The activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have been overshadowed by the attention given to the Iranian nuclear program. However, for the last several decades the IRGC has been heavily involved in a highly coordinated campaign of covert operations that function not just in the Middle East but span the globe.
The Government of Iran uses the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and IRGC-QF to implement its foreign policy goals, including, but not limited to, seemingly legitimate activities that provide cover for intelligence operations and support to terrorist and insurgent groups. The IRGC-QF provides material, logistical assistance, training, and financial support to militants and terrorist operatives throughout the Middle East and South Asia. These activities include economic investment, reconstruction, and other types of aid to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon implemented by companies and institutions that act for, on behalf of, or are owned or controlled by the IRGC and the Iranian government.
Iran also uses the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force – and state-run social service organizations ─ to support terrorism under the guise of providing reconstruction and economic development assistance or social services. Iran's support for terrorism and terrorist organizations, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Taliban. Iran is the primary funder of Hizballah and has long been recognized as the most active state sponsor of terrorism (treasury.gov/tg810.aspx).
Two years after Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini established the “Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in the World,” led by Ayatollah Hussein Montazeri, who was entrusted with the role of creating a movement to establish radical Islamic states throughout the world based on the revolutionary template of Iran.28. With the cooperation of Syria, Iran established the Shaykh Abdallah Barracks of the Pasdaran, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, in the Baqa’a Valley to extend its influence over the Shi`i population of Lebanon. During the early 1980s, the Pasdaran committed as many as 2,000 of its Revolutionary Guards at its headquarters at Baalbek in southern Lebanon to assist in forming and training Hizballah.
According to its own official budget, during the mid-1990s Iran was reported to have devoted $500 million to supporting radical Islamic organizations that were sympathetic to its cause throughout the world. It was also reported to have established a network of terrorist cells that are “located in at least twenty states, including the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Pakistan.
More recently, Iran is reported to have organized Hizballah cells in Azerbaijani territory bordering on Iran. A council of fifteen inﬂuential Azerbaijani religious ﬁgures is said to organize the activities of the cells, whose responsibilities include forming “an army of God” to operate in Azerbaijan. One of the council members has also arranged for young Azerbaijanis to study at Iranian theological seminaries. In 2001, the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry arrested a group of individuals suspected of having contact with Hizballah in Calilabad. Through the IRGC and its subsidiary Hizballah Iran has extended its terror connections beyond the Middle East and the Islamic world.
In an effort to gain allies in its war against the West, during the early 1980s, the Iranian government and Hizballah made an effort to provide ﬁnancial assistance to Sinn Fein, the political section of the Irish Republican Army. Hadi Ghaffari, the president of Hizballah and the Iranian minister tasked with cooperating with the Hizballah movement in Lebanon,93 began to travel to Belfast, Ireland, in order to initiate contacts between his government and the Irish Republican Army. On one occasion, Ghaffari hosted members of Sinn Fein at a luncheon. To demonstrate his support for the IRA, Ghaffari told a 1980 rally in Tehran, “We are ready to blow up British factories and ships.”
In June 1982, IRA leaders secretly ﬂew to Tehran to attend the Conference of World Movements, an international conference of leading figures of international terrorist organizations including Hizballah, the Abu Nidal organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command, the Japanese Red Army, and ETA, the Basque separatist organization. At Fayruzi Palace in Tehran, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Muhsin Reza’i, met the leaders of the organizations.
The agenda of the conference was a plan by Iran to fund and arm a new “terrorist international” in exchange for the organizations’ making a commitment to launch attacks against Western targets in Europe to make them pay a price for supporting U.S. policies in the Middle East. In return, the Iranians sent an ofﬁcial delegation to Sinn Fein’s annual conference in Dublin (web.archive.org/ ). The IRGC’s activities are not operated entirely through proxies.
In 2016 it was noted that more than 300 members and officials of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran were assassinated outside of Iran by Iran's special Intelligence teams within a few years after the Iran -Iraq war ended. Two leaders of the Kurdish Democratic Party, Dr. Abdol Rahman Ghassemlou and Sadegh Sharafkandi, along with other members and officials of the party, were killed by the Iranian regime in Austria and Germany.
