Jihadism in Africa South of the Equator: Local or Global Conflict?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-17-26
A. Yashlavskii (dosier@mail.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of activities of extremist Islamist groups operating in sub-Sahel African countries. The propaganda of the ISIS terrorist network makes statements about penetration of this transnational group into African countries south of the equator and creation of the so-called Islamic States’ “Central African province”. This phenomenon is linked to the activities of Islamist militant groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Mozambique (“Allied Democratic Forces” (ADF) and “Al-Sunna wa Jamaa” (ASWJ), respectively). The activity of Islamist groups in these African countries not only poses serious challenges to national, regional and international security, but also raises questions regarding the existence of a connection between supporters of the “global jihad” and local extremist groups with a more limited agenda. In the article, the author explores the features of emergence and activities of rebel groups using Islamic ideology and rhetoric. The activation of radical Islamists in Africa south of the equator is of great concern to South Africa. Despite the fact that while there is no immediate threat of jihadists entering the South Africa, there are well-founded fears that sooner or later this country will somehow have to face the challenges posed by extremists’ attempts to nestle in the southern part of the African continent. The article analyzes the level of ties and relationship between these African local groups under the banner of religious extremism and transnational networks of the “global jihad”, as well as threats posed by the alliance of these forces both to individual African states and the whole region. As a result of the study, the author came to a conclusion that, although many of internal conflicts and armed groups in individual African countries are indeed local-level and localized, a closer look demonstrates the increasing degree of cross-pollination in ideology, tactics and financing, due to the high level of mobility in the region as a whole, and not just in neighboring countries. Regardless of the degree of interaction between extremist groups operating in sub-Sahel Africa and transnational jihadist networks, the activities of such actors as ADF or “Al-Sunna wa Jamaa” themselves pose a serious danger to African countries and entire regions by creating zones of instability, armed conflicts, bringing death and destruction.

Keywords: terrorism, Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, IS, extremism, Islamism, “jihadism”, “Alliance of Democratic Forces”, ADF, “Ansar al-Sunnah”


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For citation:
Yashlavskii A. Jihadism in Africa South of the Equator: Local or Global Conflict?. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 8, pp. 17-26. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-17-26

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