Fighting the terrorist threat has been a top priority for the United States for more than two decades. But over the years, the threat has evolved. It has become more ideologically diverse. And it has become more geographically diffuse, observed Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall, White House Homeland Security Advisor.
“Nowhere is this evolution in the global terrorism landscape more vivid than in Africa, where terrorist groups, from al-Qaida branches to ISIS affiliates, now collectively occupy vast swaths of territory and extract benefits from millions of suffering people.”
Terrorists also brutalize and terrorize civilians across the continent. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, violence from militant Islamist groups in Africa has risen 300 percent over the last decade with 95 percent of that increase concentrated in the Western Sahel and Somalia. And this violence is only rising, said Dr. Sherwood-Randall.
The United States is doing three key things to tackle this threat. “First, we are investing in governance, development and diplomacy,” said Dr. Sherwood-Randall:
“The United States is pursuing an integrated strategy: One that addresses the drivers of radicalization. One that supports effective governance. And one that recognizes that stability and security are intertwined with opportunity and prosperity.”
“Second, we are deepening our ties with our African partners and empowering them to take the lead on this challenge,” said Dr. Sherwood Randall:
“Our partners include local law enforcement, military personnel, public servants, and regional bodies—such as the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities. . . .We will do everything we can to enable them to lead across the African continent. And we will empower them to conduct capacity-building efforts that enable more enduring outcomes.
Third, the United States is leveraging the collective strength of the international community, including the UN. Fundamentally, these joint efforts must be grounded in democracy and built on a respect for the rule of law and human rights if they are to succeed over the long term.
“The conditions that give rise to terrorism are complex and the perpetrators are innovative and ruthless,” declared Dr. Sherwood-Randall. “But by investing in governance, development and diplomacy, empowering local partners, and working together both bilaterally and multilaterally, we can more effectively counter the metastasizing terrorism threats we face in Africa.”