Terrorist Networks Project

Africa File, May 16, 2024: Russian Outreach Across Africa

Russia has reinforced its military presence in Libya as it consolidates its positions across Africa. Russia may have deployed the influx of personnel and matériel as part of ongoing negotiations to secure a naval base in Libya, prepare to send more support to various theaters in sub-Saharan Africa, or strengthen its position to make itself essential to resolving the ongoing domestic stalemate in Libya.

Africa File, May 9, 2024: America and Russia’s Shifting Roles in West Africa

The United States is strengthening counterterrorism and defense cooperation with littoral West African countries as it plans its withdrawal from Niger. US Africa Command Commander Gen. Michael Langley met with top civilian and military leaders, including the presidents and defense chiefs, in Côte d’Ivoire and Benin between April 28 and May 3.

Africa File, May 2, 2024: Iran Pursues Economic and Military Influence

Iran in Africa: Iran is using military exports as a vehicle to pursue objectives in Africa such as acquiring uranium in Niger and a permanent Red Sea port in Sudan. The United States has tried to push against these efforts through bilateral and multilateral pressure and negotiating alternative solutions. Iran is also trying to expand its economic ties across Africa to mitigate sanctions, as demonstrated by its second annual Iran-Africa trade summit. Numerous meetings between Iran and Burkinabe and Zimbabwean officials indicate both countries are a particular focus.

Africa File, April 25, 2024: IS Somalia Expansion Benefits IS Global Network

The Islamic State claimed that its Somali affiliate has expanded control over mountainous areas of northern Somalia at the expense of al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate al Shabaab, which would strengthen the regional IS office’s ability to support global Islamic State activity, including funding external attack plots in Asia and the West through the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).

Africa File Special Edition: Russia’s Africa Corps Arrives in Niger. What’s Next?

Russian Africa Corps soldiers deployed to Niger on April 12, which will challenge US efforts to remain in Niger in the immediate term—undermining the West’s counterterrorism posture in West and North Africa—and create long-term opportunities for the Kremlin to create conventional and irregular threats that strategically pressure Europe. The Africa Corps contingent in Niger will likely remain small in the coming months because it lacks the capacity for a bigger deployment due to recruitment issues. This small footprint will enable Russia to strengthen its influence in Niger and consolidate its logistical network in Africa without significantly affecting the rapidly escalating al Qaeda and Islamic State insurgencies in Niger. Greater Russian influence and military presence in Niger in the coming years will create several future opportunities for the Kremlin to strategically threaten Europe with energy blackmail, migration influxes, and conventional military threats.

Africa File, April 4, 2024: Mali and Russia Explore Mali’s Mineral Wealth; Niger Plays the Field; the Kremlin’s Red Sea Ambitions in Eritrea

Mali and Russia are increasingly cooperating on mineral extraction to boost both countries’ revenues. Russian companies have made several road-map agreements with Mali for gold refinery construction, geological mapping, and civil nuclear power cooperation since March 25. The Malian and Russian governments also signed several cooperation agreements on oil, gas, uranium, and lithium production on March 31. The signing of these cooperation agreements is a step forward in implementing several memoranda of understanding and high-level discussions held between the two countries in 2023 and 2024.

Africa File, March 28, 2024: Islamic State Resurgent in Mozambique; al Shabaab’s Ramadan Offensive

ISMP is massing forces, temporarily holding and governing territory, and operating across a geographic scope unseen since at least 2022. ISMP began increasing its rate of attacks in December 2023 and maintained a higher rate in January and February 2024 as part of the Islamic State’s global “Kill Them Where You Find Them” attack campaign. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Database (ACLED) recorded that ISMP has initiated 57 attacks since December 19, 2023. This rate is more than double the roughly nine attacks per month it averaged from January to November 2023. The group carried out six attacks in the first half of March, putting it on pace to surpass its monthly average in 2023 despite its offensive peaking in February. The group has sustained this increased activity despite Mozambique’s annual rainy season from January to March, when adverse weather conditions have historically caused attacks to decrease.

JNIM Encroaches on Guinea; al Shabaab Hotel Attack

Al Qaeda–linked militants in Mali have increased attacks along Mali’s border with Guinea as part of an ongoing campaign to degrade Malian lines of communication around the capital. The al Qaeda–linked militants are unlikely to expand attacks into Guinea, but sustained activity along the Guinean border creates opportunities for the militants to use Guinea as a rear support zone.