“We remain lucid on the state of the ISIS threat, which has not diminished,” said Bourita, whose country is hosting a conference of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He said that sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 48 percent, or 3,461, of the deaths worldwide attributed to ISIS in 2021.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken had planned to attend the meeting here, but canceled after testing positive for covid-19. Victoria Nuland, undersecretary for political affairs, and Yael Lempert, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, led the U.S. delegation.
The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS was established in September 2014 and is composed of 85 states and international partner organizations.
Nuland said in her remarks that ISIS has been considerably weakened in Iraq and Syria, but continues to seek opportunities to reconstitute itself. “From the need for increased humanitarian services for the nearly 60,000 people at al-Hol camp, to developing appropriate solutions for youth in detention, to improving the security solutions for the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and family members awaiting repatriation to their home countries, there is more work to be done by members of the coalition,” she said.
Nuland also noted that ISIS and other terrorist groups have increased their influence and capabilities in West Africa.
“The United States is committed to working with our partners in West Africa to confront the challenges that have allowed these groups to flourish, among them lack of state legitimacy, persistent rights violations and food insecurity,” she said. “In response to this and other security threats, the United States will spend over $119 million in new assistance in sub-Saharan Africa to improve the capabilities of civilian law enforcement and the judiciary to disrupt, apprehend, prosecute and convict terrorists across the continent.”
Bourita said terrorist groups, once limited to the rural interior, have reached the Atlantic coast in West Africa, threatening shipping routes. And, he said, the kind of piracy that has plagued the Horn of Africa is emerging in the Gulf of Guinea.
The global coalition earlier this year created the Africa Focus Group, led by the United States, Italy, Niger and Morocco.
In recent weeks, the Islamic State’s affiliates in West Africa and a northern swath of the continent known as Sahel have carried out several attacks. On May 10, Amaq, a news agency affiliated with ISIS, released a video of fighters executing more than a dozen Nigerian Christians to avenge the deaths of former leaders, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist organizations globally.