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UKTA No.2: Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa

RUSI Analysis, 4 Apr 2012 By Valentina Soria, Associate Fellow

The latest UK Terrorism Analysis suggests that Africa represents a potential new front for counter-terrorism in Britain and the linkages already evident across the continent suggest the development of some disturbing new trends.

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Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa outlines that since the central leadership of Al-Qa'ida is weakened and challenged, the terrorist movement is looking to partnerships in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa to re-group and re-energise.

Assessing regional affiliates such as Al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb and Al-Shabaab, as well as the recent activity of Boko Haram who appear to be emulating the practises of other Al-Qa'ida terror movements, report author Soria claims 'a worrying prospect is developing of an arc of regional instability which Al-Qa'ida-core could exploit.'

This threat, the report warns, poses new challenges as jihadism evolves and disperses into territories of ungoverned space across large stretches of the African continent. Among these, the potential for radicalisation and mobilisation of a new subset of British youths in the UK.

The focus of anti-jihadist counter-terrorism is shifting to Africa. Western intelligence and security services understand what is happening in Pakistan, in the Maghreb and in Yemen, even if they cannot do very much about it. But counter-terrorism officials privately acknowledge that they are unsighted, and are working hard to try to understand how far the jihadist challenge may be migrating to Somalia, Kenya, north Nigeria and the borderlands of some of the vast territories of West Africa.

Key PointsUKTA Badge

  • As the central leadership of Al-Qa’ida is weakened and challenged, the terrorist movement is looking to partnerships in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa to re-group and re-energise itself
  • Despite greater co-operation, there seems to be an unresolved tension between transnational aims of Al-Qa’ida-core and the local grievances of African partners
  • Following the alliance with Al-Qa’ida-core, regional affiliates such as Al-Qa’ida in the Maghreb and Al-Shabaab have undergone similar patterns of strategic, tactical and propagandistic evolution
  • Nigeria’s Boko Haram is still focused on a local campaign, but recent operational refinement and ability to stage deadly ‘spectaculars’ suggests disturbing connections with other regional terror groups
  • Links between Al-Qa’ida-core and some jihadist groups in Africa have been established over the last decade which vary in strategic and operational significance
  • A range of new challenges are possible as jihadism evolves and disperses into territories of ungoverned space across large stretches of the African continent. Among these are the potential for radicalisation and mobilisation of a new subset of British youth in the UK

 



Further Analysis: Terrorism, UK, Europe

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