Skip to main content

2019 Prediction for the Next Terrorist Hot Spot: AFRICA!

Interesting Article: "Terrorist attacks will be harder to prevent" by Amanda Erickson. The Washington Post. December 28 2018.

An interesting article mentioned that Terrorism was down around the world and data collected by the University of Maryland shows that the number of terrorist attacks has dropped every year since 2015. That may not hold in 2019 and we will see more action from 1 continent in the world more than any other.

Would you like to know more?





Experts attribute the decline, particularly in Europe, to the Islamic State losing its footing. The group suffered formidable losses in Syria and neighboring Iraq. They lost much of their virtual space as well. The network has struggled to recruit and train followers and lacks the capacity to pull off large-scale attacks. Other extremist groups haven’t faded away, though — far from it. Instead of operating in large groups, extremists often gather online, connecting and affiliating with micro-causes and meeting like-minded zealots, researchers say. I don’t expect as many attacks in the name of ISIS. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there is an increase in the number of lone-wolf attacks that come seemingly out of the blue.

In terrorism, we may remember 2018 for what didn’t happen: The jihadist threat to the United States has dissipated. We had only one death from jihadist-linked terrorism in this country, and while disturbing, it was hardly an Islamic State spectacular. (In Florida, a teenage boy, inspired by jihadist videos, stabbed a 13-year-old friend to death during a sleepover.) As the recent killings of five people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, indicate, the European situation is worse, but not hopeless. In Europe, around 20 people have died from jihadist terrorism in 2018, a steep fall from 2015, when attacks in Paris and elsewhere led to 150 deaths.

So where is the next flash point in the world, and where will our future battles be in 2019? Well, it will be 1 word... 1 continent...AFRICA.

The fact is Africa has a terrorism problem that could impact the U.S. and its allies. Four groups are vying for equal supremacy in difference countries within Africa: Islamic State, the Taliban, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. According to Global Terrorism Index 2018, compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), these four organizations were responsible for 10,632 deaths in 2017. Their actions contribute to the instability of what are some of the most dangerous countries in Africa: Nigeria, Somalia . Over the past decade they have accounted for 44% of all terrorist deaths. Of the 4, 2 have been home grown in Africa and are becoming more aggressive int their actions with an influx of foreign fighters moving to the continent. The extremist militant group Al-Shabaab emerged in 2006. It is an affiliate of Al-Qaida and while its main area of operations is Somalia, it has also carried out attacks in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.



Al-Shabaab:
Al-Shabaab was the deadliest terror group in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, being responsible for 1,457 deaths, a rise of 93% on the year before. Two-thirds of the deaths were in the Somali capital Mogadishu. The worst incident was in October 2017, when 588 people were killed and 316 injured in an explosion outside the Safari Hotel in the Hodan area of the city.

Many of the country’s worst affected by terrorism have seen a decline in the number of deaths over recent years, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan. Somalia, however, has been an unfortunate exception to that trend, due to the actions of Al-Shabaab. There have been almost 6,000 deaths from terrorism in the country since 2001.

Boko Haram:
The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram (also known by the far longer name Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad) was once the world’s deadliest terror group but it has been in decline since 2014 and has recently started to splinter into different factions, the largest of which is the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP).

Since it emerged in the northeast of the country in 2002 it has spread out to other nearby countries including Chad, Cameroon and Niger and the group has sworn allegiance to Islamic State.
The fall in terrorist deaths in Nigeria in recent years – the number of deaths is down 83% from the 2014 peak – indicates that the region’s security forces, assisted by international allies, are having an impact on groups such as Boko Haram. The battle is far from won, though. Boko Haram carried out 40% more attacks and was responsible for 15% more deaths in 2017 than in the year before.
Most of the group's attacks last year were carried out in Nigeria – particularly in Borno State – with smaller numbers in Cameroon and Niger. The group has gained notoriety for mass hostage takings and the extensive use of children and women as suicide bombers.

Other less well-known groups are becoming more prominent in Africa as well.

Fulani:

The Fulani in Nigeria were responsible for 321 deaths and 72 attacks in 2017. While those numbers represented a fall from its activities in 2016, IEP says that there has been a significant increase in violence by the group in 2018.

