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Security Brief: AFRICOM Week of October 4, 2021

Week of Monday, October 4, 2021 | Issue 43

Zach Pittman, Deepika Uppala, Leslie Acebo, Adrine Monagi, Clara de Solages, Faye Lax, Francesca Fiore, Ashliyn Burgos, AFRICOM Team


Nigerian Army Against Boko Haram[1]


Date: October 5, 2021

Location: Borno State, Nigeria

Parties involved: Boko Haram; Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)

The event: On October 5, ISWAP carried out a retaliatory attack against a Boko Haram camp on Lake Chad.[2] This attack comes as a response to Boko Haram’s attack against ISWAP fighters in Mandra on October 3.[3] 87 Boko Haram fighters have been killed.[4]

The implications:

  • It is very likely that violence between Boko Haram and ISWAP will escalate. The risk of escalation will likely result in violent spillovers to the civilian population. The increasing violence could likely lead to civilian deaths, both as casualties and as designated targets. The armed groups will likely decide to attack civilians supporting one of the opposing terror groups.

  • Counterterrorism efforts will likely be harder to organize considering the wide span of both groups' attacks against each other and potential attacks towards civilian targets. If these attacks are not countered, both parties will almost certainly continue attacking each other until the other falls or until they reach a stalemate.

Date: October 5, 2021

Location: Mozambique

Parties involved: South African military; Southern African Development Community (SADC); Rwandan military; Al-Shabab; United Nations (UN); United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

The event: At a summit on October 5, the SADC agreed to extend the deployment of their military in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique to fight the Islamic State insurgency. No timeframe was given for the extension of the operation and details on changes in troop strength were not specified.[5] Though the situation in Mozambique appears to be stabilized following reports of the death of a jihadist leader last week, Al-Shabab continues to kidnap and indoctrinate children to carry out attacks.[6] UN officials have warned of the escalating humanitarian crisis as over 800,000 people are internally displaced, placing women and children at risk of kidnapping and indoctrination. Humanitarian organizations have been blocked off from crucial areas since the start of the conflict.[7]

The implications:

  • The operation’s extension signals that the SADC and Rwandan forces in Mozambique do not consider the insurgency to be over, despite the recent progress. This is very likely due to the adaptability and resilience of the insurgents, which will almost certainly require more resources and intelligence cooperation between the SADC, Mozambique, and Rwandan forces.

  • The presence of foreign troops will likely aggravate the existing concerns surrounding a lack of food and water resources, and further increase discontent among the populations, which may fuel domestic conflict between various communities.

  • The ongoing conflict has almost certainly made women and children more vulnerable to kidnapping due to the operational ease of Al-Shabab in the area. These kidnappings, while continuing to psychologically and economically affect local communities, will also likely lead to an increase in child soldiers. This will almost certainly destabilize the region and render the counterinsurgency by Rwandan and SADC forces more difficult.

Date: October 8, 2021

Location: Mali

Parties involved: France; Malian Government; Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga

The event: The Malian government has relied on the French military for training and manpower to combat insurgency within the country.[8] Prime Minister Maiga has accused France of using his country’s territory to train terrorist groups from Libya.[9] According to the Malian administration, French troops established an enclave in Kidal and handed it over to the Ansar al-Din terrorist group.[10] Following the decision to withdraw troops, Mali accused France of abandonment, further deteriorating the relationship between the two countries.[11] Mali's government has begun outsourcing security to private Russian security organizations such as the Wagner Group to combat terrorism and replace French troops.[12]

The implications:

  • The withdrawal of French troops from Mali is very likely to result in increased activity of jihadist groups, which will likely overwhelm the Malian government’s response. As the Malian government has historically relied on the French military for resources and training for counterterrorism operations, the French withdrawal will likely leave Mali with little backing to continue these efforts.

  • Due to the significant role played by the French military in Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region, providing critical intelligence and logistical support to all other military operations, its withdrawal will very likely jeopardize the security situation in Mali while also hindering military operations and counterterrorism activities in the Sahel region.

  • Mali has enlisted the aid of the Wagner Group, which will almost certainly enhance Russia's influence in Africa. The Wagner Group will likely violate human rights and involve itself in local politics, similar to its activities in the Central African Republic. As a result, the Wagner Group is very likely to further destabilize Mali, which is already beset by terrorist organizations and mercenaries, by inciting more violence.

Specialty reports are designed to inform clients of existing and emerging threats worldwide. To defeat terrorists and individuals intent on harming, it is critical to understand and investigate them. We collect and analyze intelligence on terrorists and extremists, their organizations, individuals who are threats, and their tactics and attacks to develop solutions to detect, deter, and defeat any act of terrorism or violence against our client. We also conduct investigations to identify persons of interest, threats, and determine the likelihood of a threat and how to stop them. To find out more about our products and services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.


________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Nigerian Army Boko Haram” by Nicolas Pinault licensed under Public Domain

[2] Boko Haram: 87 ISWAP fighters killed in Borno, Daily Post, October 2021, https://dailypost.ng/2021/10/07/boko-haram-87-iswap-fighters-killed-in-borno/

[3] Nigeria: 24 Terrorists Killed in Nigeria as Boko Haram, Iswap Fight, All Africa, October 2021, https://allafrica.com/stories/202110050406.html

[4] ISWAP Launches Reprisal Attack in Boko Haram Camp, 87 Terrorists Feared Dead, Pr Nigeria, October 2021, https://prnigeria.com/2021/10/07/iswap-boko-haram-camp-feared/

[5] Southern African bloc extends troop deployment in Mozambique to fight insurgency, Reuters, October 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/southern-african-bloc-extends-troop-deployment-mozambique-fight-insurgency-2021-10-05/

[6] Southern Africa considers extending Mozambique military mission, Africa News, October 2021, https://www.africanews.com/2021/10/06/southern-africa-considers-extending-mozambique-military-mission/

[7] Ibid

[8] France Diplomacy, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, October 2021, https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/mali/

[9] The Prime Minister of Mali accuses France of training terrorist groups in his country, AsumeTech, October 2021, https://asumetech.com/the-prime-minister-of-mali-accuses-france-of-training-terrorist-groups-in-his-country/

[10] Mali accuses France of training ‘terrorists’ in country, Parstoday, October 2021, https://parstoday.com/en/news/world-i154648-mali_accuses_france_of_training_terrorists’_in_country

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid


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