Idriss Mounir Lallali is the Deputy Director and Acting (Interim) Director of the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) and was part of the multidisciplinary team designated by the African Union to launch the Centre. Among his primary responsibilities are leading the design and development of the Centre’s Counter-Terrorism Early Warning System and managing a team of analysts who conduct policy analysis, studies, synthesis, and audits on terrorism in Africa. He previously provided assistance to consultants appointed by the A.U. to the African Anti-Terrorist Model Law, managed the Focal Point Community Database, and led the Monitoring Process of ratification of the African and Universal Counterterrorism Instruments. Mr. Lallali currently also leads a team of experts who evaluate the counterterrorism capacity of African Union member states

CTC: Can you to tell us a little bit about ACSRT and your position there? What does ACSRT do, and how does it fit into the broader African Union Peace and Security Architecture?

Lallali: I’m the Acting Director of the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, which has its headquarters in Algiers, Algeria. I’ve been working at ACSRTa for over 17 years. I was head of Analysis Unit—Alert and Prevention Unit—for 10 years, and I think I still have that analyst mindset in the back of my mind, even if more recently I’ve been in managerial positions.

ACSRT was established on October 13, 2004, out of necessity, I would say, as a result of the emergence of the threat on the African continent. The A.U. [African Union] had as early as 1999 developed its counterterrorism framework, translated into the 1999 Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, commonly known as the Algiers Convention since it was adopted in Algiers.1 This was followed by the 2002 Plan of Action for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism,2 followed by the 2004 Protocol to the 1999 Convention3 that came to address some of the inherent weaknesses of the Convention and their impact on its implementation.b These were the first major documents and decisions regarding terrorism that were compiled into legal instruments by the A.U. member states. Member states adopted them, ratified them, and they now guide our work.

Already in 2002, we could read between the lines that there was a need for the A.U. to take the lead and create a coordinating structure when it comes to preventing and combating terrorism. And when you look at the Plan of Action of 2002, you will realize that this was indeed a foundation upon which ACSRT was laid.

ACSRT’s main missions are collecting and centralizing information related to terrorism in Africa, analyzing trends to inform A.U. and member state decisions and actions, building the prevention and combating of terrorism capacity of A.U. member states, and assisting member states in implementing their international counterterrorism obligations—namely, the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, international standards and norms, and so on.

How do we do that? ACSRT has three fundamental units. The first unit is the Alert and Prevention Unit. The second is the Database and Documentation Unit. The third is the Training and Equipment Unit. The first and second units form what we call the Continental Early Warning System [CEWS] on CT. This works to provide continuous threat assessment and analysis on terrorism and violent extremism in Africa. It also works to assess the capacity and readiness of member states and to identify CT gaps and technical/operational capacity needs.

CTC: So the Continental Terrorism Early Warning System (CTEWS) is based at ACSRT.

Lallali: Yes, ACSRT is the technical arm of the A.U. on CT-related matters, including CT capacity-building and policy orientation. The Centre is basically the one-stop shop for anything that deals with CT and violent extremism on the African continent. In this regard and in implementation of our mandate of, inter alia, enhancing information sharing and dissemination between the Centre and the A.U., but also between and with A.U. member states and regions, we established what we commonly call the ACSRT-CT Early Warning System (CTEWS), which is operational 24/7 and is in continued and permanent liaison and contact with National and Regional Focal Points. These are the interlocutors that have been officially designated by their member states and regions to liaise with ACSRT. They are the point of entry and exit of all information exchange between ACSRT and the African Union member states and regions. When I say regions, I have to also indicate that the idea of a region has developed from Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to also now encompass Regional Mechanisms (RMs).c As the threat evolved on the continent, the creation of new security mechanisms and initiatives has required us to go beyond the RECs and to look at the RMs as part of our Focal Point community.

