ISIS in Africa

October 22, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 37
Can the spread of religious extremism be stopped?
By Daniel Muraga


After major setbacks in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State (ISIS) is attempting a comeback in Africa. Some 6,000 fighters have established nine ISIS cells operating in the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa, central Africa and, most recently, the continent's southeastern Swahili Coast. Insurgents are capturing strategic territories by forming temporary alliances with ethnic militias, conscripting child soldiers and using anti-government propaganda to recruit followers — especially among Africa's large population of unemployed and disaffected youths. Experts say the insurgency is being stymied in some areas, with assistance from international and African military forces, but it is spreading in others. The extremists have seized strategic, resource-rich territories, such as gold-mining regions in Burkina Faso and areas with abundant natural gas in Mozambique. As a result, analysts say, Africa has become a front line in the war against jihadists, creating dangerous economic, political and security problems for the continent and, potentially, the world.

Photo of people mourning the deaths of 43 farm workers killed on November 20, 2020, in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram. (AFP/Getty Images/Audu Marte)
Residents mourn the deaths of 43 farm workers killed last November in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Haram, a local Muslim extremist group once allied with al Qaeda and later with the Islamic State. It has since splintered off from both groups. Experts say Africa has become a front line in the conflict with jihadists. (AFP/Getty Images/Audu Marte)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 14, 2023  The New Scramble for Africa
Jul. 15, 2022  Africa in Transition
Oct. 22, 2021  ISIS in Africa
Feb. 23, 2018  Africa in Transition
Jul. 10, 2015  Terrorism in Africa
Nov. 20, 2012  Booming Africa
Apr. 05, 2011  Conflict in Congo
Aug. 2009  Attacking Piracy
Jun. 2009  The Troubled Horn of Africa
Sep. 2008  Crisis in Darfur
Jan. 2008  China in Africa
Sep. 09, 2005  Ending Poverty
Aug. 27, 2004  Stopping Genocide
Aug. 29, 2003  Aiding Africa
Nov. 08, 2002  Famine in Africa
Mar. 24, 1995  Democracy in Africa
Jan. 14, 1994  South Africa's Future
Mar. 23, 1990  U.S. Role in South Africa's Future
Nov. 07, 1986  Economic Turnabout In Africa
Jan. 17, 1986  Angola and the Reagan Doctrine
Sep. 09, 1983  South Africa's ‘Total Strategy’
Jul. 14, 1978  African Policy Reversal
Sep. 03, 1976  Africa and the Big Powers
Apr. 04, 1975  Southern Africa in Transition
Dec. 06, 1974  Ethiopia in Turmoil
May 09, 1973  African Nation Building
Feb. 28, 1968  Nigeria at War
Nov. 02, 1966  White Outposts in Southern Africa
Feb. 03, 1965  Congo Dilemma
Aug. 12, 1964  Red Rivalry in Africa
May 22, 1963  Political Turmoil in Southern Africa
Nov. 02, 1960  Tribalism and Nationalism in Africa
Sep. 28, 1960  Education for Africans
Apr. 10, 1959  Power Struggles in Colonial Africa
Aug. 20, 1958  Algerian Conflicts
Apr. 09, 1958  White Supremacy in South Africa
Sep. 11, 1957  Future of Algeria
Apr. 03, 1957  Political Awakening of Black Africa
Sep. 17, 1952  Africa and the West
Feb. 20, 1952  Nationalism in North Africa
Dec. 04, 1942  War Resources in Africa
May 29, 1935  Pre-War and Post-War Imperialism in Africa
Arms Control and Disarmament
Civil Wars
Conflicts in Africa
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
General International Relations
Global Issues
Humanitarian Assistance
International Law and Agreements
Middle East Conflicts
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
Religion and Politics
Religious Freedom
Religious Movements
Unemployment and Employment Programs
United Nations
Violence and the Family
War and Conflict