All eyes have been on Afghanistan as the Taliban takes control, but the United Nations Security Council was focused Thursday on the threat of Islamic extremism on the African continent.
UN counterterrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov, presenting his report on Islamic State and related groups to the council, called for a coordinated global response to turn back the tide for Africa.
It is “urgently needed to support the efforts of African countries and regional organizations to counter terrorism and address its interplay with conflict, organized crime, governance and development gaps,” Voronkov said.
Islamic State remains focused on Iraq and Syria, but Voronkov said the most alarming developments in recent months are spread across the African continent.
Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has left hundreds of civilians dead since the beginning of the year in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, according to the report. Another 80 people have died following an extremist attack in the northern part of Burkina Faso on Wednesday.
Voronkov said those affiliated with Islamic State’s West Africa Province will likely benefit as Boko Haram grows weaker, and as extremists and foreign fighters from Libya support their efforts. Islamic State activity in Central Africa, notably in northern Mozambique, may have “far-reaching implications” for regional security, he said.
Turning back to Afghanistan, the UN official noted how the Taliban represents the ever-evolving extremist threat, which has become less centralized in part by developing digital technologies.
“We will need to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as launching pad for global terrorism,” Voronkov said.
Image: United Nations