CEP-KAS West Africa

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) are jointly implementing the project “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” from November 2022 to early 2024. The project analyzes the various aspects of the complex security environment and develops policy options to mitigate these challenges for regional as well as international policymakers, including at the European Union level.

West Africa and the Sahel region have experienced a steady decline in stability in parallel with a growth in terrorism threats for several years. The key regional terrorist networks—the al-Qaeda affiliated coalition Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin' (JNIM) and the two affiliates of the Islamic State (ISIS), IS West Africa Province (ISWAP) and IS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)—have grown significantly since the destruction of ISIS’s so-called califate in Iraq and Syria and the significant reduction of territorial control of the terrorist group in both countries. In West Africa and the Sahel, terrorist groups and networks exploit ethnic differences, exacerbating intercommunal violence, and are intertwined with transnational organized crime complicating an already fragile situation.

The CEP-KAS project includes the production of 12 policy papers, which are co-authored by African and Western experts, as well as monthly and weekly social media analyses, which monitors and evaluates the activities of relevant actors and terrorist networks in West Africa.

  • Policy Papers

    Summary: These 12 papers address four different main topics: (1) current status of terrorism threat; (2) problematic external state actors; (3) internal drivers of terrorism threat; and (4) effective countermeasures.

  • Sahel Monitoring Blogs

    These monthly blogs analyze social media content produced by terrorist actors in West Africa. The result leads to important insights into terrorists’ activities and strategic approach in the region.

  • Social Media Monitoring

    This weekly report summarizes the use social media by terrorists active in West Africa for propaganda and recruitment processes.

Theo Clement and Hans-Jakob Schindler

Interlinkage of terrorism and transnational organized crime in West Africa

The nexus between terrorist and transnational organized crime (TOC) networks in West Africa
presents one of the most significant security challenges. Both networks undermine governance
and the rule of law and cooperate on a multitude of levels in a complex web of mutual beneficial
arrangements. Therefore, this nexus presents a mutually enforcing mechanism that
supports and accelerates regional destabilization.

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Ini Dele-Adedeji and Sofia Koller

Linkages of terrorist groups in West Africa with terrorist networks in other African regions

This policy paper summarizes the current state of affairs regarding the linkages of terrorist groups in West Africa with terrorist networks in other African regions. It also provides recommendations for policymakers and security agencies.

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PIETER VAN OSTAEYEN AND KWESI ANING

Status of ISWAP and ISGS in West Africa and Sahel

Since the initial rise in violent extremist and terrorist groups in the Sahel in the mid-2000s, the number of such groups in the region has continued to grow. This is reflected in the nature of the opportunistic alliances that have developed among different groups, with varying interests and memberships. Furthermore, these groups have changed their operational tactics over time and, since 2019, began a gradual expansion of their activities towards the littoral states of West Africa.

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Amb. Edmund Fitton-Brown and Bakary Sambe

Development of al-Qaeda in the Western Sahel region

This short paper explores how Jamaat Nusrat Al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), the predominant coalition of al-Qaeda (AQ) affiliates in the region, is structured and financed and how its component parts relate to one another. The paper will outline how the various groups constituting JNIM train and operate jointly and the extent of their use of trafficking routes and overlap with regional organized crime. It addresses the extent to which the spillover of JNIM activity from Mali and Burkina Faso into the Atlantic/Gulf of Guinea littoral states represents a threat to their stability. It also addresses the impact of political instability in

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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring December 2023

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For the first time since CEP reporting began in December 2022, the number of monthly attacks claimed by al-Qaida and ISIS affiliates in West Africa exceeded 90. In December 2023, the claimed number of attacks averaged  three per day, just short of 100. This supports earlier CEP predictions that the number of claimed attacks would continue to increase in 2024. At the beginning of CEP’s reporting, regional terror groups  claimed on average 38 attacks monthly. This increased steeply during 2023. A first peak was reached during the month of Ramadan 2023, which coincided with April 2023 with a total of

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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring November 2023

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The twelfth monthly report monitoring the online propaganda activities of al-Qaeda and Islamic State branches throughout the Sahel will focus on the output of these groups in November 2023. Last month again witnessed over 80 claimed attacks. In November, ISWAP claimed a significant number of attacks. These 45 claimed attacks were the second highest number since monitoring began in December 2022. Only in April 2023, with 46 claims, did the group boast about more operations online. This is noteworthy because in April 2023 the annual Ramadan terror campaign was in full swing, which always sees the highest number of terror

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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring October 2023

The eleventh monthly report monitoring the activities of al-Qaeda and Islamic State branches throughout the Sahel will focus on the propaganda output of these groups in October 2023.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring September 2023

This tenth monthly report monitoring activities of al-Qaeda and Islamic State branches throughout the Sahel will focus on the propaganda output of these groups in September 2023.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring August 2023

This report focuses on operations throughout the Sahel in August 2023, which were claimed by al-Qaeda and ISIS propaganda outlets. In total, 57 different operations were claimed by these groups.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring July 2023

This report focuses on operations throughout the Sahel in July 2023 claimed by the propaganda outlets of al-Qaeda and ISIS. In total, 45 different operations were claimed by these groups.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS: Sahel Monitoring June 2023

This report is the seventh installment in a monthly series focused on al-Qaeda and Islamic State operations throughout the Sahel.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP – KAS - Sahel Monitoring May 2023

This sixth monthly analytical report based on open source observations of Jihadi activities throughout the Sahel will focus on the most significant events that occurred in May 2023.
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP-KAS: Sahel Monitoring April 2023

This fifth monthly analytical report based on open source observations of Jihadi activities throughout the Sahel will focus on the most significant events that occurred in April 2023. The month of April partly overlapped with the holy month of Ramadan (March 23 – April 20).
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Pieter Van Ostaeyen

CEP-KAS: Sahel Monitoring March 2023

This fourth monthly analytical report on open source observations of Jihadi activities throughout the Sahel will focus on the most significant events that occurred in March 2023.
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Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On January 23, 2019, two car bombs exploded outside of a mosque in Benghazi, Libya, killing 41 people and injuring 80 others. No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but remnants suggested an ISIS affiliate was responsible.  

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