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Terror Groups in the Sahel:Not only African but a Global Threat

No doubt that Africa has now become both the safe haven for and battlefield of modern day terrorism. Whether or not the war on terror is originally African is no longer the question. The reality is that Africa must now contend with yet another tragedy of the 21st century. The human cost of terrorism is too high to contemplate for countries that are still grappling with fragilities of all sorts. As we speak, terrorist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks to many parts of the globe from these remote areas of Africa. These groups have created very sophisticated mode of operation and a dangerous new strategy after being chased out of most major towns they once held in Africa’s Sahel, the vast expanse of arid, sparsely populated brushland that crosses the continent along the southern edge of the Sahara desert. 

Rather than trying to hold towns or urban districts, these groups – which include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, the Macina Liberation Front (FLM) and al-Murabitoun – are using bases in the countryside to strike at provincial and district centers, often forcing national armies to retreat and local state authorities to abandon immense rural areas to terrorist groups’ control. The Sahel is now a fault-line that runs from Senegal in West Africa all the way to Somali in the horn of Africa. This also created a link to Yemen and the larger troubled Middle East through the Gulf of Aden. There is no wonder therefore that terror groups are having well-coordinated attacks such as those of Somalia’s Al Shabaab that have proved to be very successful. The sophistication and exactness with which these groups strike point at an elaborate intelligence and the similarities witnessed between different groups operating in different locations shows that such intelligence is shared between and among them. No doubt, there is no single state – however powerful it is – that is going to win the war on terror alone and by itself. There is need for more cooperation through a well-oiled and globalized approach to fighting modern day terrorism lodged deep in Africa’s Sahel.


It is quite disturbing that instead of a more coordinated and intelligent approach to tacking the terror menace in the Sahel, increasingly international support has inadvertently reinforced the historical tendency of focusing relatively more on the political centers hence neglecting the vast territorial hinterlands where terror groups have created save havens. The war on terror has never been an African war; it is irrational for world powers to withdraw support to African nations especially around the Sahel to confront this emerging and quite fluid threat to human security, not only in Africa and beyond. Equally, it is irresponsible to keep using the same old model that has failed. If concentration of resources on select centers failed to develop Africa, it surely cannot succeed in securing Africa. Unlike development which has over the years been viewed as an African trouble, terrorism is not because an insecure Africa means an insecure world; there is no two ways about this. Concentrating aid on urban centers is the same old and tired strategy that foreign powers have used for the last 50 years to tackle a number of other ills in Africa but it has never worked. How is it going to work on the war on terror? These trends need to be reversed urgently. 

Significant and more coordinated efforts need to be made to save, not only Africa’s Sahel from the grip of terror squads but the world from the threat of terror groups residing and operating in the Sahel, failure to which, the world risks to suffer from severe heartaches for indeed these groups will continue launching attacks and appear that someday they will do something that may shock the conscience of humanity. Terrorism remains one of the world’s current single most important threats. It would be irresponsible for world leaders to sit somewhere in New York or elsewhere and assume that what is happening in Africa’s Sahel is a uniquely African problem; it is not.
Terror Groups in the Sahel:Not only African but a Global Threat  Terror Groups in the Sahel:Not only African but a Global Threat Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on February 10, 2017 Rating: 5

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