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New terrorism threat ‘hot spot’ identified by counterterrorism experts

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on June 11, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (Li Muzi/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
June 21, 2023

Africa is now considered to be the current “hot spot” for terrorism, according to counterterrorism experts.

The United Nations held a panel Tuesday regarding the assessment of current and emerging terrorism threats around the world. At the U.N.’s conference, experts from Interpol, the United States, Russia, Qatar, the U.N., and Google’s senior manager for strategic intelligence discussed the growing terrorism activity in Africa. While threats such as ISIS and al-Qaida remain in different countries across the world, counterterrorism experts said half of the terrorist victims in 2022 were killed in Africa, according to The Associated Press.

Military Times reported that the U.N.’s theme for its conference on counterterrorism is addressing the issue of terrorism through “reinvigorated international cooperation.” During the opening session of the conference on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized unity and cooperation in preventing terrorism by addressing issues such as human rights violations, discrimination, poverty, inadequate infrastructure and other issues.

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The Military Times reported that multiple parts of Africa, including Chad, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Sahel, are currently facing issues due to the heightened flow of both weapons and foreign fighters from Libya. Following the 2011 toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has been in a state of upheaval. Additionally, the nation has faced further threats as many foreign fighters entered the country after the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in 2017.

“Africa has emerged as the key battleground for terrorism, with a major increase in the number of active groups operating on the continent,” U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari said.

Khiari explained that the al-Qaida and ISIS have emerged in Africa due to economic, political and social “fractures” in the region, as well as open borders and “identity-based mobilization.”

During the U.N.’s panel, Col. Gen. Igor Sirotkin, deputy director of Russia’s Federal Security Service and head of its National Anti-Terrorism Committee, explained that West Africa, particularly the Maghreb and Sahel regions, “are becoming the epicenter of the Islamist terrorist threat, with the armed terrorist groups expanding their influence, and we see the danger of ISIS being reincarnated as an African caliphate.”