Despite suffering significant losses of territory, senior leadership and fighters in the three-year fight that culminated in its 2017 defeat in Iraq and Syria, the ISIS terrorist group, also known as Da’esh, has regrouped and is attempting to expand its influence.
According to a recent United Nations report, the threat is particularly acute in Africa, as Da’esh works to entrench itself across the Central, Southern and Western reaches of the continent.
The terrorist group is forming regional hubs and creating areas of instability across Africa. Some 20 African countries have already experienced such activity, and more than 20 others are being used for logistics as well as for mobilizing funds and other resources, said Martin Ewi, former head of the African Union Commission’s counter-terrorism program and currently Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies. He warned that Africa is not only a center of Da’esh activity but could also be the future Da’esh caliphate.
What’s more, Da’esh, or ISIS, is particularly keen to establish itself in countries with plentiful natural resources like the DRC and exploit these resources to finance its nefarious activities.
“ISIS and others continue to take advantage of conflict, governance failure, political turmoil, socioeconomic inequalities, and grievances to attract followers and resources, as well as to incite and organize terrorist attacks,” said Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs. “We are … concerned about the increasing terrorism threat across various areas of Africa, outlined in the Secretary-General’s assessment.”
“ISIS and al-Qa’ida affiliates continue to exploit Africa’s long-simmering conflicts to bolster their illicit activities, providing them heightened lethality. ISIS-West Africa merits particular focus as the group that has become the largest, and one of the most lethal, ISIS affiliates outside the core region. It is critical that the international community continues the fight to deny safe haven for [terrorist groups] and [their] affiliates,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis.
“The United States continues to provide our African partners critical counterterrorism assistance to disrupt and degrade ISIS and al-Qa’ida affiliates, underscoring that capable law enforcement and broader security service responses are essential to prevent and counter terrorism,” said Ambassador DeLaurentis.
“The Secretary-General’s report provides a stark reminder of the evolving ISIS threat and summons all of us to more collaborative, balanced efforts in countering that threat.”