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Opportunism and localism drive Africa Islamist groups

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Significance

Militants targeted Baga town in Borno state on January 3. Unverified reports suggest that this may have been the group's most deadly attack on civilians to date. From Boko Haram, to al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, to al-Qaida splinter groups in the Sahel-Sahara region, international concern is growing about militant Islamist groups in Africa, raising questions about their motivations and potential for further development.

Impacts

  • Militant Islamist groups in Africa will tend not to direct and organise attacks in the West.
  • However, they may opportunistically praise or associate themselves with attacks by individuals and groups in the West.
  • In local contexts, larger groups (eg, Boko Haram) may take control of more provincial towns and small cities.
  • However, their ability to expand will remain limited by the challenge of administering large and socially different populations.
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