The Focal Point corresponds to a particular institution or lead agency working on counterterrorism, and within which you will have a desk officer or a contact person that will allow us not only to request terrorism or CT-related information but also to disseminate information and early warning products emanating from us to the relevant stakeholders at the level of our member states and regions. As you can imagine, with the development of the threat, we realized that even the concept of Focal Points and its roles and responsibilities (as stipulated in the Code of Conducting Regulating the Relationship between the Focal Point and the ACSRT), had to evolve to integrate the many criminal activities that were linked to terrorism that needed to be embedded in that structure. In that respect, we started promoting and encouraging member states to establish national CT fusion centers, bringing under one roof all actors that have a role to play in CT, including financial intelligence units, which until now in many of our member states were not considered part of the national intelligence community. As a matter of fact, in collaboration with the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the U.N. Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), we are assisting several countries in developing their national fusion centers, including Mozambique, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Botswana. Many other countries have since expressed the wish to get assistance in developing their fusion centers, including regions such as SADC,d who we are assisting in establishing their regional CT center.

Indeed, from a regional perceptive, in Africa we have two fusion centers which are already operational: L’Unité de Liaison de Fusion (UFL) – Sahel, which is based near the ACSRT office in Algiers, and the East Africa Fusion and Liaison Unit (EA-FLU), which is based in Kampala, Uganda. Both have clearly demonstrated the importance of such structures in enhancing regional CT cooperation and coordination.

CTC: Groups aligned with al-Qa`ida and the Islamic State are present in many parts of Africa. What is your assessment of the evolving threat they pose?

Lallali: When I look at al-Qa`ida and I look at the Islamic State, they are two faces of the same coin. They have the same objectives. But they don’t agree on how to implement their agendas: one is looking towards the long term—this is the al-Qa`ida folks and their veterans—while the other, namely the Islamic State, is much more focused on the short term, in tune with the fast-paced and tech-savvy Generation Z; they are as fast as the internet connection. They want to get things done quickly, whereas al-Qa`ida is still working at the Commodore 64 pace. It’s a generational clash.

Since their objectives are the same, sometimes I question whether they are really in competition or whether there is a division of labor between the two groups. I always push our analysts to think that way. Maybe while al-Qa`ida is really looking at how to achieve those goals in the long term, the agreement with Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, is “keep the international community occupied while we’re doing our own longer-term business.” Al-Qa`ida has a more sustainable approach compared to Daesh, which seems to be all over the place, trying to be everywhere geographically and, by that, diverting the attention on to its actions and not on AQ.

I think al-Qa`ida’s survival over 20 years or 30 years now demonstrates a very high degree of resilience, long term-thinking, and a long-term strategy that has yet to be well demonstrated by Daesh or any of the Daesh affiliates.

When it comes to threats, in the Sahel, you have mainly al-Qa`ida in the form of JNIM [Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin] and the Islamic State in Greater Sahara. It is important to highlight that JNIM is a conglomerate of the main al-Qa`ida affiliates operating in the region, and who are very active in the other countries of the Sahel.

It is also important to note that the threat posed by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara tends to be exaggerated; however, it should not be underestimated. Although the group did not conduct as many terrorist operations in 2020 compared to JNIM, it demonstrated its ability to launch deadly attacks, in particular in Niger; the best examples are the March 2021 terror attack of the villages of Intazayene, Bakorat, and Wistane, in Niger near the border with Mali that left over 137 villagers dead4 and the December 2019 attack in Inates, in the Tillabéri region of Niger, where a large group of fighters belonging to the ISGS attacked a military post using guns, bombs, and mortars, killing over 71 soldiers.5 The Inates attack was one of the worst attacks in the history of Niger and also among the first in which ISGS used drones to video the attack. It seems that ISGS tends to focus more on attacks that capture media attention than low-key attacks, in an effort to perpetuate the ISIS slogan baqiya wa tatamaddad (remaining and expanding).

