(New York, N.Y.) — Africa has become an increasingly important hub for funneling money to ISIS affiliates and fighters, according to a report published last week by the U.N. Security Council. In one instance, funds generated by Kenyan and Ugandan ISIS supporters in South Africa are being laundered for the benefit of the ISIS-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, the report mentions how ISIS in Somalia hosts the Al-Karrar office, a financial hub that allocates substantial funds to ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, by way of Yemen, with a potential link to Kenya or even a cell in the United Kingdom. ISIS-K reportedly uses these funds to acquire new weapons and pay the salaries of fighters.
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“ISIS continues to adapt to efforts to disrupt its finance channels. One strategy is to diversify its income streams as well as decentralize its financing away from its center downwards to its regional affiliates. The development of new channels and funding strategies by the organization will only increase the global threat from ISIS. As ISIS expands its global financial network throughout Africa, policymakers should not hesitate to act,” said Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler. “Increased funding leads to increased attacks and further geographic expansion. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community strengthen its efforts to detect and disrupt terror financing benefitting ISIS.”
“It’s tempting for Westerners to see the increased activity and quality of ISIS attacks in Syria within the past month as a relatively contained threat. The data and evidence in the U.N. Security Council’s report, however, demonstrate otherwise. ISIS continues to pose a significant threat globally and a global effort is required to rein them in,” stated CEP research analyst Gregory Waters.
Despite its territorial losses in Iraq and Syria, ISIS continues to maintain and expand its global presence. The group has declared wilayat (provinces, governorates) in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the North Caucasus. Within the first seven months of 2019, ISIS announced new provinces in India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Central Africa. The group continued to expand, and in March 2021, the United States designated ISIS’s provinces in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beyond this, the terror group attracts considerable sympathy or has waged attacks in Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, the Philippines, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Palestinian territories.