Al-Qa’ida terrorist movement is looking to partnerships in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa to re-group and re-energise, a new report by think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has revealed.
“Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa”, written by Valentina Soria, says that since the central leadership of Al-Qa’ida is weakened and challenged, the terrorist movement is re-grouping and re-energising itself in Africa.
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 Ms. 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 youth 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,” the report says.
The report reveals that Western intelligence and security services are aware of possible new challenges “as jihadism evolves and disperses into territories of ungoverned, or loosely governed, space across large stretches of the African continent.”
The report warns that there are many dimensions to the potential threat including fighters from African conflicts coming into the UK.
“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,” the report says.
The report adds: “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.”
The report further warns that a new phase of decisive developments from Africa 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,” it says.