U.S. Counterterrorism Priorities and Challenges in Africa
- Across the African continent, jihadist extremist activity increased from 288 attacks in 2009 to 3,050 in 2018. Organizations, including Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and various regional affiliates of ISIS, continue to destabilize already fragile African states, with significant implications for U.S. national security interests.
- Drivers of terrorist recruitment and violence in Africa are systemic, including but not limited to factors such as widespread poverty, the expansion of illicit trade in vast border areas, ethnic divisions, and weak or abusive governance.
- Under the Trump Administration’s National Security Strategy, in November 2018, the Department of Defense announced that it would reduce its overall footprint in Africa from approximately 7,200 personnel to about 6,480 and that in certain regions such as West Africa, emphasis would shift “from tactical assistance to advising, assisting, liaising, and sharing intelligence.”
Director, Africa Program
Center for Strategic & International Studies
Deputy Director for Advocacy and Government Relations
Specialist in African Affairs
Congressional Research Service
Senior Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle East
The Heritage Foundation