From the Editor

This issue focuses on Africa, the current epicenter of global jihadi terror. On January 18, 2023, the military junta in Burkina Faso demanded that France withdraw its troops from the country within a month, raising concerns the regime in Ouagadougou may be set to follow Mali in hiring the Wagner Group to help contain the worsening jihadi threat to their country. In the feature article, Héni Nsaibia and Caleb Weiss write that “there seems to be a very significant probability that the military government in Burkina Faso will indeed hire Wagner in the near future.” They assess that a future potential Wagner deployment to Burkina Faso would entrench Russian influence in the region, complicate Western policy in West Africa, and “likely result in a further upsurge in jihadi violence in Burkina Faso given the fact that jihadi attacks, perpetrated by both JNIM and the Islamic State, have increased dramatically across Mali since Wagner’s deployment there just over a year ago.”

In our interview, Brigadier General Rose Keravuori, the Deputy Director of Intelligence at the United States Africa Command, observes that “for al-Qa`ida and ISIS, the most operationally active and financially lucrative affiliates are on the African continent.” She warns that Islamic State groups are looking to grow in southern and central Africa and that in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, the al-Qa`ida affiliate JNIM “has grown exponentially, so much so that the littoral countries of Ghana, Togo, and Benin view it as an existential threat.”

Stig Jarle Hansen writes that “there are reasons to be optimistic that the current Somali offensive against al-Shabaab could enduringly weaken the group. The operations have gained momentum and demonstrated that the Somali army has made large improvements over the last decade. The use of local clan militias as well as U.S. and Turkish drone support have acted as force multipliers, and the Somali government is finally making a concerted effort to go after al-Shabaab’s income generation.” He argues that “what will be key is to erode al-Shabaab’s ability to infiltrate government-controlled areas and to govern, tax, and implement ‘justice’ in these areas. In the past, this has been crucial to al-Shabaab resilience and income. Accordingly, there needs to be more focus on a ‘clear and hold’ strategy rather than just ‘search and destroy.’”

Paul Cruickshank, Editor in Chief

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive updates from CTC.

Sign up