An Islamic State affiliate operating under the radar in western Africa now poses a more significant threat to the region than the notorious Boko Haram terrorist group, U.S. military officials say.
The Islamic State West Africa, made up of former Boko Haram fighters, broke away from its parent group about 2016 after internal power struggles. The group, which maintains loose ties to the core ISIS leadership in Syria and Iraq, has taken on more sophisticated battlefield tactics than Boko Haram and is making inroads among local populations, U.S. Africa Command officials said.
“Our greater concern now is the splinter group,” Col. Stephen Wertz, who manages AFRICOM efforts in western Africa, said on Friday. “We see them as a longer term strategic threat.”
Since AFRICOM was launched a decade ago, the range of threats across the continent has increased in places like Libya and the countries in the Lake Chad Basin area.