Western powers take the threat of Islamic State and other jihadis in Africa seriously. The U.S. has thousands of forces on the continent, provides intelligence and military support to several governments, and is stepping up airstrikes in Somalia, some of which are targeted at Islamic State. France has 4,500 counterterrorism troops in the West African Sahel region. The U.K.’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggested in May that London wanted to provide more military help against Iswap and Boko Haram, but that the Nigerian government was wary of hosting foreign combat troops.
Washington sees little risk of attacks on U.S. soil by the African cells of Islamic State, but it fears that could change if it takes over large territories or creates a caliphate on the continent akin to its former structure in the Middle East. Even if it doesn’t achieve that, Islamic State is already reaping benefits from its efforts. “What they’re doing in Africa is to show they have global reach,” says Judd Devermont, a former CIA analyst who’s now Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “They’re saying: We’re undefeated. We remain a player.”
ISIS is rebuilding in Africa after Middle East defeat https://t.co/3RbXXGraCT
— Bloomberg Africa (@BBGAfrica) May 23, 2019