Although Iran later pledged to the European Union it would stop the assassinations of Iranian dissidents in Europe, the news agency notes that history has shown that in order to achieve its goals, the Islamic Republic often does not abide by its international obligations (clarionproject.org/).
On 2 October 2018, France accused Iran of plotting a terrorist attack on its soil. The alleged attempt was to bomb a People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK) rally in Paris – an organization comprised of Iranian opposition with a four-decade-long history of armed struggle and attacks within Iran. An Iranian-Belgian couple carrying an explosive device and materials was arrested in Belgium, followed by arrests of a number of Iranians in France and Germany – including an Iranian diplomat.
On 31 October 2018, Denmark accused Tehran of plotting an assassination against an opposition leader on its soil. Denmark’s intelligence service said the agency believed that Iran “was planning an attack in Denmark” against three activists – members of the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz (ASMLA) (fanack.com/).
In January of 2019 Iran was accused by the Dutch government of directing two political assassinations in the Netherlands. The two murders are alleged to have taken place in broad daylight in 2015 in Almere, a city east of Amsterdam, and in 2017 on a street close to the Dutch foreign ministry in The Hague (theguardian.comiran-behind-two-assassinations-in-netherlands-minister).
In May 2019 U.S officials accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates in what could be a foreshadowing of the conclusion of ongoing investigations into the incident (gulfnews.com/iran-directly-behind-tanker-attacks-off-uae-coast-us-says-1.64179304). Since the beginning of the Iraq insurgency, the activities of Iran have been widely known in regard to its support of Shia militias.
In the aftermath of the Iraq war and the fall of Saddam, Iran feared an easy victory so close to their borders. If Iraq became a stable democracy, it would leave the remaining American forces in the country available to divert their resources towards Iran. In an effort to curtail this, Iran conceived the idea that destabilizing Iraq with a strategy of supporting a vast insurgency movement and force the U.S. to direct its resources to combat it. The IRGC imported many weapons and trained numerous insurgents in the use of more sophisticated explosives and traps, particularly explosively formed penetrator (EFPs), that was shipped into Iraq by Iranian intelligence (O’hern, 2008). However, Iran’s insurgency strategy has been far more intricate than simply supporting Shia militias.
In his writings, noted strategic analyst H. John Poole asserts that some of the early Sunni insurgency was actually orchestrated by the IRGC. When discussing noted Sunni terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one-time Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan accused him of cooperating with Iran. The assumption was that either al-Qaeda and Iranian intelligence were coordinating battlefield operations in Iraq or, far from being the head of an al-Qaeda faction in Iraq, Zarqawi was in actuality an Iranian operative.
In late 2004 there was evidence that Iran had been contributing fighters to the Fallujah violence. Brig. Sarkout Hassan Jalal, Sulaimanyah security director, noted that insurgents were being smuggled into Iraq from Iran and then driven to Fallujah. In addition, evidence suggested there were numerous recruits pouring into Fallujah from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. It’s been proven that Hezbollah played a bigger role in the insurgency of Fallujah than did al-Qaeda.
During this time a series of high-profile assassinations were carried out against Sunni leaders which served to further alienate the Sunni community from the greater political system and cause them to boycott upcoming elections. These assassinations were likely the work of Shiite militants and possibly directed by IRGC (Poole, 2005). The IRGC mission has played a bigger role in other global conflicts.
Iran was the main arms supplier to the Bosnian Muslim military forces during the 1992-1995 civil war, in violation of the United Nations arms embargo. Iran supplied two-thirds of the total weapons and ammunition received by the Bosnian Muslim forces during the 1992-95 civil war. From May 1994 to January 1996, Iran transported over 5,000 tons of weapons and military equipment to Bosnia.
Iran sent to Bosnia members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Pasdaran, 2,000 by 1995, Â who supervised the illegal arms shipments and who were incorporated into the Bosnian Muslim Army of Alija Izetbegovic, who made official state visits to Tehran in 1992 and 1993 to secure Iranian arms shipments and military and diplomatic support.
