UN Experts Warn of High Terrorist Threat in African Conflict Zones, Afghanistan, and Rising Threat in Europe

The terrorist threat from al-Qaida, the Islamic State group, and their affiliates remains high in conflict zones in Africa and in Afghanistan.

The relationship between Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and al-Qaida remains close, with the Taliban providing a safe haven for the group. The Islamic State group, despite its defeat in Iraq and Syria, still has between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters in the two countries and is carrying out low-intensity insurgency and covert terrorist activities.

There is concern that the Islamic State could move its leadership and “center of gravity” to Africa or Afghanistan, with Africa being considered more likely by some experts. In West Africa and the Sahel, violence and threats have escalated, with Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliated groups exploiting a deficit in counterterrorism capabilities. In East Africa, al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, remains resilient despite significant losses from military operations.

Al-Qaida has improved its media productions and messaging but has faced challenges in restoring its credibility and attracting recruits. There is concern that al-Qaida could exploit certain situations, such as the conflict in Gaza, to recover relevance and inspire self-initiated attacks globally. In Europe, formal terrorist threat levels have risen following fatal attacks in late 2023 in France and Belgium, as well as numerous non-lethal terrorist incidents and arrests in several European countries.

Piers Potter


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