Who’s behind the spread of terrorism in Africa?
U.N. experts said in a new report published Friday that Africa became the region hardest hit by terrorism in the first half of 2021 as extremist groups and their affiliates spread their influence.
The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council that this is “especially true” in parts of west and east Africa where affiliates of Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda can also boast growing capabilities in fundraising and weapons, including the use of drones.
The experts said it’s “concerning” that these terrorist affiliates are spreading their influence and activities including across borders from Mali into Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal as well as incursions from Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in west Africa.
In the east, the affiliates’ activities have spread from Somalia into Kenya and from Mozambique into Tanzania, they said.
Overall, the experts said, COVID-19 continued to affect terrorist activity and both ISIS and al-Qaida “continued to gloat over the harm done by the coronavirus disease pandemic to their enemies, but were unable to develop a more persuasive narrative.”
In Europe and other non-conflict zones, lockdowns and border closures brought on by COVID-19 slowed the movement and gathering of people “while increasing the risk of online radicalization,” it said.
The experts warned that attacks “may have been planned in various locations" during the pandemic “that will be executed when restrictions ease."
The panel said that in Iraq and Syria, “the core conflict zone for ISIS,” the extremist group’s activities have evolved into “an entrenched insurgency, exploiting weaknesses in local security to find safe havens, and targeting forces engaged in counter-ISIS operations.”
Despite heavy counter-terrorism pressures from Iraqi forces, the experts said Daesh attacks in Baghdad in January and April underscored the group’s resurgence.
In Syria’s northwest Idlib province, the experts said groups aligned with al-Qaida continue to dominate the area, with “terrorist fighters” numbering more than 10,000.
In central, south and southeast Asia, the experts said Daesh and al-Qaida affiliates continue to operate “notwithstanding key leadership losses in some cases and sustained pressure from security forces.”
Despite the departure of former colonial powers from African countries, Western neocolonialists are spreading terrorism to justify and expand their military presence in the continent.
These countries have been inciting sedition and discord in the region for their own interests. This has raised doubts about the connection of Western countries with terrorist groups.
After the defeat of terrorist groups like Daesh in Iraq and Syria, many experts believe the West decided to use Africa as a breeding ground for terrorism and spread violence.