ISIS, Al-Qaeda seek infiltration into Southern Nigeria, US Intelligence warns

ISIS, Al-Qaeda seek infiltration into Southern Nigeria, US Intelligence warns

The United States on Wednesday, August 5, warned that ISIS and al-Qaeda are penetrating Northwest and looking to expand further south into the coastal areas of Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Commander of US Special Operations Command Africa, Major General Davin Anderson, who raised the alarm; during a digital briefing on US efforts to combat terrorism in Africa during COVID-19.

While responding to a question on US-Nigeria partnership in combating terrorism, Anderson said; “we have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent ISIS and Al-Qaeda extremists are doing; and that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno State and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing ISIS and al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in.”

He further noted that intelligence sharing is absolutely vital.

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According to him, the US is “fully engaged with the Government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing; what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing; and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.”

He said it was quite disturbing that despite all this assistance; the violent extremist organisations (VEOs) were continuing to make progress and continue to be a threat.

“I think there are two factors in that. One, it goes to that each government has to focus on this; and provide that focus for international partners to engage with. The other partner – the other part of this is we can’t underestimate the threat these violent extremist organizations pose.

“We, as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them; or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.

“I think after 20 years we have seen they are very resilient organizations that, although small; they’re able to leverage social media and other forms of media to have an outsized voice; and that they continue to recruit; and they continue to find opportunities,” Anderson said.

Calling on all US partners not to underestimate the threat or underestimate what these VEOs are capable of doing; Anderson said “they are very patient and that they are willing to look for opportunities as they emerge. So you can’t just say ‘we’ve defeated them;’ you have to continue to address weaknesses and places where these terrorist groups can – that they can exploit.”

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