The Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups are gradually taking over the West African region after being displaced in Syria and Iraq, the United States Africa Command has said.
Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa Maj. Gen. Davin Anderson said the extremist groups had begun deploying strategies to re-establish themselves in the region and expand further in the continent without drawing attention.
He said this on Tuesday during a virtual media briefing with journalists.
The commander said Al-Qaeda had expanded in Mali, and had moved into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, took out local governance and security forces, and currently controlling the local economy and exerting control over the population.
He said, “We are seeing them continue to move further south in Burkina Faso towards those littoral nations in the Gulf of Guinea, and also further west towards Senegal and West Africa. So, that’s concerning to us as we watch them continue to move throughout the region.”
Anderson observed that some aggrieved local terrorist groups were being galvanised into a larger ideology and movement, stressing that al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, was already instigating instability in Somalia in order to destabilise the horn of Africa.
He stated that the extremist group was exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel to gain deeper roots in the region and in West Africa with Islamic State, West Africa and Grand Sahara.
The groups, according to him, have established affiliates or leverage local grievances and consolidate this into a larger movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, Mozambique, as well as in Somalia.
“They are looking to Africa to try to find a means to re-establish themselves. And we can’t forget that Al-Qaeda has African roots and has a lot of African connection as well,” he said.