The Iranian Intelligence Agency (VEVAK) established branches and infrastructure in Bosnia. VEVAK had established links to Alija Izetbegovic’s radical, militant, and ultra-nationalist Islamic SDA party before the civil war started in 1992. Once the war started, VEVAK strengthened and expanded its ties to the Bosnian Muslim political leadership and the Bosnian Muslim secret police apparatus. Mohammed Taherian, Â, a top Iranian intelligence agent who had armed the Taliban and was suspected of arming Shiite guerrillas, was sent to Sarajevo as the Iranian Ambassador to Bosnia. Taherian had been the former Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan. This ultimately worked to make Iran stronger and which increased Iranian influence in Europe (serbianna.com/56).
Iran has had a presence in Latin America for decades. However, its role in the region expanded and intensified after Hugo Chavez took the reins of the Venezuelan state in 1999. As such, the alliance between Venezuela and Iran has strong foundations. Hezbollah, the Iranian backed paramilitary, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have also established a presence in the region, training “soldiers of the revolution” in Venezuelan camps, and even helping to design and build the ALBA school, a military training camp in Bolivia. The school’s main purpose is to ideologically indoctrinate soldiers and strengthen the bonds between the armed forces and the new Latin American revolutions. The revolution promoted a civic-military alliance, a situation that has enabled the regime to survive. Venezuela’s own Vice President, Tarek Al Aissami, has been a key liaison between Venezuela and Iran.
Currently, Iran has a presence in 12 countries in the region including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Uruguay. Iran has sought to increase political alliances in the region for which Venezuela and its allies provided a great opportunity. It also sought a strategic position in the region to increase deterring capabilities against the U.S. Additionally, Iran has aspired to reach out to the Muslim community in Latin America.
Indeed, Iran has established a number of networks in the region with mosques and even a TV channel (HispanTV) in Spanish. (HispanTV has given wide coverage to groups that promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories). Iran also sought to use Latin American countries, particularly Venezuelan banks, to curb the effect of international sanctions. Venezuela issued passports to Iranians and Hezbollah members to facilitate their free travel around the region and the world. Likewise, several Caribbean countries that allied with Chavez established dangerous liaisons with Iran.
Guyana signed an agreement with Iran in which Iran would map Guyana’s mineral resources, including uranium. Dominica signed an agreement with Iran that enabled citizens of Iran, parts of the Middle East, and Central Asia to obtain a second citizenship and a passport. The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis have also sold passports to Iranians.
In 2007, a Hezbollah member stationed in Guyana attempted to carry out a terrorist attack at Kennedy Airport. Likewise, in 2011 Iran tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington. Furthermore, sophisticated tunnels built along the U.S.-Mexican border have been designed in the image of the tunnels found along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Intelligence officials have raised the possibility that Hezbollah has been enlisted by drug cartels to design and improve the tunnels along America’s southern border (centerforsecuritypolicy.org/). In addition to an extensive covert campaign, the IRGC has managed to run a successful intelligence penetration of the U.S. intelligence community.
Monica Elfriede Witt, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist, has been charged with espionage on behalf of Iran in an indictment that also charges four Iranians with a cyber campaign targeting U.S. intelligence personnel. She is wanted for her alleged involvement in criminal activities to include espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage.
On February 8, 2019, a grand jury in the United States District Court, District of Columbia, indicted Witt and a federal arrest warrant was issued for her after she was charged with Conspiracy to Deliver National Defense Information to Representatives of a Foreign Government and Delivering National Defense Information to Representatives of a Foreign Government, specifically the Government of Iran (fbi.gov/monica-elfriede-witt). She is alleged to have revealed to Iran the existence of a highly classified intelligence collection program and the true identity of a U.S intelligence officer. She is currently still at large and suspected of being harbored by the Iranian government (Eye Spy).
The IRGC represents an important factor to Iran’s military strategy. The covert campaigns it has orchestrated throughout the world has allowed the Iranian regime a means to expand its influence without having to risk a direct confrontation with its enemies such as the United States.
The world is currently focused on Iran’s nuclear weapons development and what type of threat a weaponized Iran could be. However, even if Iran were to develop an arsenal, it is unlikely they would use it as any part of an overt military action. Instead, Iran will continue to pursue an indirect campaign as their means of operating militarily in the world and avoid any direct confrontation with stronger powers such as the U.S.
