More Than Half Of Islamic State Operations Now In Africa 

Twenty-three of the 37 attacks claimed by the terror group in the last week of May took place on the continent. Its affiliate groups have been particularly active in Central and West Africa.

The Islamic State — also called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) — has claimed that Africa now accounts for more than 60 per cent of its global operations, indicating its continued drive to expand in the region and positioning the continent as a new frontier for international terrorism. 

The presence of ISIS-affiliated groups in Africa allows them to recruit, train, and launch attacks all over the continent. 

This trend started when the Islamic State called for migration to Africa, which it described as the land of migration (hijra) and jihad, after losing its grip in the Middle East. 

In the 445th issue of Al-Naba, a weekly propaganda newsletter, which detailed its activities from May 23 to May 30, the group stated that 23 (62 per cent) of the 37 operations in the period took place in Africa. This underscores the terror group’s increasing capacity to exploit the region’s vulnerabilities. Of the attacks, 14 took place in Central Africa, seven in West Africa, one in Libya, and one in Mozambique.

The newsletter further claimed that the Islamic State’s operations in the last week of May had 224 victims.

Infographic in Arabic detailing levels of Hell with corresponding punishments and names.
Infographic from the Al-Naba Newsletter. 

The group’s expanding footprint in Africa has profound implications for regional and global security. The continent’s vast ungoverned spaces, porous borders, and socio-political challenges provide fertile ground for militant groups to thrive. 

Central Africa emerges as the primary theatre of operations. The region, notably including countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, has seen increased militant activity. ISIS-affiliated groups, such as IS-Mozambique, have been particularly active, leveraging the existing tension and waging deadly attacks in the country.

In Central Africa, the ISIS targets are mostly civilians in villages. They instil fear and exert control over local populations by destroying their homes. In Mozambique, several homes were targeted, and a large number of locals were displaced. The terrorists in Mozambique particularly target the Christian population as part of the ISIS “Break the Cross” campaign.

ISIS has recently given the Break the Cross campaign particular attention. In its recent Dabiq Magazine, the extremist group gave it a cover page and reiterated commitments to fighting Christians as part of a larger attack on those who aren’t ideologically linked to the group. 

On May 4, the terrorists attacked civilians in the Beni region of Eastern Congo, killed more than 10 people, burned their homes, and confiscated their properties. This caused a mass displacement of civilians in the area.

Through the West African Province (ISWAP), West Africa remains a critical zone for ISIS. Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin have been a long-standing hotspot as the regional affiliate sustains efforts to destabilise the region, disrupt local governance, and control territory.

Recent propaganda materials released by the group have shown how they intensify attacks on military positions through a suicide mission and also continuously targeting civilians. On May 3, ISWAP released a picture showing the killing of a person they accused of working with the Nigerien military as a spy in the Diffa region. Another picture was released by the group on Wednesday, May 5, showing three civilians they killed after they were captured on the Kamoye-Buratai Road in Borno, northeastern Nigeria. 

Counter-terrorism analysts note that terrorists, particularly IS affiliates, use suicide missions as a last resort in waging attacks, indicating that they were facing enormous military offensives.

The Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) has said that about 176 Boko Haram fighters have recently surrendered and 140 terrorists were neutralised in Operation Lake Sanity II around the Lake Chad Basin. According to Major General Ibrahim Ali, the commander of the MNJTF, the operation has also resulted in the destruction of crucial terrorists’ logistic bases and staging areas, particularly around Tumbum Fulani, Bagadaza, Zannari, Doron Naira, and other key locations.

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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