The Al-Shabaab militants have attacked a US Africa Command training base in Manda Bay, Kenya on Sunday, citing Fox News. This comes within the same week that a grotesque bus attack was launched against civilians in the region.
The question weighs heavily on our minds as we compare this onslaught to other attacks across Africa as of the last month range. Especially in regards to the recent US-Iranian tension escalations. Are these jihadi militant acts related somehow?
To know what we are looking at, we will go back a few years into the past and analyze the history of jihadi threats in the regions surrounding Africa. Citing the Jihadi Threat ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Beyond by the United States Institute of Peace and Wilson Center, we know that the hottest Islamic violence takes place in North Africa and the Sahel. These countries for North Africa include Western Sahara, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia. For the Sahel, the list of countries includes northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, southwestern Niger, northern Nigeria, central Chad, central Sudan, and northern Eritrea, citing Ponce.
The publication by Institue of Peace states that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are rivals of ISIS. Rather than slow the threat of jihadism, it expands it widely. The two groups have complementary impacts on the global Salafist movement. Salafi is the utopia that jihadi aims to build through its exploits.
We see a rising influence of Islamic jihads from Africa making their way into other Middle Eastern nations. There are an estimated 6-7,000 Tunisian fighters in Syria and Iraq. There are an estimated 1,200-1,500 fighters from Morocco in Iraq and Syria. It is evident then that the northern Islamist regions of Africa and the countries of the Sahel are enterprising jihads.
So, while today's attack at Camp Simba is likely not affiliated with the US-Iran escalations it could have been inspired by it somewhat.
As the tensions between the US and Islamic states unfold, Africa can likely expect to see soft target retaliatory attacks like the ones in Kenya to come from Iran-based forces. Africa may also expect inspired acts like this one today could possibly have been.
The politics of this situation are a developing issue. The New African Living Standard is currently investigating the politics behind al-Shabaab's increased brazen attacks in this region. We are also investigating the impact of increasingly hostile US-Middle Eastern relations on North Africa and the Sahel. Keep checking back for updates.