According to Moroccan intelligence, ISIS counts approximately 6,000 fighters in Africa and is looking to recruit more.
Rabat – The ISIS threat is still significant in West Africa and the Sahel, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita warned during a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group.
The virtual meeting, organized on June 4 and co-chaired by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio, brought together diplomats from 30 countries.
During his intervention, Bourita emphasized that ISIS seeks to take advantage of the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic to “orchestrate its return.”
The terrorist organization has intensified its acts of violence in several regions, including in the Sahel and West Africa, Bourita explained.
The minister urged member states of the coalition to double their efforts in order to ensure a “global and lasting defeat of the terrorist group,” by depriving the terrorist organization of the necessary resources to carry through its plans including time and space.
Bourita particularly stressed the importance of curbing the terrorist threat in Africa, explaining that ISIS has turned its sights on the African continent after the global coalition “destroyed [its] territorial ambition in the Middle East.”
While sharing Morocco’s assessment of the recent situation in Africa, Bourita said that the ISIS-affiliated fighters in Africa “use sophisticated weapons, including drones, and fuel the ambition to control local communities, while working to attract fighters from other terrorist branches.”
Morocco estimates the number of ISIS-affiliated fighters in Africa at approximately 6,000 and the continent is currently experiencing an increase in attacks in Central Africa and the Sahel, the minister added.
Bourita renewed Morocco’s plea for greater attention to the evolution of terrorist threats in Africa, calling for more global support for the efforts of African states and their subregional mechanisms against terrorism.
Bourita then recalled the coalition’s meeting in Skhirat, Morocco, in June 2018, where the member states pledged to eradicate ISIS, counter its global networks, halt its financing, and curb its recruitment.
June 4’s meeting concluded with the participants reaffirming their commitment to cooperation in all of the coalition’s fields of action.
The small group’s meeting is the sixth of its kind, after meetings in Paris in June 2015, Rome in February 2016, New York in September 2017, Brussels in July 2018, and Washington in November 2019.