Burgeoning Terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa

Al-Qaeda is responsible for the initial idea of terrorism in Africa. From their abode in the Middle East, they spread their jihadist idea to North Africa. Since the Islamic group is ideological, they did not constitute serious problem in the north African region till there was power vacuum in Somalia. Before this time, they sponsored pockets of hit and run attacks from North to East Africa.

Al-Qaeda insurgency was regarded as international terrorism because it lacked indigenous membership. The composition of the group’s membership and the intensity of its activities changed with the ouster of President Siad Barre from the seat of government in Somalia. A full home-grown terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, was formed.

From Mogadishu, the group grew quickly and spread throughout Somalia and to its neighboring country of Kenya.  The intensity and frequency of their attacks increased. They confronted the country’s armed forces, dealt heavy blows on them, depleted their number and lowered their morale. Their attacks spread to government meetings, offices, hotels, religious centers and places of worship, public gatherings and places. From Somalia, Al-Qaeda and its local affiliate spread to north west of Africa and formed Al-Qaida in the Maghreb.

While Al-Qaeda was radicalizing the Somalis, Boko Haram was rising in Nigeria; the biggest country in Africa by space and population. Boko Haram, Western education or culture is sin. This was the preaching of Iman Mohammed Yusuf who started organized and persistent radicalization of some Muslims in some parts of Nigerian Northeast in 2009.

The government of the day did not see him as a threat since his influence was localized and his followership few and far between. That same year, they launched their first jihadist campaign, killed many people and turned many properties to rubble. After this incident, Boko Haram received national attention. But public concern did not stop their growth.

Both international and domestic intelligence communities warned that the presence of Boko Haram in Nigeria could spread terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa. This important warning was not heeded since the indigenous politicians were romancing with the terrorists through sympathy and sponsorship. Not long after, it spread to the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Niger, chad, Mali, and Burkina Faso. The insurgents in these countries merged with Al-Qaeda in the Sahel. This association increased their population and they started hitting those countries at will.

The presence of multinational force in the region including French soldiers and military planes did not stop the insurgents’ reckless attacks. They continued their attacks unabated. Instability in Libya did not help matters. It exacerbated the situation by the number of insurgents and arms and ammunitions available to them.

When Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS, was weakened in their original base, they found a willing ally, Boko Haram, in Nigeria. A distinct group was formed, Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP. This fuse motivated Boko Haram. It brought them international attention, increased their strength and momentum. From Nigeria, the insurgency spread to Central African Republic, CAR.

Insurgency in CAR was enabled by the political and religious crises in that country. The national crisis created power vacuum and the emergence of many fighting forces. The terrorists in the subregion capitalized on the situation and destabilized the country all the more.

The weak political leadership in Africa creates enabling environment and easy excuse for insurgents to penetrate. So, it happened in Mozambique. Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Islamic State in West Africa Province in their quest for expansion had hypocritical excuse in the government of Mozambique. They discovered that the government at the center is marginalizing some parts of the country and nobody is worthy to help those parts except the Islamic terrorists.

Right now, they are devastating that country. Armed with AK-47 and other heavy weapons, they have killed people in thousands, destroyed countless buildings, created almost a million refugees. The supposed liberators who are fighting to liberate the citizens from a government that is treating them badly, have made life more miserable for the people. They kill anybody at sight and behead even children. For some time now, the major news coming out of the country is terrorists’ attacks. The real situation could be worse than the stories available to the international media. In a situation like this, it is difficult for both the international and domestic journalists to adequately access the environment.

Fulani Herdsmen and Bandits, the most devastating terrorist groups in Nigeria, are still recking havoc on the country. They attack schools and travelers. Kidnap people everyday and collect ransom from the government. They have negotiators through whom government pays ransom to them but will turn around and deny it.

If the world leaders ignore the terrorism that started in the Middle East to North Africa and to sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria now as its power house, they should prepare for one world Islamic caliphate. It will eventually happen.

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