The little-known group, formed of individuals from the semi-nomadic pastoral ethnic group Fula people existing across several West African nations, has seen a dramatic escalation of its activities in the past year. Operating mainly in the middle belt of Nigeria, opposed to the north which is dominated by Boko Haram, the group recorded 847 deaths last year across five states, and has also been known to stage attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR), according to the latest report from the Global Terrorism Index.

Little is known about the group, despite the high toll they are inflicting on local civilian populations, but it is supposed the increased instability in CAR and Nigeria - despite some government successes against militant groups - has facilitated the group's expansion.

As much as 92 per cent of their attacks target private citizens, reflecting the group’s primary concern over the ownership of farmland. Each attack claims an average of 11 lives, with the largest known in April 2014 killing as many as 200 people after a group of the militants targeted community leaders and residents during a meeting in central province Zamfara.

In the past year Nigeria has experienced the greatest increase in deaths from terrorism, with 7,512 deaths reported – an increase of over 300 per cent – most of which have been claimed by Boko Haram.

Another deadly group in Nigeria is the Bachama, which carried out four attacks and killed 30 people in 2017. While little is known about Bachama extremists, they were responsible for four attacks and 30 deaths in 2017.

In Yemen, the most active group is the Houthi rebels, which are fighting a brutal war against the Saudi-led coalition which supports the internationally-recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. It’s worth noting that the definition of terrorism used by IEP – which only covers attacks by non-state actors – means the targeting of civilians by Saudi forces and their allies is not included in the Global Terrorism Index. Other active groups in Yemen include Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Adan-Abyan Province of the Islamic State.

As a result of these groups, an arc of instability is spreading across Africa, from Nigeria in West Africa, Mali in Sahel, Libya in North Africa, to Somalia in East Africa.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram (meaning Western education is sin) continues to target civilians and government infrastructure despite several rounds of operation conducted by the Nigerian Army. Boko Haram, that came up in 2009, had emerged as the ‘world’s deadliest terrorist organization’ by 2014. In the last eight years, it is said that Boko Haram has taken 20,000 lives, displaced 2.6 million people, created 75,000 orphans and caused about nine billion worth of damage. Links with the ISIS, with leadership tussle between Abubakar Shekau and ISIS favoring Abu Musab al-Barnawi, have turned the situation more complex. While there may have been some reduction in Boko Haram-led violence in the country due the Nigerian Army’s counter terrorism campaign, the group continues to expand its operations in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

In Sahel, there is a resurgence of al Qaeda. The four terrorist groups that continue to wreak havoc in the region - AQIM, Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s al Mourabitoun, Ansar Dine and Macina Liberation Front - have recently decided to combine forces and merge into a single group called Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (Group for Support of Islam and Muslims). They have also pledged allegiance to the al Qaeda leadership. This regrouping of terror groups is ominous for countries such as Mali and the neighbouring Niger, Cote d’ Ivoire and Burkina Faso that have borne the brunt of their attacks in the past.

In Somalia, the notorious al Shabaab is on the offensive and in recent months has taken control of some towns after defeating the troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The group has increased its attacks on African Union bases, Somali government facilities, targets in neighbouring Kenya and, for the first time in a show of strength, has also launched attacks in the northern Puntland autonomous region. This comes as a surprise as the al Shabaab had steadily lost ground over the last six years. It lost control of the capital Mogadishu in 2011 and then was pushed out of Somalia’s major cities by the 22,000-strong African Union force deployed in the country.
The withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from Somalia and the announcement by the African Union to withdraw AMISOM too (triggered primarily by reduction in funding by the European Union), may have been to an extent responsible for al Shabaab’s comeback. The attacks in the north may be a move to regain control by the pro-al Qaeda al Shabaab leadership, after the recent declaration of allegiance to ISIS by Abdul Qadir Meemen, leader of the faction based in Puntland. Another issue of concern is the possibility of revival of friendship between the al Qaeda of Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Shabaab. In the past, al Shabaab is reported to have trained cadre along with AQAP. The Saudi Arabia-led war against Houthis in Yemen seems to have benefitted the AQAP. This group appears to have rapidly gained control over chunks of territory in Yemen. The emergence of nexus between al Shabaab and AQAP could make the situation in Somalia deadlier.

