With the recent kidnap of foreign workers in Algeria dominating the headlines, Tim Holt, Head of Intelligence at Willis’ Special Contingency Risk division, warned that a “potential belt of aggregated terror” – bringing economic decline and human misery – threatens the entire Sahel region.
“If uncontained by the current and planned interventions organizations in the countries of the Sahel and its neighboring regions, whether journalists, aid workers or corporations will see their risk profile significantly altered,” he added.
In his blog Holt points out that there is a “profound risk to security, livelihoods and stability in the Sahel, presented by a possible spread of Islamic terrorism from Mauritania in the west to the Horn of Africa in the East.”
Factors enabling the principle security threats include the following:
– Al-Qaeda and its franchises continue to foment violence – as witnessed recently with the horrific kidnap of foreign gas workers in Algeria. But the ideological teachings of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could also percolate through porous borders from Mali into Niger and Mauritania.
– A key factor boosting AQIM’s ability to project violence regionally was the significant influx of weapons and mercenaries from Libya following the fall of Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in 2011.
– The existence of a fertile bed of unemployed and militarily experienced young men throughout the Sahel willing to turn to conflict and its occasional financial rewards can only increase the likelihood of creeping extremism.
– Loss of infrastructure will increase the probability of business disruption, attacks upon foreign installations and threats to individuals such as violent crime, murder or kidnap for ransom (an accepted ‘fund-raising’ mechanism for AQIM) will rise in and beyond terrorist locations. Local populations could also be driven from their land at the expense of their lives and fragile rural economies.
– An uncontained springboard for terrorists could threaten Sub-Saharan Africa’s long and lurching progress towards effective governance and prosperity.
Source: Tim Holt – Willis