Global Alert priority: MEDIUM
HUMINT from inside The Al Qaeda Network
|Africa a Key Continent for The Al Qaeda Terror Network|
|10 November 2009|
The continent of Africa has recently been a focus of several foreign affairs policies of Global and regional superpowers like the USA, China and India. The recent Obama administration has pledged to invest more in the socio- economic development of Africa as well as in its capacity building, education & healthcare ecosystems. This recent change of strategy is also inspired by China’s economic investment focus on Africa as well as India’s ICT outsourcing projects toward African countries and regions. Africa’s enormous natural resources (Oil & Minerals) as well as its growing population need to be recognized as a triggering factor for any (economic) Superpower. Nigeria is one of the largest oil reservoirs. Its problem is oil extraction. Where formerly shell and BP invested in oil fields, China has become a large investor in oil exploration. The Financial crisis is decreasing the financial power of the other players like Shell and BP.
Despite armed conflict Sudan remains popular with china, being ‘Green Fields’ and still unspoilt. Generally china is very active on the African markets.
However, it is an undeniable fact that the fear of growing Muslim extremism as well as the USA’s and UN’s ongoing efforts of containment policy of Muslim Extremism has been one of the most important pillars on which the “Focus on Africa” Policy of the USA, UN and other NGO’s has been built on.
Poverty, bad living conditions and a lack of proper education are traditionally eco systems in which religious extremism is a fast growing element.
Although not often recognized, Africa is a key continent for The Al Qaida terror network. In the past we have observed several terror attacks in African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Kenya and Egypt) as well as religious related and inspired conflicts (Sudan/Darfur and Somalia). The CIA and other European Intelligence Agencies have mentioned Africa as a large center of “recruitment” for the Al Qaida terror network. Terror acts toward the west are increasingly planned from Africa.
Small numbers of Arab fighters move in to Africa from Arabic countries where a more strict and effective anti terrorism policy reigns. Africa doesn’t have effective anti terrorism policies, because of its defective infrastructure and the prevailing armed conflicts combined with the economic malaise. Also an increasing number of old warriors from the Balkan and Chechnya are observed in training centres to create small terror cells.
Training centres can be found in the regions: morocco (Sahara), Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, the horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia) and Kenya.
Al Qaida’s “mission statement”, to establish an Islamic caliphate reaching from Morocco to Afghanistan, crosses a large part of the African continent.
Any obstacle that the Al Qaida network faces in its effort to achieve its mission statement, the Al Qaida terror network identifies as a threat. Several African regimes have been chosen as a prime target for the Al Qaida network. Vulnerable countries are: Egypt (Suez channel and tourism), Morocco (due to the current regime), Algeria (foreign investors in gas), Tunis, South Africa and further all western (predominantly USA) embassies, UN aid organizations and NGO’s.
One of the major “playing fields” for the Al Qaida network is Egypt, one of Africa’s and Arab’s most important and influential countries. While President Mubarak’s ruling era is coming towards an end, the political en social unrest is growing, especially now that are indications that the Egyptian ruling government and NDP (National democratic Party) are preparing a (smooth) transition of power towards Mr. Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, who is to be considered as one of the most loyal Arab/African presidents to the USA administration.
The above mentioned political and economic situation as well as the leading role that Egypt plays in the region has recently increased the focus of the Al Qaida network onEgypt.
The Egyptian Administration has been involved in decades of fierce battles with Muslim extremism. The Gamaat Islamiya as well as the Muslim Brotherhood movement can be considered as not only Egyptian, but globally leading Islamic terror networks. Their operations expand outsideEgyptand they have “operations” in almost every Muslim nation on the globe.
Al Qaida’s second man and thought leader, Ayman Al Zawahiri, an Egyptian national related to the Muslim brotherhood, has repeatedly mentioned Egypt and the all UN NGO’s in Egypt and Africa as a legitimate target for terror operations.
The Somali conflict expands like an oil stain. Not only is it a hotbed for extremism but other countries experience economic pressure. Lower revenues from the Suez channel have effect on the economic and political stability of Egypt, consequently on the entire region. The problems in Yemen are an equally worrying situation for the Arabic peninsula (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States). Although a major problem, it is easier to contain due the fact that surrounding countries are stable and 'wealthy' unlike the surrounding countries of Somalia. Also presence of American troops and fleet in the Yemeni region helps contain the threats in Yemen.Tweet
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