Al-Qa`ida is quite persistent through JNIM. Even the leadership itself has gone through some changes whereby it went through different morphing phases, adapting to the local context and conditions. It went through a “Mauritanization” phase and more recently a “Sahelian” phase where even the al-Qa`ida representatives within the Sahel are much more local than they are regional.6

We also have the Islamic State in Western Africa (ISWAP) and Boko Haram.e The clash between the leaders of the two groups could be a strategy like the one that I presented to you earlier where they are in fact cooperating. On the one hand, Boko Haram under Abubakr Shekau, is focusing on Nigeria, but there are many reports that his fighters are still crossing borders here and there, notably in Cameroon. And on the other hand, ISWAP is much more regionally focused. Another important feature of the difference between Boko Haram and ISWAP is that while the former tends to focus more of its attacks against civilian populations and occasionally attacks military personnel, ISWAP primarily targets military personnel and their bases. There are some indications that terrorist elements will move from one group to another, making it difficult for analysts to understand the dynamics within the groups and estimate the number of terrorists in each group. This creates a lot of confusion from that point of view.

In terms of prestige, ISWAP is now being superseded by Islamic State in Central Africa, in particular Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) in Mozambique.

Idriss Mounir Lallali

CTC: ISWAP is composed of two wings. ISWAP-Core is made up of Boko Haram fighters who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015 and is based in the Lake Chad basin. The other wing, ISWAP-Greater Sahara (or ISWAP-GS), used to be called the Islamic State in Greater Sahara and has been active in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.7 To what extent are you seeing evidence that the two wings of ISWAP are cooperating?

Lallali: The relationship has always existed. Let’s go back to the roots. ISGS has its roots in AQIM and before that, the GSPC.f Let’s not forget that al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb had trained in the past Boko Haram individuals, in particular in the manufacturing of IEDs, sharing information, tactics, expertise, and personnel among these groups, which in itself may explain how Boko Haram has been able to quickly develop its bomb-making expertise and tactics. So, individuals within Boko Haram have always had links with AQIM. If you set aside the titles of the groups, you’re still dealing with the same individuals, and so the links are still going to be there. There is this camaraderie and fraternity, whether we like it or not, that exists between these people, which is built on trust that pushes them to continue to cooperate regardless of the differences that may arise at some point or another. Those that came from al-Qa`ida to support Boko Haram in certain operations are the same ones that created ISWAP-Greater Sahara, so that link will definitely be there.

Strategically, from a marketing point of view, I would suspect that Daesh, the mother organization, is the one that pushed for this merger between the two organizations, but there is not as of yet any empirical evidence to demonstrate a formal cooperation between ISWAP-Core and ISWAP-GS, except for the few occasions where ISWAP-GS claimed responsibility for attacks carried out by ISWAP-Core. However, this desire for a merger may be driven by a number of factors. First, because the Islamic State needed to offset the operational capacity losses that ISGS had shown on the ground since they were not conducting as many terrorist activities as they did in the past. So, it was somehow a way to offset that by reinforcing its ranks by merging it with ISWAP-Core or giving the impression that now they have a much wider geographic area controlled under the Daesh banner in West Africa. Strategic considerations from the point of view of terrorist groups have to be taken into consideration when analyzing the merger.

Second, from my point of view ISWAP-Core and ISWAP-Greater Sahara had to create a united front against the expansion of JNIM. They had to give the impression that there is a consortium now also being founded by Daesh affiliates in Western Africa, since—let’s not forget—JNIM is just a consortium, too.

When it comes to the conflict between the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida affiliates in Africa, a key question is: are we seeing a conflict between individuals, or is it a dictated/directed conflict between the global groups themselves? They were working together. They’re coming out of the same womb basically, which is al-Qa`ida’s womb. Remember, the leader of ISWAP-Greater Sahara, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, was a lieutenant to al-Qa`ida’s “MBM”—Mokhtar Belmokhtar—let’s not forget that. He was always at his side.

If you look at the region closely, you realize that al-Qa`ida and the Islamic State clash in certain geographic areas, but they are at the same time cooperating elsewhere. The Liptako-Gourma region [the border region of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger] for instance is the best example. While they are seemingly clashing in northern Mali, they are cooperating in the tri-state border area, where they exchange HUMINT skills, personnel, and even conduct joint operations. One has to take a magnifying glass and really look deeper into this evolving relationship and really question, is it individuals who are still hostile to one another because of an historic grudge they hold against each other, or is it really the two groups fighting each other? It’s difficult to say.

