IS Fighters may be Leaving Syria for Africa, PSC of AU must Act | Peter Bismark

Defeating ISIS/IS in Syria and some parts of Iraq brings into the discussion the influx of cache of ammunition and hardened fighters to Africa. This could be a serious security threat to Africa should leaders on the continent have no measurable outputs in place. The US has declared the end of caliphate in Syria. The danger is that, most fighters would move to Africa and considering the porosity of Africa's security chassis, and there could be the rise in insurgency and insecurity. ISIS in Syria is made up lots of foreign fighters of which Africans are a part.

The United Nations (UN) had stated that more than 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries may have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups and factions. The UN again believes there could be another 1,000 foreign fighters of various crimes and unidentified nationalities under arrest in Iraq.

Besides that, the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) at the King's College in London with verified academic and other data released in 2018 found that 41,490 people - 32,809 men, 4,761 women, and 4,640 children - from 80 countries were affiliated with Islamic State (IS). ICSR concluded that  18,852 came from the Middle East and North Africa, 7,252 from Eastern Europe, 5,965 from Central Asia, 5,904 from Western Europe, 1,010 from Eastern Asia, 1,063 from South-East Asia, 753 from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, 447 from Southern Asia, and 244 FROM SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA. It was further estimated in June 2018 that, 3,906 had returned to countries in the Middle East and North Africa, 1,765 to Western Europe, 784 to Eastern Europe, 338 to Central Asia, 308 to South-Eastern Asia, 156 to Southern Asia, 97 to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and 12 to Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN had also expressed much concern about “returnees or militants becoming active again on release from prison or for other reasons”. It has also said radicalized women and minors (children) may pose a threat.

The recent surge in terror attacks in countries such as Burkina Faso, Egypt, Cameroon, Niger, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Côte d’ivoire and Somalia, which have taken thousands of civilian lives away, is evidence terrorism is becoming dominantly a new war in Africa.

 Insurgents including Al-Shabaab who have pledged allegiance to Al -Qaeda and Bokoharam pledging alliance to the IS group is amply to worry about. Bokoharam is still terrorizing four countries in the West Africa Sub-region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) while Al Shabaab is committing violence related atrocities in Somalia and Kenya. There have also been lots terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, all denoting the vulnerability of certain countries to terrorism.

 These four countries in West Africa have battled with Bokoharam with their hard armies and tanks but the groups still pose the greatest threat in the region. Nigeria and its allies have spent billions of dollars and dedicated thousands of troops to fight Boko Haram but with little success. Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are also the battle field with Al Shabaab. Mali and Burkina Faso are the news for kidnappings and violence related fatalities making these countries ungovernable. 

 Do you remember the deadly attacks on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, on 20th November 2015, killing 22 people, including two attackers, and a similar attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on 15th January 2016, which killed 30? According Aljazeera (2019), “at least 300 people have been killed in more than 20 attacks that the al-Shabaab group has carried out in Kenya in the past five years”.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) as the main security architecture of the African Union (AU) must put in place measures to manage these threats before they destabilize the entire continent. Considering other conflicts on the continents these militants may be joining factions and others countries to create insecurity putting many lives, liberty and properties at risk. We must invest to protect the freedom and liberty on the continent.



Peter Bismark


Source: ILAPI