Africa Emerges as Global Terrorism Hotspot with Half of 2022’s Victims

by Gabriel Martinez
Indiana Tornado

According to counter-terrorism experts, Africa has become the epicenter of terrorism worldwide, accounting for half of the victims killed in 2022 in sub-Saharan Africa. Although al-Qaida and Islamic State affiliates remain active across the globe, Interpol, the international criminal police agency, reported a significant increase in terrorism associated with extreme right-wing ideology, particularly in Europe, North America, and parts of the Asia-Pacific region, over the past decade.

The experts have identified several emerging trends. Global security is deteriorating, leading to a more complex and decentralized terrorism threat. Extremists are utilizing sophisticated technology, including drones and artificial intelligence, to plan and execute attacks more effectively.

The United Nations recently hosted a high-level conference on counter-terrorism, bringing together experts from various international organizations and countries such as Russia, the United States, and Qatar, as well as Google’s senior manager for strategic intelligence.

The conference’s overarching theme is to address terrorism through revitalized international cooperation. During the opening session, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the importance of not only thwarting attacks but also preventing terrorism by addressing underlying drivers such as poverty, discrimination, and human rights violations.

During the conference, Africa took center stage as the key battleground for terrorism. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari highlighted Africa’s increase in active terrorist groups, attributing their emergence to local political, economic, and social fractures, porous borders, and identity-based mobilization. Several regions in Africa, including Burkina Faso, the Sahel, Chad, and Sudan, continue to face the consequences of weapons and foreign fighters flowing from Libya.

Col. Gen. Igor Sirotkin, deputy director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, expressed concern over West Africa, particularly the Maghreb and the Sahel, becoming the epicenter of the Islamist terrorist threat. He warned of the danger of ISIS being resurrected as an African caliphate.

Counter-terrorism efforts were urged to focus on Africa by Qatar’s special envoy for counter-terrorism, Mutiaq Al-Qahtani. He emphasized that sub-Saharan Africa accounted for half of the victims of terrorist acts in 2022.

The coordinator of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against the Islamic State and al-Qaida, Justin Hustwitt, noted the deteriorating situation in West Africa. He pointed out that IS in the greater Sahara is taking advantage of the absence of counter-terrorism operations, particularly in the tri-border area of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Concerns are also growing regarding IS and al-Qaida exploiting any opportunities in Congo.

Gregory Hinds, Interpol’s counter-terrorism director, highlighted the continued influence of al-Qaida and IS-related groups, leading to attacks across multiple regions, including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Secretary-General Guterres also highlighted the rise of neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements as primary internal security threats in several countries. He further acknowledged the global deterioration of security, with the number of conflicts increasing after two decades of decline. Civil wars, once localized, now have a higher likelihood of internationalization, leading to fragmented conflict parties and creating favorable conditions for non-state armed groups, including terrorists.

On a positive note, Gregory LoGerfo, the U.S. State Department’s deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism, mentioned significant progress in defeating and neutralizing IS leadership in Iraq and Syria. However, he emphasized that more work needs to be done.

Justin Hustwitt echoed the sentiment that Daesh’s leadership has suffered substantial losses, and the group’s resources are depleting. He also acknowledged Google’s commitment to combating extremist content, utilizing advanced AI-driven technologies to detect and remove such material. However, he cautioned against the potential misuse of artificial intelligence, which could amplify societal issues like misinformation, discrimination, and terrorist activities if not developed and deployed responsibly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about terrorism hotspot

What is the current status of terrorism in Africa?

According to counter-terrorism experts, Africa has emerged as the world’s terrorism hotspot. Half of the victims killed in 2022 were in sub-Saharan Africa, where active terrorist groups, including affiliates of al-Qaida and the Islamic State, operate.

How has terrorism linked to right-wing ideology evolved in recent years?

Terrorism associated with extreme right-wing ideology has seen a significant increase over the past decade, particularly in Europe, North America, and parts of the Asia-Pacific region. Interpol reports a 50-fold rise in such cases, influenced by global events and agendas.

What are the emerging trends in the field of counter-terrorism?

Counter-terrorism experts highlight two major trends. First, global security is deteriorating, making the terrorism threat more complex and decentralized. Second, extremists are increasingly utilizing sophisticated technology, including drones and artificial intelligence, to plan and carry out attacks.

What is the focus of the United Nations conference on counter-terrorism?

The United Nations conference aims to address terrorism through reinvigorated international cooperation. The key focus is not only on foiling attacks but also on preventing terrorism by addressing underlying drivers such as poverty, discrimination, poor infrastructure, and human rights violations.

Why is Africa specifically highlighted during the conference?

Africa is emphasized as the key battleground for terrorism due to the significant increase in active terrorist groups on the continent. Local political, economic, and social fractures, along with porous borders and identity-based mobilization, have fueled the emergence of al-Qaida and the Islamic State. Several regions, including Burkina Faso, the Sahel, Chad, and Sudan, face the consequences of weapons and foreign fighters flowing from Libya.

What concerns exist regarding the future of terrorism in Africa?

Experts express concern about the potential for ISIS to be reincarnated as an African caliphate, particularly in West Africa, the Maghreb, and the Sahel. The absence of counter-terrorism operations in certain areas, such as the tri-border region of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, and the possibility of exploitation in Congo, raise growing concerns about the spread of terrorism in Africa.

How are technology and artificial intelligence utilized in counter-terrorism efforts?

Extremists are increasingly using sophisticated technology, and counter-terrorism agencies are incorporating advanced AI-driven tools for detection and prevention. However, there is a need for responsible development and deployment of AI systems to prevent amplifying societal issues, such as misinformation, discrimination, and misuse of technology by bad actors, including terrorists.

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TerrorFighter June 21, 2023 - 10:03 am

interpool says terrorism linked to extreme right-wing ideology increased 50-fold? thats a lot! we need to stop these hate groups from spreading their agenda!

AfricaLover June 21, 2023 - 11:42 am

africa is taking the spotlight at the UN conference on counter-terrorism? its about time! we need more focus on tackling terrorism on the continent! porous borders and local fractures make it difficult to control the situation!

TechEnthusiast June 21, 2023 - 12:48 pm

extremists using drones and AI for attacks? that’s a scary thought! technology can be a double-edged sword. we need responsible AI development to prevent misuse by terrorists!

User123 June 21, 2023 - 5:06 pm

africa is now the world’s terrorism hot spot? omg! half of the victims were in sub-saharan africa? thats scary! we need to do something abt it!

NewsJunkie June 21, 2023 - 6:48 pm

global conflicts on the rise again? that’s concerning! civil wars becoming internationalized? that’s even worse! we need to find peaceful solutions and prevent armed groups from spreading!

UNObserver June 21, 2023 - 11:15 pm

global security is getting worse? oh no! we need to work together to fight terrorism and prevent attacks! poverty, discrimination, and human rights violations are driving factors we must address!

PeaceSeeker June 22, 2023 - 12:30 am

it’s great to see efforts for international cooperation to fight terrorism! united we stand against these threats! let’s work together to make the world safer for everyone!


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