CTC: On the other side of Africa, the Islamic State has a two-winged Central African Province (ISCAP), with one wing—ADF/ISCAP-DRC—active in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the other—ASWJ/ISCAP-Mozambique—active in Mozambique. What is your assessment of the threat posed by the DRC wing?

Lallali: The DRC wing has reportedly grown out of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)g and has become a significant force. Initially, honestly speaking, we thought, “what would the ADF want to do with ISIS, and why would ISIS want to migrate to the region?” However, there were some well-known individuals linked to ISGS that were spotted in the region. One specifically was involved in kidnap-for-ransom in the Sahel. What was puzzling and intriguing is, why is this individual in the region of Central/East Africa—countries bordering DRC? And for me, that was the first indication that something was going to happen between the ADF and the Islamic State, but also that the situation was about to get bad in this part of the continent.

Around the same period, we had reports of some Arab figures in the ranks of ADF, in addition to ISIS funding to ADF, as revealed by the arrest of the ISIS “financial facilitator” Waleed Ahmed Zein for allegedly transferring funds to ADF. So this was also another indicator that Daesh was starting to think about either migrating or opening a new front in Central Africa.

And due to the already volatile situation in eastern DRC, particularly in the Ituri and North Kivu provinces, ISCAP is exploiting the situation to advance their attacks. Indeed, for most of 2020 and for the first half of 2021, terrorist and violent extremist attacks in the DRC have surpassed all other regions of the continent including the Sahel that was hitherto considered as the epicenter.

But then again, in terms of manpower for the DRC wing of ISCAP to recruit foreign fighters, I would assume that it’s quite difficult for FTFs coming from Syria and Iraq to reach DRC; in addition, it will also be seriously challenging for them to acclimate and operate in the jungles of DRC. The environment is completely different to that they are accustomed to.

CTC: I’d like to talk more about the situation in Mozambique as regards ASWJ/ISCAP-Mozambique. Can you speak to how the African Union and ACSRT are thinking about the threat it poses?

Lallali: With regard to ISCAP’s other wing in Mozambique, what was interesting was this emergence of small groups of militants in northern Mozambique that became a group to reckon with. Having experienced the development of the terror threat in northern Mali, we at ACSRT were telling our Mozambican colleagues to ‘watch out,’ as something was brewing, which if not tackled now would become a serious problem to manage. But as was the case with Mali, I don’t think they grasped the gravity of the situation and did not necessarily take seriously the threat as they were supposed to. The indicators were there; all that needed to be done was to look.

In addition, we had clear indication of linkages between the ISCAP in DRC and Mozambican elements. Our DRC colleagues shared with us information and intelligence of the arrest of suspected terrorists of Mozambican origin in the DRC with technical skills and indicating that some of these Mozambican operatives were getting access to training, weapons, explosives, you name it. However, we did not receive indications that these Mozambican operatives returned to Mozambique, but since this coincided with the emergence of Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaa (ASWJ), at the time we could only assume that these trained individuals would soon be taking their new expertise back home with them to help ISCAP-Mozambique. This was later demonstrated by the type of attacks this group was able to conduct in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. This was similar to how Boko Haram was trained by AQIM, where Boko Haram saw their operational capacity increase dramatically, from using machetes to conducting sophisticated attacks using AK-47s, RPGs, and all types of IEDs.8 So this also was an indicator that there is an acquired skill, there is training that’s being conducted, and there is technical support that is being provided to the Mozambican terror group by ISCAP in the DRC. I don’t think that either the Southern African Development Community (SADC) or Mozambique itself appreciated the seriousness of the threat.

At the level of the A.U. and ACSRT, we have been monitoring, since at least 2017, and continue to monitor and follow the situation in Mozambique and the two regions—namely East and Southern Africa—very closely and with great concern. We are worried that if the threat is not contained, it will certainly expand beyond Mozambique to neighboring countries, namely Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Tanzania, which borders Mozambique, is already impacted, as demonstrated by the recent terror activity.

