Islamic State terrorist group regroups in Central Africa’s Christian countries
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The Islamic State has regrouped in Central Africa after suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, shifting its target to Christian-dominated countries, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Violence by Islamist extremists in Africa spiked 43 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and ISIS is now using those attacks to project an image of strength.
The State Department in March designated two African groups as foreign terrorist organizations – the Islamic State affiliate in Congo and the branch in Mozambique (referred to as Iscap) – saying they have “committed or pose a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism, and they identify leaders of them.”
Last March, hundreds of combatants in Mozambique held the major port city of Palma for several days, killing dozens of civilians and causing thousands to flee.
“There is some sort of formal covert communications between this particular network in Mozambique and ISIS as a global movement,” Dr. Charlie Winter, counter-terrorism expert of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, told Middle Eastern news service The National.
“Both parties clearly benefit from the propaganda value and the amplification of activities,” he added.
The Islamic State in the past focused on Muslim-majority countries. Now it is attaching itself to Islamist terrorist groups that have emerged among disenfranchised Muslim minorities.
ISIS, according to the Journal, provides funding and training but doesn’t direct the groups’ day-to-day operations, unlike what it did in Syria and Iraq, Western security officials told the newspaper.
The American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project in late September of 2020 said several terrorist groups, including ones with connections to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, are active in multiple Central African countries, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mozambique and Somalia, as well as lower-level insurgencies in Congo, Kenya, Chad, Libya and Algeria.
AEI research fellow Emily Estelle wrote at the time that the Salafi-jihadi movement is “already expanding and deepening its presence across Africa, and negative trendlines in key African regions will likely create new opportunities for this spread.”
Source: News Max