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, highlights a new report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa, written by Valentina Soria, 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.'
'Western intelligence and security services know that a range of new challenges are possible as jihadism evolves and disperses into territories of ungoverned, or loosely governed, space across large stretches of the African continent,' writes Soria.
'Fighters from African conflicts coming into the UK are only one aspect of such a challenge and indeed there are many dimensions to the potential threat. The dynamics of jihadism in Africa may provoke direct terrorist attacks inside the UK, though to date there is no direct public evidence of this happening. Attacks on UK citizens and interests abroad, however, have already taken place, in Kenya and Nigeria.'
'Most significant is the potential for radicalisation and then mobilisation of a new subset of youth in the UK. This has already taken place over the last fifteen years in sections of the Pakistani, North African and even the Indian communities; the UK could soon be facing much greater radicalisation among the Somali minority and new radicalisation in some sections of other communities from east and west African countries.'
'From West to East Africa, across the Sub-Saharan region, we may well be witnessing a new phase of decisive developments that could trigger further turmoil. The UK cannot expect to remain immune from the 'spill-over' effects of events that could reshape part of the African continent.'
Download report at: http://rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C4F7BDEE390DBB/
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Any enquiries, please contact : Daniel Sherman / +44(0)20 7747 2617 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Briefing Paper Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa can be viewed in full at: http://rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C4F7BDEE390DBB/
3. 'Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa' is the second report in RUSI's UK Terrorism Analysis series, designed to explore and set the scene for security policy as the terrorism threat evolves and the international environment changes. For more, visit www.rusi.org/ukta
4. Valentina Soria is a research analyst at RUSI where she works in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Programme. She analyses and assesses the terrorist threat to the UK and its potential implications for national security.
5. RUSI is an independent think-tank for defence and security. RUSI is a unique institution; founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, it embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters.