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.
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.”