Why Africa has become the new jihadist battleground

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi Published: Dec 17, 2020, 11:25 PM(IST)

Al Qaeda terrorists (representative image). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The al Qaeda has reportedly moved base again from Afghanistan back to Africa.

al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden once operated in Sudan. The terror network had planned an attack on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In 1998, the terror group blew up American embassies in Nairobi and Dar-e-Salaam.

Africa has now become the new jihadist battleground and has been attracting jihadists like never before. In 2010, Boko Haram declared jihad. In the last few years, the Islamic State has moved its operations from Syria and Iraq to the west and east Africa.

al Qaeda has reportedly moved base again from Afghanistan back to Africa.

The jihadist battleground has moved from West Asia to Africa with the battle in Africa quite complex because jihadist groups aren't just fighting each other, they have also been fighting African governments and waging war on the people of Africa which means terror, radicalisation and poverty.

In the last few months, there have been fatal attacks in Dr Congo, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Mozambique and Niger. There is still no information about the schoolgirls who were kidnapped in 2014 and now 300 schoolboys have been taken recently in Nigeria.

As far as radicalisation is concerned, be it the Islamic State, or al Qaeda or Boko Haram, they will all be looking to recruit young people to radicalise the youth and train new jihadists while the Islamic State's graphic beheading videos have become a nightmare.

Jihadist groups have also been looking to recruit youth who have lost hope in their governments and administration and this is where Africa has become the ideal hunting ground.

The continent is laden with poverty, corruption and under-employment with one in three Africans living below the global poverty line which is 422 million people. The youth make up 60 per cent of Africa's unemployed population.

The people of Africa are extremely vulnerable and terror groups have been looking to exploit this vulnerability. Almost 20,000 youth from Tunisia had joined the Islamic State in Syria. Now the ISIS is in Africa.

Terror groups target foreigners namely Europeans and Americans and execute some of them while releasing others. The ransom amount being $120 million according to a report even as Africa stands to lose out on development.

UN peacekeeping forces are already stationed in Africa, however, increased militarisation means added restrictions - Afghanistan is proof that this story doesn't have a happy ending.

It's a vicious cycle - terror, militarisation, human rights problems, radicalisation and back to terror. Africa will have to make a concerted effort to avoid this fate.

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