UNITED STATES NEWS

Counter-terrorism experts say Africa is the world’s terrorism hot spot with half of 2022’s victims

Jun 20, 2023, 2:39 PM | Updated: 5:58 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Counter-terrorism experts said Tuesday that Africa is now the world’s terrorism hot spot, with half of the victims killed last year in sub-Saharan Africa, though al-Qaida and Islamic State affiliates remain widespread, persistent and active elsewhere around the globe.

Interpol, the international criminal police agency, also reported during a panel discussion at the U.N. that terrorism linked to extreme right-wing ideology increased an estimated 50-fold over the past decade, particularly in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific.

The experts see other trends: Deteriorating global security is making the terrorism threat “more complex and decentralized.” Extremists are increasingly using sophisticated technology, and drones and artificial intelligence have opened new ways to plan and carry out attacks.

The United Nations this week is hosting its third high-level conference of heads of counter-terrorism agencies. Tuesday’s panel on assessing current and emerging terrorist trends and threats brought together experts from the U.N., Interpol, Russia, the United States and Qatar, and Google’s senior manager for strategic intelligence.

The overall theme for the week is addressing terrorism through reinvigorated international cooperation. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during Monday’s opening session the key is to unite not only in foiling attacks but also critically to focus on preventing terrorism by tackling poverty, discrimination, poor infrastructure, gross human rights violations and other underlying drivers.

At Tuesday’s session, it was Africa that took the spotlight.

“Africa has emerged as the key battleground for terrorism, with a major increase in the number of active groups operating on the continent,” U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari said, noting that local political, economic and social “fractures,” porous borders and “identity-based mobilization” had fueled the emergence of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.

Several areas of the continent, from Burkina Faso and the Sahel and more broadly to Chad and Sudan, still face the consequences of the flow of weapons and foreign fighters from Libya, Khiari said.

Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. After the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate was defeated in Iraq in 2017, many of its foreign fighters fled to the North African nation.

Col. Gen. Igor Sirotkin, deputy director of Russia’s Federal Security Service and head of its National Anti-Terrorism Committee, told the meeting that West Africa, especially the Maghreb and the Sahel, “are becoming the epicenter of the Islamist terrorist threat, with the armed terrorist groups expanding their influence, and we see the danger of ISIS being reincarnated as an African caliphate.”

Qatar’s special envoy for counter-terrorism, Mutiaq Al-Qahtani, who said half the victims of terrorist acts last year were in sub-Saharan Africa, called for counter-terrorism efforts to focus on the continent.

Justin Hustwitt, the coordinator of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against the Islamic State and al-Qaida, said the situation in West Africa continues to deteriorate and IS “seems to be trying to position itself as a political actor.”

He said IS in the greater Sahara is taking advantage of the lack of counter-terrorism operations, especially in the tri-border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and there are “growing concerns” about IS and al-Qaida taking advantage of any opportunity in Congo.

Interpol’s counter-terrorism director, Gregory Hinds, said al-Qaida and IS-related groups continue to inspire and carry out attacks in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, North America, Europe “and now across Africa and Asia at alarming pace.”

Hinds said the 50-fold increase in terrorism linked to extreme right-wing ideology “is being influenced by global events and global agenda.”

Secretary-General Guterres also said “neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements are fast becoming the primary internal security threats in a number of countries.”

On the significant deterioration of global security in the last few years, the U.N.’s Khiari said the number of conflicts globally is on the rise again after two decades of consistent decline, and their nature has changed.

“Civil wars that start off locally are more likely to become internationalized, and conflict parties are increasingly fragmented,” he said. “Civil wars aggravate grievances and foment regional international instabilities creating a fertile ground for non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups, to proliferate.”

On a more positive note, Gregory LoGerfo, the U.S. State Department’s deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism, said IS has not only been defeated in Iraq and Syria but its leadership has been “taken out or captured,” large-scale attacks have been prevented, and billions have been invested in stabilizing the region.

“But for all of our progress, we’re not done yet,” he said.

The U.N.’s Hustwitt echoed that Daesh’s leadership has suffered serious attrition, adding that “the group’s resources are depleting, and they are very focused on revenue generation.”

Tobias Peyeri, Google’s senior manager for strategic intelligence who formerly worked for the U.N. Office of Counter-Terrorism, said the company bans content produced by or supporting designated terrorist organizations, and is committed to fighting “”the hatred and extremism that leads to terrorist violence.”

But he said bad actors, like extremist groups, “continue to become more savvy in evading detection,” citing as examples their use of coded communications, complex narratives and conspiracy theories, and their modifications of existing popular computer games.

To counter these efforts, he said Google relies on expertise in local markets, “advanced AI-driven visual matching technologies,” special detection technologies, and other measures.

Peyeri said artificial intelligence “is already helping the world with challenges from disease to climate change, “but if not developed and deployed responsibly, AI systems could amplify current societal issues such as misinformation, discrimination, and the misuse of tools by bad actors including terrorists.”

United States News

Associated Press

After rare flash flood emergency, Florida prepares for more heavy rainfall in coming days

A tropical disturbance has brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida as residents prepared to weather more heavy rainfall on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday’s downpours and subsequent flooding blocked roads, floated vehicles and delayed the Florida Panthers on their way to Stanley Cup games in Canada against the Edmonton Oilers. The […]

7 hours ago

Forgiving father's killer hard for 3 children of Jordan Rasmussen...

KSL Podcasts/Amy Donaldson

A family decides to forgive a killer, but will the next generation follow?

Michael Moore killed Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth in 1982. Forgiving their father's killer was hard for Rasmussen's three children.

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with gun taken into custody after standoff at FBI building in Seattle, authorities say

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman armed with a handgun was taken into custody after an hourlong standoff at the FBI building in Seattle on Wednesday, authorities said. The woman walked into a publicly accessible area where people have to wait to be buzzed into the lobby, according to FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd. She pointed the […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Content by

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman armed with a handgun was taken into custody after an hourlong standoff at the FBI building in Seattle on Wednesday, authorities said. The woman walked into a publicly accessible area where people have to wait to be buzzed into the lobby, according to FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd. She pointed the […]

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Counter-terrorism experts say Africa is the world’s terrorism hot spot with half of 2022’s victims