The recent March 2021 attack in Palma, Mozambique,9 redoubled our concerns, as it was a demonstration of a well-developed and executed sophisticated attack. It also showed a high degree of intelligence gathering and military planning. This could not have been possible without some skilled individuals. We are therefore concerned about the flow of fighters from outside the region. As a result, we’re working in coordination with SADC to assist Mozambique and its neighboring countries, while at the same time running a number of consultations with our partners on how best to assist Mozambique and the region to avoid a spillover. As a matter of priority, for instance, we are in collaboration with the UNOCT [United Nations Office of Counterterrorism] and the U.N.’s Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), working on assisting Mozambique in developing its national fusion center, at least so that all the security agencies can start sharing information and intelligence. If you look at how the threat evolved and certain incidents that happened, it is a clear indication of the need for greater coordination between the different law enforcement and security agencies on the ground, as little coordination can only result in poor or ill-prepared reaction. It’s unacceptable that such a strong country as Mozambique, with strong defense forces, is subjected to such an aggression by a group that can not only mount such attacks but occupy space for a period of time.

When we look at ASWJ/ISCAP-Mozambique, let’s not forget they have occupied a port, Mocimboa da Praia, for quite some time.10 And we’re trying to avoid also the risk associated with the increasing tendency of involving private military contractors [PMC] for obvious reasons. First, as the A.U., we look at this question from the point of view of the 1977 Convention Against Mercenaries. Second, we are concerned about the human rights violations and the absence of accountability of these PMC companies vis-à-vis any mistakes or bad handling they would make. Third, the evolving PMC presence I personally think is quite risky because it discredits the perception of citizens of their government’s capacity to protect them, since you are, basically, requiring a private company or a foreign power to come and handle the situation, which is quite counterproductive and could feed into the cycle of militant recruitment. It also gives the impression that the terrorist groups are much stronger than government, since the government has to seek external help to overcome a small group of thugs with AK-47s, for instance. So the involvement of PMCs and any foreign military power, as far as I am concerned, is quite sensitive, and it has many more downsides than upsides.

CTC: Are there any issues that you see governments, analysts, and observers from outside the region misinterpreting about the violent extremist landscape on the African continent?

Lallali: There are many indeed, which unfortunately may if not presented accurately misinform and influence wrongly decisions. The first, I would say, is this growing attempt to link intercommunal violence to terrorism and this tendency of considering intercommunal fighting as part of CT. While there is a very high degree of probability that terrorist groups will try to exploit such conflicts to their advantage, the two are not linked. Intercommunal violence/conflicts are rooted in history—shepherds and herdsmen fighting over land and access to water. As we struggle to come to terms with global warming, such conflicts will certainly be on the increase. In this regard, we have to invest our energy in finding solutions to such violence before it escalates to ensure that they are not exploited by Daesh or al-Qa`ida. Again, terrorists will always exploit conflicts or any grievances the community might be experiencing or expressing.

The second issue is radicalization. Many countries in Africa are investing heavily in training imams, religious scholars, and so on, and I think many countries on the continent, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and the Sudan, are ready to share their expertise in terms of deradicalizing of former fighters, terrorist fighters, and so on. Having said that, the issue of radicalization in prisons, for instance, is not yet as big of a threat in Africa as it is in the West, since, in Africa, individuals are mainly joining terrorist groups for other reasons than ideology. Radicalization comes usually after the enrollment into the group. Efforts should be focused more to prevent our populations from becoming captivated by the recruitment efforts of the terrorist groups.

The third issue that I think gets overblown is the worry about foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) coming from Syria and Iraq to the continent. Although there were numerous reports about the presence of thousands of these on the continent, we haven’t seen this in serious form yet. What is, however, worth noting is that from an African perspective, FTFs are not a new phenomenon on the continent. A great number of terrorist groups in Africa had within them foreign elements or were supported and/or financed by individuals or entities from abroad, if we consider the U.N. definition of FTF.

I also think we need to be careful with keywords like “radicalization” and “violent extremism,” countering/combating/preventing violent extremism, etc. This is creating more confusion among member states. They don’t know anymore what their obligations and what their priorities are. Do we apply the same resolutions and international instruments on violent extremism that we apply on terrorism? What should the national/regional CT strategy include? What mechanisms are required to be established, what should be included in the law?

