Jihadists Are Trying to Take Over the Sahel

(Economist-UK) As the American and other allied troops who helped crush IS are quietly heading home, a form of IS' brutal ideology is taking root in and around the Sahel, the arid, sparsely populated belt of land that runs along the southern fringe of the Sahara desert. Last year the jihadists in Africa killed some 10,000 people, mostly civilians. That compares with about 2,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Nigerian jihadist group, has 3,500 fighters and is trying to build a "caliphate." Jihadists connected to al-Qaeda and IS have attacked Western embassies, hotels and oil facilities in the Sahel. A suicide-bombing in 2017 that claimed 23 lives in Manchester has been linked to Libya. So too was an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 that killed 12 people. The risks of more such attacks will grow if jihadists are allowed to hold territory and establish camps. France already has 4,500 troops in Africa; America has 6,000. Yet they are having an outsize effect by training, supporting and providing crucial intelligence to the African armies that are doing almost all the fighting.

2018-07-20 00:00:00

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