Editor’s Note: CSP Senior Analyst and Director for State Outreach, Christopher Holton, was interviewed by Fox News for this article
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Africa has been beset by jihadi violence, and it is something the U.S. will need to pay close attention to, observers warn.
On Sunday, a U.S. airstrike killed two al-Shabab terrorists in response to an attack carried out against U.S. partner forces in Somalia.
“The Islamic Jihad in Africa is real,” claims Jasmine Opperman, South Africa based security consultant specializing in extremism and political violence, who believes Africa has taken over from the Middle East as the jihadis main area of operations.
“It definitely is the case”, Opperman told Fox News Digital. “If one looks at the history of Africa, I’m going into Mali and the West Africa region, Somalia, the East Africa region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique, we are seeing that al-Qaeda has always had an entrenched presence in Africa. We are seeing an environment conducive for these international terror groups to find themselves, embed themselves and take the lead in extremist activities in all of these regions.”
However, a platoon of the Nigerian army “with sophisticated weapons” were no match when an Islamist jihadi movement decided to spring over 60 terrorists jailed there. The jihadis came to the jail located in the nation’s capital, Abuja, in three waves, attacking the facility for over two hours with over 300 militants, some firing rocket propelled grenades, one unit dedicated to blowing open the prison’s walls and another group taking up defensive positions in surrounding streets to prevent the army from sending in reinforcements.
Christopher Holton, director of the State Outreach Center for Security Policy, told Fox News Digital that the U.S. needs to pay close attention to what is happening in Africa.
“Historically, when jihadists are allowed a safe haven, they simply use it as a base of operations to spread jihad elsewhere. The example of al-Qaeda launching the September 11 attacks from Afghanistan and the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings from Sudan are instructive.”
Holton concluded that, “Two of the most deadly jihadist groups in the world operate exclusively in Africa: Boko Haram and al-Shabab.”