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 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.
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 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.
Persistent threat in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan
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”.
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.”
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.
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.