top of page

The Lowdown Hub

‘Islamic State in Africa’ explores nine militant Islamist groups This book takes a comprehensive

This book takes a comprehensive look at the rise of Islamic State affiliates operating on the continent

For many African countries, violence linked to militant Islamist groups is a pressing security threat. These armed extremist groups amplify grievances and intercommunal differences to recruit new members and foster anti-government sentiments. Civilian communities often bear the brunt of this violence, as virtually none of these groups enjoy widespread popular support.

Militant Islamist violence in Africa reached new heights in 2021, sustaining a decade-long trend. But the pattern is not uniform across the continent. In North Africa, Mozambique and the Lake Chad basin — an area comprising parts of Nigeria, eastern Niger, Chad and Cameroon — violence declined in 2021. But militant Islamist violence in the Sahel — comprising parts of Mali, Burkina Faso and western Niger — nearly doubled.

Where are Islamic State groups active?

In “The Islamic State in Africa,” Jason Warner, Ryan O’Farrell, Héni Nsaibia and Ryan Cummings provide the first comprehensive account of nine African militant Islamist groups. Each group proclaims ties to the Islamic State. The authors ask why allegiance to the Islamic State has persisted in Africa despite the group’s decline in Iraq and Syria, particularly after the 2019 death of founding leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To address this puzzle, the authors investigate the emergence and evolution of Islamic State groups in Africa.

Readers will learn about the group’s background before jumping deeper. Nine case studies offer a close look at Islamic State affiliates in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, the Lake Chad basin, the Sahel, Somalia, Congo and Mozambique. These cases explore the Islamic State affiliates’ varying trajectories. The group identifies its affiliates in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia as wilayat, or provinces, of the Islamic State. Other groups — the Sahel, Congo and Mozambique — are “wings” or “affiliates.” The Islamic State never accorded Islamist militants in Tunisia affiliate status, only referring to them abstractly as Jund al-Khalifa, or “soldiers of the caliphate.”