It will also continue to quietly expand its influence in the world with the IRGC reaching out to Islamic communities and working to support organizations and nation-states that have mutual security interests particularly against the United States. The U.S. needs to recognize that they are in a new cold war scenario and the threat of such groups as al-Qaeda and ISIS have long overshadowed the graver terror threats posed by the IRGC and its subsidiary Hizballah.
U.S. traitor identified: Iran penetration of U.S cyber networks continues, Eye Spy Magazine No. 120, 2019 p, 19.
Poole, H. John, Militant Tricks: Battlefield rules for the Islamic Insurgent. Posterity Press, Emerald Isle, NC, 2005.
O’hern, Steven K. The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad.
Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2008.
Central Africa is the new front of the Islamic insurgency and the new front for the Islamic State. Africa has long been a hotbed for Islamic insurgency with several al Qaeda affiliated radical groups carrying out violent insurgencies in many countries.
Right now, it is the most violent region after Syria and Iraq. However, the chaotic violence in the Middle-East and the threat of ISIS have captured the world’s attention largely overshadowing the violence in Africa.
As the Syrian Civil War winds down, and Iraq comes under control, the radical factions of ISIS have followed in the direction of al Qaeda and begun to franchise their operations abroad creating a whole new front in the countries of Western Africa.
While recent news on the Islamic State centers on the threat in Iraq and Syria, the group’s ideological hold in sub-Saharan Africa has been quietly growing, and not simply in relation to its well-known merger with Boko Haram. Indeed, over the past year-plus, three new Islamic State affiliates have gained prominence in sub-Saharan Africa.
In West Africa, the group known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) has gained prominence with a string of deadly attacks in September and October 2016. Simultaneously, across the continent, in the semi-autonomous northern Somali stretch of Puntland, a group known as the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) was recently the first Islamic State affiliate to hold territory in that county, while further south, another Islamic State affiliate known as the Islamic State in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (ISISSKTU) has raised concerns (ctc.usma.edu/).
The Islamic State branch in the Sahara is led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi. Sahrawi was originally the spokesman and a senior leader for the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) splinter group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Most of MUJAO eventually merged with the forces of Mokhtar Belmokhtar to form Al Murabitoon and pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader, Ayman al Zawahiri. After several leaders of Murabitoon were killed, Sahrawi eventually took the helms and defected with a faction of the group to the Islamic State. Most of Murabitoon, however, did not and eventually re-merged into AQIM (www.longwarjournal.org/islamic-state-in-the-greater-sahara-claims-second-attack-in-burkina-faso.php).
Sahrawi is a member of the Sahrawi people, who are spread across southern Morocco, Mauritania, and parts of Algeria. He is the former spokesman of Mali’s Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), formed in 2011 as an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). In August 2013, MUJAO merged with Moktar Belmokhtar’s al-Mulathamun (“The Masked Men”) Battalion—another AQIM offshoot—to form al-Mourabitoun. The group released a statement that the region’s jihadist movement is “stronger than ever,” and al-Mourabitoun would “rout” France and its allies in the region (www.counterextremism.com/extremists/adnan-al-sahrawi).
ISGS started with the merging of two other jihadi groups: The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and the Masked Men Brigade, which created a third group, al-Mourabitoun, in August 2013. Under the leadership of Mokhtar Belmokhtar—the infamous, one-eyed commander of al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—al-Mourabitoun operated without any official affiliation for the first two years after its founding.
An internecine battle within al-Mourabitoun ensued between Belmokhtar’s pro-AQIM faction and Sahraoui’s pro-Islamic State faction. Reports suggest that the battle may have actually been physical. Shortly thereafter, Sahraoui and other pro-Islamic State members of al-Mourabitoun defected, forming the Islamic State in Mali, which has now become the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. Despite Sahraoui’s defection, his group’s May 2015 pledge to the Islamic State went unanswered. ISGS seemingly fell dormant.
