By Basil Hijazi, New Age Islam
(Translated from Urdu By New Age Islam Edit Bureau)
28 March 2018
“ISIS” as an organization was not born in Africa. Stricken with poverty, Africa is confronted with its own weaknesses; basic infrastructure is not good, leaders and dictators are engaged in mutual combat, and the literacy rate is extremely low. We cannot deny the existence of small extremist groups like “Qaaedi” and “Ikhwani” which preceded ISIS in Africa. Due to such weaknesses, ISIS got an opportunity to spread in Africa in record time. It first started expanding into the Arabic northeast of Africa, such as Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. Egyptians and Moroccans also took interest in the expansion of ISIS, as most of them had already gone to join ISIS in Syria. Then this spread in Sudan, Central Africa, Chad, Niger, Mali and then Nigeria where “Boko Haram” is the biggest terror organization, whose leader Abu Bakr Shekau had declared in an audio his pledge of allegiance to ISIS; which agitated the entire world.
ISIS depends on three basic elements in order to spread its network in this Dark Continent, which can be described as follows:
Legacy of Al-Qaida
After 9/11, 2001 attacks, Al-Qaeda successfully established its network in many countries of Africa, especially in Muslim majority countries or those where Muslims are living as the first or second major minority. However in course of time, Al Qaeda lost control over its branches and remained as a dynamic volatile organization and an imagination established in the supposed world. It lost its significance among its radical members and then did not have ability to perpetrate terrorist activities. With sufficient capability of setting up of its ruling in a larger geographical area, when ISIS first appeared as an armed religious organization, it attracted the attention of extremist terrorist outfits from across the world including Africa and then they all turned their pledge of allegiance from Al-Qaeda to ISIS.
Promotion of Ideology
The ideology of ISIS which attracted many extremist organizations of Africa does not hold in its essence any part of deep intellectual ideas. This is nothing more than just a “practical step”. Utilizing historical concepts like “Jihad al-Talab”, “Al-Wala Wal-Bara” and “caliphate”, ISIS tried to implement its plots. To an extent, ISIS succeeded in this process. Now the recruitment of practical workers in such organizations operating in Africa can easily be made. Those who can be affected to a greater extent by this recruitment are the Salafi-oriented individuals.
Benefitting From Failures
In countries stricken with political crisis and mutual fight over power, the terrorist organizations find an adequate and smooth environment; where they can not only produce their supporters and recruit them in their ranks but also try to weaken the National Houses, exploiting the ongoing political crisis, in a bid to spread anarchy and reach out to power and governance. ISIS is no exception to it and similarly many other organizations also exploit this situation.
However just as the small and big organizations from other continents are declaring their loyalty to ISIS, so too the organizations in Africa have supported and pledged allegiance to ISIS. From Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis or Ansar Jerusalem ("Supporters of Jerusalem") pledged its allegiance to ISIS. A group of this organization has come from the Gaza Strip, which has formed this outfit by integrating into the local organization.
There was an organization in Algeria known as Jund al-Khalifa which was originally a branch of Al-Qaeda, but its regional leader Khalid Abu Sulayman deceived al-Qaeda, and announced its allegiance to ISIS, after which this organization fought against the government. Many of its main leaders and commanders were killed in this collision, such as Abdul Malek Quri. This organization has been involved in kidnapping and killing the foreigners.
Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia carried out many terrorist attacks against the army. The attack on Bordo National Museum was one of the most prominent attacks perpetrated by this outfit. In this attack 23 people were killed at the scene and around fifty others were injured. There is also an organization named “the Uqba bin Nafi Battalion”. Both the afore-mentioned organizations have pledged their allegiance to ISIS.
ISIS is very powerful in Libya. Thousands of fighters from North Africa are included in its ranks. ISIS in Libya is trying to move towards Egypt in the east and Tunisia and Algeria in the west.
ISIS is trying hard to include “Harakat al-Shabab” of Somalia in its ranks. However it succeeded in taking allegiance from Boko Haram of Nigeria. By this allegiance, Boko Haram, which is involved into committing anti-human activities, has strengthened ISIS in Africa. The organization will get suitable facilities for training, arms storage and recruitment, whereby they will be able to move towards Sudan in the Middle East. One of the UN reports shows that Darfur will become the secure shelter of the terrorists.
Earlier ISIS declared that all the countries of North Africa including Sudan are its provinces. Although this announcement was just ideological, this reveals the intentions of ISIS. The spread of ISIS in Africa will result into severe security, political and economic disadvantage. The weaker countries will hardly cope up with it. In some other countries the problems of army and security forces will increase, while at the political level it will become a headache. If ISIS remained, it would probably be not possible for Libya to be united, while ISIS is also trying hard in Tunisia to spread the fight in the streets of the capital.
Algeria, which has witnessed more than one million dead bodies in a bloody decade in the past, has been taking a stern look at the armed organizations which have not yet surrendered and are not included in the national stream, and those which have also pledged allegiance to ISIS. As for Egypt, its situation is worse where almost on a daily basis the attacks are being carried out in various parts of the country, including Sinai.
If ISIS succeeds in taking steps in West Africa, this will be dangerous for the supply of oil to Europe and America from there; which is likely to open a new chapter of international intervention. After a long-term indifference, the United States of America has suddenly taken interest in countries of West Africa. The latest geological surveys show that these countries are rich in oil reserves.
Having occupied oil reserves of Iraq and Syria, and sold them in the black market, ISIS made its source of income. ISIS could repeat this effort in weak Africa and occupy oil reserves of Africa; else it can destroy them. In short, the existence of ISIS in Africa can lead to severe threats to African peace and can lay a negative impact on its economic resources.
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