WEST AFRICA: AL-QAEDA NEW GROUND FOR RECRUITING
Al-Qaeda and its allies are exploring the West African Region for their future operations. Their focus is on a region where institutions are weakened as result of tenuous economic structures, inadequate infrastructures, unprotected borders, civil war, and insufficient or poor governance; making them susceptible to corruption and lawlessness, and a fertile ground for terrorists and organized crime. The West African Region is strategically important economically to the US because of its geopolitical dependency on oil and natural resources; unfortunately, the US does not consider the need to assist in regional security and terrorist prevention as a national security interest. In his speech at the Senate, Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control that "West Africa is one of the most fragile regions of the world" (Command 2012). Carson emphasized that the West African Region needs help to build its security. National Security must be added on US West African Economic strategy Policy, in order to have a stable peaceful region and society. Currently Al-Qaeda and its terrorists are now regrouped and using the West African Region as their new sources to operate, and recruit among Muslims and others. This research analyzes and critiques selected literature about Al-Qaeda and its allied terrorist groups in the West African Region to determine why terrorist groups are gaining ground and recruiting in West Africa. The focus will be limited to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), National Security, Governments and Economy. Created in 1975, the ECOWAS is of 15 West African countries members to include: The Republic of Cap-Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra-Leone, Ivory-Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Burkina-Faso. In December 2000 the Islamic Republic of Mauritania withdrew from the organization.
“Recently, rebel Islamists and Al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorist groups were reported to be operating in the northern fringes of Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad; have been linked to possible terrorist infiltration from North Africa” [ (Obi 2006) ]. Islamist rebels and Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorist groups are operating in the republic of Mali where they control the northern part of the country, and the southern part under the local government control. The populations in the North are suffering as result of this occupation by Islamist terrorist groups, who are trying to implement the Islamic law (sharia), and to destroy all historical monuments in addition to the Timbuktu historic shrines destruction. These terrorist actions are linked to terrorist actions in Nigeria to Al-Qaeda. Nigerian terrorist groups plant bombs throughout Nigeria, especially in the churches where hundreds are killed. The same issue exists in Ivory Coast along the border with Liberia where seven United Nation (UN) peacekeepers and civilians were shot and killed by rebels or mercenary groups. It is suspected that these terrorist groups have all material necessary to fight a conventional and unconventional war. ECOWAS is not thinking about their respective country and the world war against terrorism. Terrorists groups can coordinate an attack against US from anywhere in the world if they local or region governments are not stable, free off corruption, and act inefficiently.
The research explores the following question: Why are terrorist groups gaining ground and recruiting in West Africa where the poverty is the first enemy of the population? Consequently, the research will prove or disprove the hypothesis: If the U.S. is involved in West African security, then terrorist groups will be prevented from gaining influence in the region.
Due to the...