The United States Africa Command has said that the Islamic State and Al-Qaida terrorist groups were gradually taking over the West African region after being displaced in Syria and Iraq.
Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, Maj. Gen. Davin Anderson, noted that the extremist groups have begun deploying strategies to re-establish themselves in the region and expand further in the continent without drawing attention.
Speaking during a virtual media briefing with journalists on Tuesday, the commander disclosed that the Al-Qaida has expanded in Mali, and had moved into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, took out local governance and security forces, and are now controlling the local economy and exerting control over the population.
He said, “We are seeing them continue to move further south in Burkina Faso towards those littoral nations in the Gulf of Guinea, and also further west towards Senegal and West Africa. So that’s a concern to us as we watch them continue to move throughout the region.”
He observed that some aggrieved local terrorist groups were being galvanized into a larger ideology and movement, stressing that al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaida, was already instigating instability in Somalia in order to destabilize the horn of Africa.
Anderson stated that the extremist group is exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel to gain deeper roots in the region and in West Africa with Islamic State, West Africa, and Grand Sahara.
The groups, according to him, have established affiliates or leverage local grievances and consolidate this into a larger movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, Mozambique, as well as in Somalia.
He noted, “They are looking to Africa to try to find a means to re-establish themselves. And we can’t forget that al-Qaida has African roots and has a lot of African connection as well.
“That’s very concerning to us because it’s a deliberate strategy, and part of that strategy is to be quiet about how they act, how they expand. They’re not looking to advertise a lot of what they’re doing.”
The commander said Africa needs to be conscious of their plot and understand how to counter it.