On Sunday, the Head of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Vladimir Voronkov, called for global action to stem the expansion of the Islamic State (IS) in Africa.
Voronkov said those affiliated with the IS’ West Africa Province will likely benefit as Boko Haram grows weaker, and as extremists and foreign fighters from Libya support their efforts. IS activity in Central Africa, notably in northern Mozambique, may have “far-reaching implications” for regional security.
The most alarming development in the counter-terrorism arena over the past six months has been the spread of the IS in Africa, with spillovers from Libya to Chad, Mali into Burkina Faso and Niger, incursions from Nigeria into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and from Mozambique into Tanzania.
IS’ affiliate in the “Greater Sahara” has killed several hundred civilians since the beginning of the year in large-scale attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and the situation in the wider region could be aggravated by the relocation of terrorists and other foreign fighters from Libya.
The expansion of the IS in Central Africa, and especially in northern Mozambique, could have far-reaching implications for peace and security in the region. It needs to be addressed through a coherent, regional approach as the group’s affiliates may seek to exploit inter-communal disputes and illicit trafficking activities, Voronkov said.