The ISIS plan to establish a caliphate in North Africa was thwarted after it was routed out of Sirte, the last ISIS strong hold, in December 2016 by the Libyan National Army, with air support provided by the United States (US). Since 2014, pro-ISIS terrorist groups have been active in North Africa, particularly in Tunisia and Libya. In Libya, the instability following the collapse of the Muammar al Gaddafi regime, and the presence of numerous indigenous factions and also the porous borders, provided a fertile ground for the expansion of ISIS in the country. Moreover, Libya’s long unmonitored coastline too provided the ISIS with a channel to Europe. Between 2014 and 2016, ISIS expanded its presence in multiple cities in Libya, including Derna, Benghazi and Sirte. While the terror group was driven out of most of the region under its control, there are chances that remnants of the group may reconstitute and again create problems.

In Tunisia, Ansar al-Sharia, an ISIS affiliate, has been responsible for a large number of terror attacks in the country. It has also been the main facilitator of ISIS fighters from the country to West Asia. Tunisia, has earned the ignominious tag of being the key recruitment ground for the ISIS (about 6,500) in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS is recruiting youth from eastern as well as southern Africa to fight its wars in Syria and Libya. In Kenya, coastal Tanzania and Zanzibar, youth from the Muslim communities are vulnerable to the ISIS recruitment drives. Reports suggest that at least 140 youth from South Africa may have joined the ISIS. These terrorist outfits are using both internet as well as networks of radical clerics to lure the youth from the region.

here is a growing recognition in Africa that terrorism is a transnational problem and, therefore, there is a need for cooperation at the continental level to effectively deal with it.  Most of the counter measures to deal with terrorism have dealt with enhancing the capacities of the states in the continent. However, this has proved to be counterproductive in some cases, as greed and corruption overwhelmed feelings of nationalism amongst section of political elites. Unfortunately, despite the existence of these instruments, terror networks continue to operate in the region. This is mainly due to the tardy implementation of the counter terrorism framework by the member states. For example, it has been reported that in Somalia the arms transfers from the US found their way to al Shabaab due to corruption in the ranks of the Somali National Army.

The fact is economic conditions, especially poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment compounded by corruption and bad governance are incentives for terrorism. These factors fuel the risk of violent extremism. Despite an increase in terrorist activities, many believe that Africa should still celebrate the end of major wars—in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and elsewhere. The efforts by African governments and their armies, with international support, to defeat terrorism should ensure the important achievement of ending many wars is not undercut.

We must not stop the continuing buildup of U.S. military forces in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the terrorist groups currently on the U.S. military’s watch list—for which the military is deploying additional special operations troops and building new installations—directly impact core U.S. interests. In the long run, a more balanced approach, with directed hits against high value targets will reap significant dividends when it comes to bringing peace and stability to the continent.

References:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/opinion/sunday/islamic-state-terrorism-europe.html
https://wtop.com/j-j-green-national/2018/12/the-hunt-us-armys-approach-to-terrorism-in-africa/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2018/12/05/deadliest-terrorist-groups-in-the-world/#34a5af872b3e
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/global-terrorism-index-nigerian-fulani-militants-named-as-fourth-deadliest-terror-group-in-world-a6739851.html
https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/nigeria-is-3rd-most-terrorised-country-in-the-world-but-death-rate-drops/hw10pd3
https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2016/terrorism-overshadows-internal-conflicts

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why making friends with the Taliban might be a good idea!

Interesting Article: " Taliban to Open Qatar Office in Step to Formal Talks " by Matthew Rosenberg / Kabul published Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 An interesting article in the New York Times mentioned that the Taliban, giving its first major public sign that it may be ready for formal talks with the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, announced Tuesday that it had struck a deal to open a political office in Qatar that could allow for direct negotiations over the endgame in the Afghan war. It was unclear, however, whether the Taliban was interested in working toward a comprehensive peace settlement or mainly in ensuring that NATO ends its operations in Afghanistan as scheduled in 2014, which would remove a major obstacle to the Taliban’s return to power in all or part of the country.  So what is the U.S’s strategy in allowing this?

Head of Indian 26/11 massacre Arrested!

Interesting Article: " India arrests suspect in Mumbai terrorist attacks " by Richard Lindell / India published Tuesday, June 16th, 2012. An interesting article mentioned that Abu Hamza, also known as Sayed Zabiuddin, was detained by police at Delhi international airport late last week. The 30-year-old is alleged to have coordinated the 10 terrorists who attacked various targets in Mumbai. From a base in the Pakistani city of Karachi, Hamza allegedly issued instructions by telephone to the 10 Islamist gunmen as they stormed two luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a restaurant and a train station in Mumbai. Would you like to know more?