Jihadists are filling the void as the West wrests its ‘war on terror’, the UN warns

The UN report suggests a consistent pattern. Wherever there is little or no pressure on jihadi terrorist groups, they thrive. In Afghanistan, where the United States says it will complete its military withdrawal by August 31, the UN warns of a possible “further deterioration” in the security situation. In Somalia, the report said, the US troop withdrawal and the partial decline of the African Union mission have left Somali special forces “struggling to contain” al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab.

In Mali, where France is shutting down its counter-terrorism mission, the report said al-Qaeda-linked terrorists have consolidated their influence and are “claiming more and more populated areas.” In Mozambique, the report says, the “absence of significant counter-terrorist measures” has turned an ISIS ally in Central Africa into “a major threat”.

Jihadist terror attacks in Europe and North America have declined – but UN experts expect this to be temporary as terrorist violence during the COVID-19 pandemic has been reduced to “borders in travel, meeting, fundraising and identifying viable targets.” has been artificially suppressed”. At the same time, he believes that the risk of online radicalization has increased during the lockdown.

Edmund Fitton-Brown, the coordinator of the UN monitoring team, told CNN: “One of the things we have highlighted in the report is that the easing of the lockdown could mean that there could be some pre-planned attacks. ” .

The report is grim to read at a time when the United States—and its allies—tired by the pandemic and eager to focus on economic recovery and stand up for China and Russia, all but ended the 20-year war. is terminated. On terror. As one prominent analyst recently put it: “We may be with the jihadists, but they are not with us.”

Africa becomes new center of global jihad

The report warned that Africa is now “the region most affected by terrorism” – with al Qaeda and ISIS-aligned groups incurring more casualties than anywhere else. In many areas, these groups are gaining support, threatening more territory, getting better weapons and raising more money.

The United Nations monitors Somalia alone – which is mired in turmoil and receiving less international military support than ever before. He warned that al-Shabaab could fill the void in the form of “strategic support” for the decline of Somali government forces. The threat the group poses is underscored by a recent US indictment an alleged Kenyan operative who “received pilot training in the Philippines in preparation for hijacking a commercial aircraft and crashing it into a building in the United States, as directed by senior al-Shabaab leaders.”
After the attack on the Afrique Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia in January.  Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, which CNN has been unable to independently verify.  UN report warned that al-Shabaab "strategic support"  There is a decline for Somali government forces.

The UN report said al-Shabaab is one of several terror allies to increase the use of drones for reconnaissance and to threaten low-flying aircraft in a region dependent on humanitarian flights to maintain vulnerable populations. has the capacity.

Much of West Africa and the Sahel have been embroiled in jihadist violence in recent years. Last month, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged that the country was still battling a serious insurgency, despite Boko Haram, whose leader Abubakar Shekau suffered a setback. allegedly died During an attack by a regional ISIS affiliate (ISWAP) in May.

While UN monitors say Boko Haram is “significantly vulnerable,” ISWAP could strengthen in the Lake Chad region and attempt to expand its operations towards the major Nigerian city of Maiduguri.

UN warns on fresh threat from Taliban, still closely linked to al-Qaeda
The human toll of these rebellions is astonishing. in June, United Nations Development Program estimates that by the end of 2020 Nigeria’s conflict with Islamic insurgents resulted in approximately 350,000 deaths, 314,000 of which were from indirect causes such as displacement and poverty.

UN monitoring reports suggest that ISIS-linked terrorists have already killed hundreds of civilians this year in a series of attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. And al Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahel are making a concerted effort toward the Atlantic coast, with Senegal, Cte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana and Togo among the countries at significant risk.

On the other side of Africa, part of northern Mozambique is outside government control. in March, Local ISIS ally briefly captured The city of Palma – an important center in the country’s campaign to develop its natural gas potential. The UN report said the group collected between $1 million and $2 million from looting local banks, and is well positioned for future raids in the area.

Persistent threat in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan

The threat from ISIS is far from extinguished in Iraq and Syria, with the group with estimated reserves of $25 million to $50 million. The report said that ISIS has “somewhat re-established itself in Iraq” this year, facing “constant pressure against terrorism”. Just this week, ISIS Baghdadi bombing claim In which at least 30 people were killed. UN monitors say that according to member states, ISIS still has “the intention and ability to sustain a long-term insurgency in the Syrian desert” that borders Iraq.

Elsewhere in Syria, the report stated that “the groups aligned [al Qaeda] continues to dominate the Idlib region,” where terrorist fighters number more than 10,000. It says member states are concerned that jihadist fighters may move into Afghanistan from that region, making the environment more hospitable.

With the Taliban rapidly expanding across Afghanistan, there is widespread concern that the group will take control of the country and allow it to once again become a platform for international terrorism. According to the UN report, al Qaeda is present in at least 15 Afghan provinces, and operates “under Taliban protection from Kandahar, Helmand and Nimruz provinces”.

Rockets land near Afghanistan's Rashtrapati Bhavan during Eid prayers

In a CNN interview this week, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group had made a commitment not to allow “any person or group or entity to use … against other countries” and said the militants would have “no place” in Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

But Fitton-Brown says the Taliban “has not severed ties with al Qaeda. They have not taken any action against al Qaeda that they cannot easily and quickly reverse.”

“The Taliban attack in Afghanistan “does not give the international community enough confidence that they are moving towards a stable dialogue in Afghanistan and a genuine commitment to an eventual peaceful solution,” he says.

There is also concern that ISIS has a solid foothold in Afghanistan, with one member state reporting that it currently has between 500 and 1,500 fighters. Despite weakening in parts of eastern Afghanistan, UN experts warn that regional allies of ISIS have “moved to other provinces” and “strengthened their positions in and around Kabul, where it maintains most of its territory”. attacks.”

absent leadership

This is a time of transition and uncertainty as far as the leadership of these terror groups is concerned. The UN report said Amir Muhammad al-Mawla, who took over as leader of ISIS more than 18 months ago, is “reluctant to communicate directly with supporters.” It says that ISIS’s “command and control over its provinces has been loosened,” referring to its international allies.

The UN report said that with al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri “assessed alive but unsound by member states”, it is uncertain where the group’s potential next leader will be based. Member states report that al-Zawahiri’s “likely successor” is a veteran Egyptian terrorist Saif Al Adeli, which is “currently located in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

UN monitors say if she had found the top job, it was unclear if Adele would go to Afghanistan. They state that “some member states point to their history of living and operating in Africa and assess that it may choose to base itself there.”

concern for the next generation

Two decades after 9/11, the ability of al Qaeda and ISIS to threaten the West is less than it is currently. But the UN report shows that threats posed by international jihadist groups have metastasized, and they remain trapped in less-governed regions as Western powers engage in other issues.

“It is important that we do not lose sight of counter-terrorism, and it is especially important not to stop improving international counter-terrorism cooperation,” says Fitton-Brown.

A generation earlier, the international jihadist movement was activated by the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan. It is now celebrating the end of the United States military presence—and possibly anticipating a new influx of recruits into Afghanistan and beyond—to fuel the next generation of jihad.


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