The proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist groups across Africa represents the latest iteration of the War on Terror. Much to the chagrin of the United States, Islamist militant groups from Nigeria to Somalia are increasingly coordinating their efforts and forging close links to al-Qaeda. This dossier will serve as a brief introduction to four of the most prominent Islamic fundamentalist groups operating in Africa today.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Algeria and the Sahel
Founded in Algeria, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a Sunni group that is largely responsible for the renewal of Islamic insurgency in North Africa. It was previously known as theSalafist Group for Preaching and Combat, though a merger with al-Qaeda in 2006 rebranded the movement as a local chapter of al-Qaeda. AQIM’s stated goals are the overthrow of the Algerian government and the establishment of an Islamic state in its place. Despite its roots as a local insurrection tied to the Algerian Civil War of the early nineties, AQIM has become increasingly internationalized since merging with al-Qaeda. The group’s operations now extend across the Sahel, and it has attacked targets in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. AQIM has also gained notoriety for kidnapping various European tourists in North Africa. But despite these occasional reaches beyond its borders, AQIM remains a largely Algerian operation, drawing from the Kabyle and Sahrawi communities for membership. According to the head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), AQIM is now the richest faction of al-Qaeda.