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Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

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Linkages of terrorist groups in West Africa with terrorist networks in other African regions

by Ini Dele-Adedeji, Sofia Koller

Third Paper of the “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” project

The third article of the publication series deals with the linkage of regional terrorist groups (JNIM, ISWAP and ISGS) with terrorist networks outside the region (North Africa, Central Africa and East Africa).

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Executive Summary

  • This policy paper summarizes the current state of affairs regarding the linkages of terrorist groups in West Africa with terrorist networks in other African regions. It also provides recommendations for policymakers and security agencies.
  • The paper looks at linkages of JNIM, IS West Africa Province (ISWAP), and IS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) with terrorist groups in North, West-Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa.
  • In West Africa, ISWAP’s activities have been regionally confined to Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. There is no indication that ISWAP intends to expand its territorial base beyond these countries or that it has any transregional linkage with terrorist groups in other parts of Africa.
  • JNIM and ISGS have demonstrated that they possess the intention and capability of regional expansion across West Africa. Increasing attacks further southwards in West Africa and their presence in the neighboring regions of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, and Benin suggests that both groups intend to expand their geographical zone of influence to the Gulf of Guinea. There is, however, no indication of either JNIM or ISGS forming a transregional linkage with terrorist groups in other African sub-regions.
  • In North, West-Central, East, and Southern Africa, there are also currently no indications that terrorist groups have developed linkages with other terrorist networks beyond their own region.
  • Terrorist groups in West Africa are pragmatic in their approach to collaborations. Their choice of network linkages is guided by local dynamics and their own particular agenda rather than ideology. Hence, existing linkages are driven by the involvement in transnational organized crime (TNCO), potential financial gains as well as the potential of financing terrorism via local and international sources, training of fighters, foreign terrorist fighters from other African countries, and weapons smuggling and use of small arms and light weapons (SALWs).


Read the entire article as pdf.

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Anna Wasserfall

Anna Wasserfall bild

Policy Advisor for West Africa and Digital Formats Sub-Saharan Africa +49 30 26996-3679


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