The impact of ISIS’ mentoring of North Africa’s jihadist groups

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By Alex Waterman

By supplanting al-Qaeda as a major influence on North African jihadists, ISIS poses a threat to volatile and fragile North African states. Recognising the reasons for ISIS’ influence with North Africa’s youthful population of would-be jihadists is essential to blocking its expanding influence.

The key jihadist insurgencies in North Africa are choosing to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Islamic fundamentalist group that had declared an Islamic State, or caliphate, in territories its solders have captured in Iraq and Syria has inspired tactics and propaganda of the African insurgencies it is mentoring, and also provides practical support by training and giving experience to fighters who then carry out in Africa what they learned on the battlefields of the Middle East. ISIS’ goal in North Africa is to assist insurgency groups to establish Islamic states in their respective countries. These states would then become part of a larger Islamic caliphate that, as envisioned by ISIS, would dominate the globe in time. North African Islamic states would be strategic allies to ISIS as it controls its own state from the remnants of Iraq and Syria.