The Africa-based jihadist groups Boko Haram and al-Shabaab have intensified their efforts against U.S. interests in response to increasing American military pressure against their operations approved by President Donald Trump.
Boko Haram, primarily based in Nigeria, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), while the Somalia-based al-Shabaab is considered an affiliate of ISIS rival al-Qaeda.
Nevertheless, both groups stand to lose from America’s military presence in Africa.
Late last month, Nigerian authorities reportedly thwarted an attempt by the ISIS-linked Boko Haram to attack the United Kingdom and the United States embassies in the African nation’s capital Abuja, recently revealed Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) in a statement.
The revelation comes as U.S. officials confirmed that the Trump administration is expected to move ahead with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram.
“A primary focus for [U.S.] Africa Command [AFRICOM] in West Africa is containing and degrading Boko Haram and its offshoot since last year, ISIS-West Africa,” Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the top American commander in the region, told lawmakers last month.
Africa Command, while not engaged in direct military operations, supports the efforts of our Lake Chad Basin partners [Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad] to counter Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa by providing advisors, intelligence, training, and equipment to complement other U.S.-provided equipment and logistical support.
Meanwhile, the Somalia-based al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab has vowed to escalate deadly attacks as part of a “doubled response” to President Trump’s approval of expanded U.S. military efforts against it, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.
Shabaab Calls Its Recent Attacks Countermeasures to Intensified Pressure from Somali, U.S. Governments https://t.co/PUeTVno8Zu
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) April 11, 2017
AFRICOM is also involved in efforts in East Africa to “neutralize al-Shabaab and [ultimately] transition the security responsibilities of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to the Federal Government of Somalia,” said Gen. Waldhauser, adding:
Africa Command continues to support the counter-terrorism efforts, assist AMISOM troop contributing countries, assist in equipping and training the SNSF [Somali National Security Forces], enable international partners in their training efforts, and protect U.S. personnel in Somalia and the region. Our advise, assist, and accompany efforts, paired with our deliberate targeting of top-level al-Shabaab leadership, have had a significant impact in degrading al-Shabaab’s effectiveness in East Africa, but those two efforts are not enduring solutions to Somalia’s problems.
President Trump has ordered the American military to intensify airstrikes against the al-Shabaab terrorists.
“U.S. special operations forces can move closer to the fight while increasing assistance to Somali forces,” reports the Associated Press (AP).
This month, Trump’s State Department issued an updated message warning Americans of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommended that U.S. citizens avoid all but essential travel to various regions of the African country.
The State Department warns:
Boko Haram, an extremist group, based in the northeast, has targeted churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe states.
“Islamic State West Africa, which is now a distinct group from Boko Haram, is present in Nigeria, and may seek to attack locations frequented by Westerners including major population centers,” it adds. “U.S. citizens should be vigilant at public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners. Markets, hotels, restaurants, bars and places of worship may become targets for terrorist attacks.”
During the last days of former President Barack Obama, the State Department also updated its warning against travel to Somalia.
“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Somalia because of continuous activity by the al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab. U.S. citizens should be aware of the threat of kidnapping in all parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland,” noted the message.
“There is a particular terrorist threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, hotels, and shopping areas,” it added.