In late 2016, the group showed itself to be far from defunct. In the last quarter of 2016, it carried out three notable attacks near the borders of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali. The first attack occurred on the nights of September 1-2, 2016, when ISGS targeted a gendarmerie in Burkina Faso near the Nigerien border and killed two guards (ctc.usma.edu/sub-saharan-africas-three-new-islamic-state-affiliates/). The violence has only expanded to further areas of the region.
Burkina Faso has become a pinnacle to this new Islamic front. Geographically, Burkina Faso is the only country that borders all of the following coastal West African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. Therefore, those countries’ border security inevitably depends on Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso, shares borders with peaceful countries on the West African coast, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. Those countries have largely been spared from jihadist violence, with the exception of the 2016 Grand Bassam attack in Côte d’Ivoire that left 16 dead. Now, however, they appear to be on the verge of suffering from jihadist spillover from Burkina Faso into the northern regions of their countries. AQIM networks have also begun penetrating Burkina Faso and probably have cells that have reached the borders of coastal West African countries or operate there. Nevertheless, Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants have been heavily active in those areas, with that group having, among others, attacked a school and a bar not far from the border with Benin in Tapoa province, Burkina Faso.
What is more troubling is that jihadists may double as bandits and vice-versa. Crossover between militants in ISGS and AQIM groups in Burkina Faso also likely exist, considering they do not appear to be fighting each other; they come from a similar historical lineage with AQIM; and are operating in the same places.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the populations in the northern regions of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin are predominantly Muslim and some people—especially in northern Benin and parts of the other three countries—are ethnically and linguistically linked with northern Nigerian Hausas. These populations could enable not only positive trade exchanges but also the spread of negative jihadist ideologies. Shaykh Jaafar Mahmud Adam, who was a mentor of former Boko Haram leader Muhammed Yusuf, for example, conducted preaching (dawa’) in Benin, Togo, and Ghana (jamestown.org/burkina-faso-and-the-looming-jihadist-threat-to-coastal-west-africa/).
Jihadi attacks in northern Burkina Faso have been steadily on the rise. These have largely been attributable to a newly established but understudied jihadi group, Ansaroul Islam, which has its roots in the ongoing insurgency in Mali and is linked to al-Qa`ida’s network in the Sahel. Its budding insurgency greatly threatens the security of Burkina Faso and neighboring countries. State responses to the violence have been heavy-handed, which only furthers the cause of Ansaroul Islam.
In the fall of 2014, a series of events shook Burkina Faso that paved the way for the jihadi insurgency in the north of the country. The then president, Blaise Compaoré, attempted to amend the constitution ahead of the 2015 presidential elections in order to extend his 27-year rule7—sparking a popular uprising that forced Compaoré to resign and flee to neighboring Ivory Coast. The events that followed included a further destabilizing power struggle.
While Burkina Faso did not endure attacks during Compaoré’s regime, parts of its territory served as a recruitment ground and logistics hub for jihadis in the Sahel region. In the early 2010s, AQIM and its allies made several attempts to establish a more permanent presence in Burkina Faso and on its borders.
In addition to its recruitment efforts, al-Qa`ida has been able to conduct several attacks inside Burkina Faso since 2015. This includes the aforementioned kidnapping of a Romanian security guard, as well as the kidnapping of an Australian couple in January 2016. The same day of the couple’s kidnapping, gunmen belonging to AQIM carried out a large-scale terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, killing at least 30 people at the Splendid Hotel and a café popular with foreigners.23 In August 2017, at least 18 were killed at a Turkish restaurant in Ouagadougou popular with expats in another terrorist attack. While no group has claimed the assault yet, it is widely suspected to have been carried out by al-Qa`ida-aligned jihadis.
After the French military intervention in Mali and the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, the jihadi insurgency in Mali was largely confined to its northern regions. AQIM, its local front group Ansar Dine, and MUJAO routinely mounted assaults on French and U.N. peacekeepers. From 2015, the violence spread southward. According to data compiled for the Long War Journal, there were at least 30 notable attacks in central and southern Mali in 2015. The following year, there were 51. And in 2017, there were at least 90 attacks in central and southern Mali.