Getting clarity on the use of these terms will be a serious challenge that we have to collectively deal with, because a lack of understanding of these terms could be the barrier to effective and efficient CT management, collaboration, and cooperation. Take the example of intelligence sharing, for instance. We have a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions, include the landmark 1373 (2001) resolution, that sets obligations on member states to share terrorism-related information. In the absence of clarity of terms such as violent extremism, the resolution might not apply if groups are simply labeled “violent extremists.”

CTC: We’ve covered a lot of ground. Are there any points you would like to make in closing?

Lallali: Last year, I was fortunate enough to do three important briefings—namely to NATO, the Daesh Coalition, and the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel—related to the question, “How can the U.S./international community assist?” I found myself coming back again and again to the same issues when trying to answer this question. The first is that our partners need to listen more to African countries’ needs, not try to impose on them their own approach or own assistance that they think they need. You have to engage the countries, to tell you exactly what their weaknesses are and what their specific need is. They are better positioned to tell you and express that clearly. There is a need to listen more to countries, to view the threat from their point of view and local context, and try to assist within the framework of their national counterterrorism plan of action. That would be quite useful.

Second, there is a need to avoid creating new initiatives or security arrangements instead of improving existing ones. It’s not because an initiative doesn’t work that we have to create new ones. We have to understand why these haven’t worked and how they can be assisted to fulfill the intended mission, because a lot of money and a lot of man-hours have been invested in them, and in addition, a lot of lessons learned can be drawn from them—even if there are failures. One then has to assess and evaluate what went wrong and how one can improve the existing initiatives.

Third, we need improved command and control. In terms of CT arrangements, in particular military arrangements, if we take the example of the Sahel countries and what’s happening in the Sahel, we have G5-Sahel, there is the French led-Operation Barkhane, the U.N., and now there is the deployment of the European Special Operation Forces Task Force Takuba.11 However, there is no unified command and control. A lot of resources are wasted but not much development is felt on the ground. We still are seeing a geographic expansion of the terror threat. It is quite clear that all this military intervention did not really contain or eliminate the threat. On the contrary, the threat has even spread beyond the G5-Sahel countries, requiring us to look at this beyond the G5-Sahel countries and to start looking at it from the broader perspective of the West Africa region.

Fourth, I think there is also space for dialogue and negotiation with certain groups. Why is dialogue important? Because you want to weed out the local terrorist from the foreign elements; you want to also give an opportunity to those terrorists that were forcibly recruited into the ranks to surrender. Because negotiations could be beneficial, it is counterproductive when you have some partners coming out and saying, “there will be no negotiation.” This disregards the sovereignty of states. Our partners have to understand that African states are independent and sovereign. Their decisions that concern their national stability, security, national unity, and territorial integrity have to be respected. Our member states are in better positions to know exactly what works best for them. Our partners should ‘try us out’ more and listen to us more. I think that would avoid many of the missteps and problems. Having said that, I have to express our appreciation to all our partners that continue supporting our continental organization and member states, including the U.S., and hope that this support continues, as overcoming terrorism and violent extremism will only be achieved if we collectively work together in the fight against all forms of the threat. Continued cooperation and more comprehensive approaches that address the underlying drivers of terrorism and violent extremism are necessary to prevent the spread of terrorist activity in Africa.

For its part, the African Union Commission, through its relevant specialized entities, spearheaded by the ACSRT, will continue to work with member states, partners, and the international community in order to galvanize support, provide direction, facilitate assistance, and enhance cooperation—all of which are conditions for success against the scourges of terrorism and violent extremism. Ensuring a secure and stable environment free from violent conflict and threats to peace and development is a key objective of the African Union. Winning the challenge posed to peace and security is therefore a question of survival for the continent. Overcoming terrorism will only be achieved if we collectively work together in the fight against all forms and manifestations of the threat.     CTC

Substantive Notes
[a] Editor’s note: ACSRT is also known by its French acronym CAERT (Centre Africain d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Terrorisme).

