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You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: 1 2 3 4 5. Preview this item Preview this item. It offers the most wide-ranging analysis of the sub-national and transnational terrorists groups that have made Africa the second most violent region in the world. Show all links. ACLED shows forty-nine attacks resulting in deaths in , in contrast to four attacks and twelve casualties in Attacks linked to the Islamic State still represent a tiny portion of attacks overall on the continent.
The affiliates are little more than small breakaway factions that pale in comparison to their larger parent organizations. This is particularly so in sub-Saharan Africa.
Overall trends in terrorist attacks and fatalities have increased at a much more moderate rate over the last ten years in Africa than conventional wisdom suggests. Much of this decline is due to the collapse of Boko Haram; fatalities linked to the group have fallen by 70 percent. In contrast, al-Shabab has increased its core strength and is moderately expanding. If Boko Haram and al-Shabab are discounted from the analysis, the overall growth in terrorist-related violence in Africa is significantly smaller over the ten-year period.
The purported rise of the Islamic State has yet to bear out either in terms of frequency or scale of attacks. Even if certain threats do not directly threaten core U. This article does not dispute this contention. Denying sanctuary to Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria and ensuring neighboring countries do not descend into failed states are important considerations.
Ultimately they affect U. But in a world of finite resources, it is important to develop a sharper-edged hierarchy of priorities to determine which interventions are most urgent and which are of lesser importance.
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Unfortunately, the Department of Defense consistently fails to do this. Senior officials name scores of threats emanating from the African continent, but they rarely provide data-driven justifications for resource requests and proposed missions.
Do Terrorist Trends in Africa Justify the U.S. Military’s Expansion?
All threats are not created equal. The United States should consider with more specificity what the data and trends indicate before making decisions. This will lead to a more efficient allocation of resources and will ensure that the biggest threats are dealt with most effectively. In , approximately 17 percent of all special operations forces deployed overseas were in Africa: 1, personnel in twenty countries. In contrast, just 1 percent was based in Africa in Investigative journalist Nick Turse estimates that the overall U.
Many of these installations have only been established in the past several years. The geotagged map below illustrates this spread, based on open-source documentation, to visually depict the current scale of U. Supporting such a dense network of bases is expensive. While documentation is sparse, reports confirm a sharp rise in U. One of the biggest new areas of investment for the U.
Known facilities include the aforementioned sites in Cameroon and Niger. These facilities host both lethal and nonlethal aircraft MQ-1 Predators, MQ-9 Reapers, and PC that are used to undertake continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR operations and to conduct lethal strikes against high-value targets. As of November , AFRICOM had acknowledged carrying out twenty-eight drone strikes that year, including for seven straight days in November, leading to the deaths of over forty-five fighters.
While the United States may not be officially at war in Africa, U.
Indeed, the statistics reveal a sharp increase in U. This is a major uptick from even , when the U. To critics of the U. But U. It argues that the greatest threat to U. Despite data showing that terrorist attacks are only moderately increasing in Africa—and have decreased significantly since the — peak—U. There are several possible explanations for this divergence. Unfortunately, the data do not support this argument. Boko Haram provides a useful example.
A large reason for its reduction in violence is because of losses it suffered in and While the United States has played an important role in organizing a multinational force and bolstering regional capabilities against the group, it suffered a falling out with the Nigerian government during that same period. At the low point, Nigeria suspended a planned U. It was largely the Nigerian military and partner forces from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger along with major assistance from South African military contractors that turned the tide against Boko Haram.
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At best, the U. Another explanation is that public data regarding terrorist trends are incomplete—that the U. However, there are no indications that this scenario is true. While they have detailed their concern that the Islamic State may gain a foothold on the continent, no one claims that the Islamic State is rapidly mobilizing or successfully recruiting scores of militants to take up their cause; real-time data do not show a major uptick in violence or casualties attributed to Islamic State affiliates in Africa. A third explanation is that the nature of terrorism in Africa is changing.
Likewise, there is no indication that any of the major terrorist groups operating in Africa have decided to reorient their efforts and strike external targets. Boko Haram has never shown an interest or demonstrated a capability in operating outside the Lake Chad Basin. While policymakers continue to have legitimate concerns that al-Shabab could redirect strikes against the United States or Europe, thus far, it has only been linked to a single knife attack in Europe in The Islamic State affiliates are too small and diffuse to represent major threats to the United States at this point.
The primary justification that the military provides for continued U. Therein lies the crux of the issue.