Sunday, March 25, 2012

Al Qaeda Presence Grows in Africa

Al Qaeda's "footprint" is expanding in Africa, as shown by the terrorist group's relationship with Somalia's Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahedeen, which joined AQ in February 2012.

"News of the new union prompted celebrations in southern and central Somalia, areas long controlled by al-Shabaab," Rohan Gunaratna reports.

Al-Qaeda’s union with al-Shabaab threatens both the Horn of Africa—Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti—and East Africa, which includes Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Although al-Qaeda has suffered massive degradation since Osama bin Laden’s death, its footprint is expanding in Africa. It has already established an ideological and operational presence in three areas on the continent—the Maghreb, the Sahel and West Africa. A large Muslim population, an especially large youth population and porous borders make Africa ripe for ideological extremism and terrorism. Without significant international investment to fight poverty, corruption and poor governance, the influence of al-Qaeda and its associated groups will spread to other parts of Africa in the coming decade.

Click here to read Gunaratna's article.