[b] Editor’s note: Idriss Mounir Lallali added that “in this respect, it was noted that the Convention did not provide for an implementation mechanism and adequate measures for the suppression of terrorist financing. The provisions on human rights protection were also deemed to be insufficient, and the risks of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction were not adequately addressed.”

[c] Editor’s note: Regional mechanisms are ad hoc intergovernmental organizations that the African Union has set up to help coordinate security among member states within regions that do not have organizations that would represent them otherwise.

[d] Editor’s note: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a regional economic community consisting of 16 member states stretching southwards from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

[e] Editor’s note: Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (colloquially known as “Boko Haram”) leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015 to form the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). By the following year, Shekau had been expelled from ISWAP. His faction is again referred to as Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad. Jason Warner, Ryan O’Farrell, Heni Nsaibia, and Ryan Cummings, “Outlasting the Caliphate: The Evolution of the Islamic State Threat,” CTC Sentinel 13:11 (2020).

[f] Editor’s note: GSPC, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, was an offshoot of GIA (the Armed Islamic Group). Several years after aligning itself with al-Qa`ida, it rebranded itself al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2007. For more, see Lianne Kennedy Boudali, The GSPC: Newest Franchise in al-Qaida’s Global Jihad (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2007) and Jonathan Schanzer, “Algeria’s GSPC and America’s ‘War on Terror,’” Washington Institute, October 2, 2002.

[g] Editor’s note: One of “ISCAP’s two wings is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist rebel group that originated in Uganda in the early 1990s. Following a failed rebellion in western Uganda in 1995, its members were forced to flee to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where they embedded themselves within local conflict dynamics as violence spiraled into two regional wars and enduring instability. A 2014 military offensive by the Congolese military severely degraded the group and forced its longtime leader, Jamil Mukulu, to flee to Tanzania, where he was later arrested and extradited back to Uganda. His successor, Musa Baluku, rebuilt much of the group’s strength in eastern DRC and embarked on a campaign of retaliatory massacres that killed almost 3,000 Congolese civilians between October 2014 and October 2019, while pivoting the ADF’s rhetoric and identity away from its focus on Uganda and toward that of the broader transnational jihadi movement.” Warner, O’Farrell, Nsaibia, and Cummings.

[1] Editor’s note: “OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, 1999,” adopted July 14, 1999, available at

[2] Editor’s note: “African Union High-Level Inter-Governmental Meeting on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Africa,” September 11-14, 2002, available at

[3] Editor’s note: “Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism,” African Union, available at

[4] Editor’s note: For more on the March 2021 attack on villages in Niger, see “Niger: Suspected jihadi attack kills ‘at least 137,’” DW, March 22, 2021.

[5] Editor’s note: For more on this attack, see Hannah Armstrong, “Behind the Jihadist Attack in Niger’s Inates,” International Crisis Group, December 13, 2019.

[6] Editor’s note: For more on this dynamic in the Sahel, see Jason Warner, Ellen Chapin, and Caleb Weiss, Desert Drift, Declining Deadliness: Understanding the Evolution of AQIM’s Suicide Bombings (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2020).

[7] Jason Warner, Ryan O’Farrell, Heni Nsaibia, and Ryan Cummings, “Outlasting the Caliphate: The Evolution of the Islamic State Threat,” CTC Sentinel 13:11 (2020).

[8] Editor’s note: For a broader discussion on Boko Haram and al-Qa`ida relations, see Andrea Brigaglia, “‘Slicing Off the Tumour’: The History of Global Jihad in Nigeria, as Narrated by the Islamic State,” Center for Study of Religion and Religious Tolerance, 2018.

[9] Editor’s note: For more on the Palma attack, see Tim Lister, “The March 2021 Palma Attack and the Evolving Jihadi Terror Threat to Mozambique,” CTC Sentinel 14:4 (2021).

[10] Editor’s note: “Mocimboa da Praia: Key Mozambique port ‘seized by IS,’” BBC, August 12, 2020.

[11] Editor’s note: For more on Task Force Takuba, see Florent Comte Palassoe, “Counter-terrorism in the Sahel: Can Task Force Takuba be a Game Changer for France,” Global Risk Insights, January 30, 2021.

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