The Islamic State in Africa: History, Trends, & Attribution

The horrific attack on the port town of Palma in Mozambique is the latest in a rapidly growing list of attacks by Islamic State affiliates across the African continent. From Mozambique to Nigeria and Mali to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Islamic State seems to have found fertile grounds for its ideology and strategy in Africa. The reality is far more complex, with many pro-Islamic State groups having long histories of insurgency that predate the Islamic State and engaging in a varied patchwork of operational activities. Indeed, there are growing concerns that attributing groups to the Islamic State’s global enterprise raises scholarly concerns and potentially grave policy implications for populations already traumatized by decades of war. Yet the risks of downplaying or ignoring the link may have even greater repercussions. 

 

On April 7, 2021, the Program on Extremism hosted a virtual panel discussion to debate these issues, moderated by Program on Extremism senior research fellow Haroro J. Ingram. The panel featured: 

  • Tricia Bacon, Associate Professor, American University 
  • Bulama Bukarti, Analyst, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change 
  • Austin Doctor, Assistant Professor, Eastern Kentucky University 
  • Emily Estelle, Research Fellow, American Enterprise Institute 
  • Laren Poole, Chief Operations Officer, The Bridgeway Foundation