News / Africa

    Africa Terrorism Threat Remains

    Anne Look
    2013 appears to have been the year the world woke up to African terrorism.  Military gains against Islamist extremists in places like Mali and Somalia were followed by major terrorist attacks in neighboring countries - highlighting how complex and persistent the threat really remains.

    The year opened with a French military intervention in Mali.  Al-Qaida-linked fighters in control of the north were pushing south.

    Malian troops could not have held them back alone.  But even as French and African troops liberated the north, jihadist fighters launched a revenge attack on a natural gas facility in Ain Amenas, Algeria, taking hundreds hostage and ultimately killing at least 36 foreigners.

    Somalia looked to be turning a corner at the start of 2013.  Kenyan and African Union troops had chased the militant group al-Shabab from key urban strongholds.

    But in September, a small number of al-Shabab militants attacked an upscale Nairobi shopping mall, killing more than 60 people and laying bare failings by Kenyan security and intelligence agencies.

    The world watched as hundreds escaped.

    Nigeria says it is turning the tide against the homegrown radical insurgency, Boko Haram, that it has wrestled with since 2009.

    In May, Nigeria began an offensive against the sect.  The United Nations says the ongoing offensive has killed more than 1,200 people.  But Boko Haram continues to attack.

    An all-too-familiar pattern is playing out in Africa.  Islamist insurgents seize territory where they can. They set up safe havens. They may even try to govern.  But faced with military action, they abandon their urban fiefdoms and disperse.  Some are killed.  Others live to strike back, joined by more young recruits.

    Senegalese researcher Bakary Sambe says military intervention, in particular by Western forces, feeds radicalization.

    "It's absurd to say you can make war on terrorism which by nature is constantly regenerating and evolving.  We also need to fight the causes of radicalization: poverty, a sense of frustration and rejection by the state, and under-development," said Sambe.
    Analysts say al-Shabab remains the most organized and far-reaching of the African al-Qaida affiliates and that the publicity it got from the Westgate Mall attack revitalized the al-Shabab brand, helping it recruit internationally.

    A Horn of Africa expert in Nairobi, Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamed, says the international community must keep up the pressure.

    "They [al-Shabab]  have an agenda beyond Somalia.  They have an agenda beyond the region.  They are going to Islamize the whole world….by force, not by preaching, by force," said Abdisamed.

    The United States and the European Union are keeping a close eye on these threats.  But with the exception of France, which continues to battle militants in Mali, Western powers say that in the year ahead, they will continue with the more hands-off approach of financing, assisting and training African troops to contain violent extremism.

    Gabe Joselow contributed, reporting from Nairobi

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora