Islamic State terrorist group emerges as a political force in western Africa
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Islamic State militants in West Africa are gaining the upper hand, carving out a “proto-state” in northern Nigeria where government forces have been overwhelmed by attacks, U.S. military officials and security analysts say.
ISIS-West Africa, which broke away from the militant group Boko Haram three years ago, continues to launch high profile attacks that have placed the Nigerian military “under tremendous strain,” according to Stuttgart-based U.S. Africa Command.
Now, the group appears to be building on its battlefield gains in northeast Nigeria and the borderlands in the Lake Chad region, from where they have launched cross-border attacks in places like Niger.
“Additionally, the group is also attempting to replace state institutions for the population under its control,” said Samantha Reho, an AFRICOM spokeswoman, in an updated assessment of the terrorist group.
A concern is that the group’s affiliation with the Islamic State has the potential to provide access to “funds, fighters, weapons, or other assistance from other components of the self-described Islamic State,” Reho said.