Concurrently, the rise in violence in northern Burkina Faso has been directly correlated to the growing violence in central and southern Mali. As the jihadis began to move southward into the regions closer to the Burkina Faso border, more operating space was made for cross-border raids into neighboring Burkina. The jihadis made use of several forested areas and the largely unprotected borders to their advantage. And they had new opportunities to train and facilitate the growth of a local Burkinabe jihadi faction (ctc.usma.edu/ansaroul-islam-growing-terrorist-insurgency-burkina-faso/). It is not just AQIM and ISGS that is posing such a threat.
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly (and to a degree, currently) known as Boko Haram, has also been rapidly growing its operations in the region. ISWAP has two factions: the al-Barnawi-led faction that controls territory in the Lake Chad Basin area in northern Borno state and the Shekau-led faction, which controls land in central and southern Borno state, including in the group’s historical stronghold of the Sambisa (ctc.usma.edu/sub-saharan-africas-three-new-islamic-state-affiliates/).
The Nigerian militant Islamist group has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions and is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, regardless of whether the president is Muslim or not - and it has extended its military campaign by targeting neighboring states. The group then began to carry out more audacious attacks in northern and central Nigeria, including bombing churches, bus ranks, bars, military barracks and even the police and UN headquarters in the capital, Abuja. It has a force of thousands of men - CIA officials have estimated around 9,000 - and cells that specialize in bombings. Through its raids on military bases and banks, it has gained control of vast amounts of weapons and money
African governments have responded to this threat. Amid growing concern about the escalating violence, the government declared a state of emergency in May 2013 in the three northern states where Boko Haram was strongest.
Eventually the deployment of troops and the formation of vigilante groups drove many of them out of Maiduguri, their main urban base and they retreated to the vast Sambisa forest to the south and the Mandara Mountains, close to the border with Cameroon. From there, the group's fighters launched mass attacks on villages and towns, looting, killing, abducting women and children and conscripting men and boys into their army. Boko Haram has outlived other militant groups in northern Nigeria and has built a presence in neighbouring states where it has carried out attacks and has recruited fighters (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13809501). Nigeria has also deployed additional 2,000 policemen from the Police Mobile Force, Counter-Terrorism Unit, bomb squads and the Sniffer Dog Section to join forces with the military to combat the threats in the stronghold regions North-East (https://punchng.com/bharam-2000-police-deployed-in-north-east/).
The Islamic insurgency has been a threat in West Africa for several years. In the twilight of the Syrian civil war and the subsequent failure of ISIS, it has gained serious momentum as the new front of the movement. Despite this, it still has not achieved the same levels seen in the Middle-East. Many of the recent IS organizations are either breakaways from pre-existing insurgent groups or existing groups that have simply transitioned into the IS franchise. The changing allegiances have led to a lot of internal conflict as loyalists to the old al Qaeda network have taken to battling those who have pledged to the IS.
While the IS and AQ groups have intensified their campaigns and spread into neighboring countries, none have yet reached the level of strength seen by ISIS in the Levant. They have stepped up a terror campaign of bombings, raids, and assassinations. Yet, none of them have shown the ability to mount large scale military operations or seize territory for any long period of time.
In addition, many of the African states threatened, such as Nigeria, have significantly better security forces than that of the Syrian or Iraqi militaries, which started out in bad condition. They have proven capable as a responsive force quickly taking back towns and villages held by insurgents and directing energies to hostile areas in a rapid timeframe. Additionally, public attitudes have yielded their own negative response to the insurgency. Several vigilante groups have taken to combating Islamic militants on their own.
In the interim, it is unlikely that the Islamic insurgency will gain the level of power seen in the Middle-East with all the resources working against it. However, that could change over time. They are recruiting heavily within the remote communities and trying to establish a new base of power for the movement. They are connected to the greater IS and al Qaeda movements abroad. Many of the African countries currently being threatened host a great deal of natural resources that could give financial capital to the movement. It is more likely that at some point, they could gain the ability to overpower security forces in regions of these countries, creating autonomous zones that could shelter groups working more actively abroad.
Western militaries have for some time been offering the support of advisors and Special Forces tactical teams largely aimed at combating Boko Harem. For now, this should suffice. However, greater emphasis must be placed on Africa as it is destined to be the next front of this conflict.