News / Africa

Terrorists Exploited Unrest in Africa in 2012 says US Report

A girl walks past a wall with graffiti about the al-Qaida network in a Muslim area of the northern city of Kano, Nigeria. (File).
A girl walks past a wall with graffiti about the al-Qaida network in a Muslim area of the northern city of Kano, Nigeria. (File).
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
The United States said progress has been made in combating terrorism across Africa, but that militant groups are still taking advantage of unrest, political instability, and weak governance in several areas of the continent.

In an annual report to the U.S. Congress, the State Department said Thursday that counterterrorism efforts by U.S., European, and regional forces have "done much to roll back and contain the threat" of terrorism in Africa over the past year.

But it said a series of revolutions, ethnic rebellions and military coups in the region have "complicated the terrorism picture" and presented militant groups with new opportunities to operate in the region.

In Libya, it said terrorists were able to exploit the security vacuum, weak governance, and abundance of weapons left in the wake of the country's 2011 revolution, which overthrew longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. One of the most notable terrorist attacks in Libya came in September, when the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed during an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

The report noted that Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Islamist group with expanding capabilities, took advantage of regional instability, stepping up its profitable kidnapping for ransom operations and other attacks in the Trans-Sahara region.

It said that AQIM, as well as extremist mercenaries returning from Libya, also profited from a military coup and separate rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs in Mali to overtake much of the northern part of that country. That Islamist insurgency was later quelled by a French-led military force, which was praised by the State Department report for quickly dealing with the threat.

In West Africa, the report said the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram was carrying out a rising number of increasingly sophisticated attacks. While most of the group's attacks have occurred in northern Nigeria, the report said there is evidence that Boko Haram may be "developing financial and training links with transnational violent extremists."

Somali insurgent group al-Shabab remains the State Department's "primary terrorist threat" in East Africa. The report said al-Shabab continues to carry out attacks in Somalia, and claims credit for some attacks in neighboring Kenya.

African Union and Somali forces, the State Department noted, have had some success in taking out al-Shabab strongholds in major cities in southern Somalia. It said the insurgent group has now been "fragmented by dissension and much weakened."

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid