Major. General. Dagvin Anderson, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (USSOCAF) said Al-Qaeda is making inroads in northwest Nigeria. HumAngle has equally published several reports in the past over similar threats.
The USSOCAF was concerned over the expansion of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the Sahel and parts of West Africa and the United States has been sharing intelligence with Nigeria on the developments.
The commander was speaking to reporters during a press briefing via Zoom video conference from AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
The press briefing centred on United States Counterterrorism effort, COVID pandemic risks, partnership and engagement in Africa.
The Special Operations Commander emphasized that since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there has not been a change in U.S. posture and counter-terrorism effort on the continent.
He also highlighted the threat posed by violent extremist groups from Senegal – Nigeria and efforts of French-led counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane in the Sahel.
The Sahelian Counterterrorism Operation succeeded operation Serval, that started in January 2013 to push jihadist out of northern Mali.
In response to a question on the United States and Nigeria security partnership, the commander said Nigeria is a critical nation to West Africa, due to its economy, population and influence in the region.
He stated that the United States has good collaboration with Nigeria and highlighted U.S. support for integration of air and ground operation.
“We have partnered with great effect with Nigeria in counterterrorism in the past. We’ve had good engagements with their air force in particular and providing C-208 capability, which is a light, fixed-wing ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance),” he said.
It is unclear when the US provided the C-208 aircraft, or the commander was referring to Nigerien Air Force, a known beneficiary and operator of US ISR C-208 aircraft, however, the U.S Air force is supporting Nigeria’s Air Force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft deal.
In May 2020, HumAngle reported that Jihadis are Gaining Grounds in Nigeria’s NorthWest.
Against the background of increased terrorism in the region, alarm was raised over the infiltration of Jihadi elements, including Ansaru, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others in the region.
Many Nigerian security and other independent local sources interviewed reveal that amid the instability in Zamfara State and elsewhere, two Boko Haram offshoots, including the faction with links to Al-qaeda are making inroads into the region.
It explained that the groups were forging tighter relationships with aggrieved communities, herder-affiliated armed groups and criminal gangs.
Similarly, in June the paper published another report on the Sahel and links to northwest Nigeria following the killing of a top Al-Qaeda leader by French forces.
The rivalry extends beyond Al-Qaeda linked groups in the region, IS affiliates in the region see the killing of an influential leader of Al-Qaeda in the region as an advancement of their influence.
They consider Al-Qaeda as much a threat to their ambitions in the region as the state forces battling them in the countries in the Sahel.
Already, Islamic State sympathizers, as HumAngle gathered, are blaming the killing of Abdelmalek Droukdel, on Al-Qaeda’s non-Takfiri stand that accommodates some level of inter-dependence between Jihadists and host communities or other non-Jihadi networks.
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