Africa has become the main target of the terrorist group ISIS, suffering 41% of all its attacks worldwide, said Wednesday in Marrakech, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad, Nasser Bourita. “ISIS holds the infamous record of becoming the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2021. Africa, meanwhile, has become its main target, suffering 41% of all ISIS attacks worldwide,” said Bourita at the opening of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. On this occasion, the minister noted that compared to the pre-pandemic period, violence has increased on the continent, with a 40 to 60% rise in terms of fatalities and attacks. In 2021, he said, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 48% of global terrorism deaths – with 3.461 casualties, bringing the death toll to 30.000 people during the last 15 years. The minister also pointed out that Sahel is home to the world’s fastest growing and most-deadly terrorist groups, adding that deaths in the Sahel region account for 35% of global terrorism deaths in 2021, compared with just 1% in 2007. “Terrorism’s death toll increased by over 1.000% between 2007 and 2021 in the Sahel,” Bourita lamented, noting that West Africa and the Sahel are the most impacted regions in Africa, with more than 1.4 million persons internally displaced due to ongoing confrontations. Bourita said that during the last decade, the economic impact of terrorism cost the continent a total loss of 171 billion USD – an amount lost to the economic and social development effort for the region. “Today, 27 terrorist entities based in Africa are registered on the UN Security Council Sanction list,” he added, stressing that “this is a clear indicator of their connections to major global terrorist Groups”.
The terrorist threat in Africa has now reached the Atlantic coasts and its shipping routes, warned Bourita, underlining that links between terrorism and piracy appeared in the Gulf of Guinea, as seen in the Horn of Africa. Terrorist groups are also seeking control of natural resources. In this regard, the minister said that this meeting creates high hopes and expectations, echoed by the strong participation of African countries, whether members or observers of the Global Coalition, noting that discussions should be an opportunity to express active solidarity to Africa in the fight against the threat posed by Daesh, promote African States ownership of efficient counterterrorist policies and strategies and support existing national and sub-regionals initiatives, such as those of Ecowas. In this context, Bourita added that this meeting marks a substantive evolution of the Coalition’s Strategic orientation, building on three key trends. Firstly, the consolidation of Daesh’s territorial defeat in the Middle East “allows us to direct more support towards national capacity building in the region,” the minister said, noting that “stabilization, civilian-led capacity-building and Strategic Communication, now feature prominently in all aspects of the Coalition’s commitment to eradicate Daesh.” And finally, according to the minister, the Coalition will be able to prioritize its response to the evolving terrorist threat, in other regions of the world, based on an inclusive approach that supports existing national and sub-regional mechanisms.
Also, he said that “despite these positive developments, cautious optimism has also been one of our guiding principles; and rightly so. We remain lucid on the state of the ISIS threat, which has not diminished”. “Our shared assessment of the dangerous rise of terrorist threats in Africa has led to the emergence of a tailored approach of the Coalition’s support to Africa,” he added, noting that this approach is embodied by the Africa Focus Group, co-led by the United States, Italy, Niger and Morocco – which met on Tuesday in Marrakech. Morocco’s co-chairmanship of the Group provides an additional platform for the Kingdom to share experiences learned from its holistic and integrated Counter Terrorism Strategy, developed under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Bourita stressed.