Africa – a fertile soil for the growing of Islamist groups

Compared with the anterior years, in 2020 the regions where the terrorist activity is rising are change, which means that the trend settled in 2019 continues.

In the world and the red zone, in matter of terrorist activity like Syria and Iraq, the number of attacks and clashes has been decreasing since the international coalition’s interventions has shook the foundations of the extremist groups.

Like in 2019, in the current year the most active IS branches outside Iraq and Syria are West Africa, Libya, Egypt (‘Sinai’), Afghanistan (‘Khorasan’) and the Philippines.

The fact that the red zone are less fuming, doesn’t mean that the jihadists are on hold, they just change their locations, in searching for a more vulnerable region/area/country, where they can take advantage of the population’s shortcomings, like Sahel and Maghreb, and even the Philippines.

A review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past decade underscores the growing and shifting threat posed by these groups, like in the following chart:

Data Source: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project

The focus of the insurgents activity remains in the North African areal, where the jihadist groups find the most prolific soil for recruitment and promote the Islam, form an extremist perspective.

The IS West Africa province, previously known as Boko Haram, remained active in the region of Lake Chad in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

Over the past year, the militant groups from Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and Mozambique have exhibited the sharpest increases in violent activity.

Data Source: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project

The most dramatic escalation of violent activity has been registered in Sahel, where has been formed a coalition between Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

Together, these groups signed almost 1000 terrorist events. Compared to last year, they had an important increase – form 147 events to 1000.

The majority of the attacks form 2020 were in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and the main reasons of that is the rate of poverty and the heavy living conditions, which make from these states some of the most vulnerable from North Africa.

Even in matter of fatalities, in Sahel is registered the higher number of deaths, with 4,404 vs. 1,538 casualties from the prior year, which represents a difference, in percentage, of 219%.

A disturbing characteristic of the terrorist events from this year, is the fact that more and more are orientated to civilians, and Mozambique is the main land where is registered the higher number of civilians killed in terrorist attacks, with a rate of 78% of the total attacks.

Data Source: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project

Although, over the year some of the armies that are fighting against ISIS declared that had killed some of the important figures of the jihadist group, the overarching messages showed that over the year nothing had changed for them except for theirs leaders.

They maintain the recruitment strategy, most of the propaganda aimed to incite potential perpetrators to commit attacks in their countries of residence – like France, but also continued to call on potential recruits to travel (hijra) to join the group or its affiliates, although less perceptibly.

In the following period of time are expected attacks – the „Lone wolf” type, considering the fact that some of the group’s leaders incited their adepts to act like that, against occidentals and not only.