Poverty, bad living conditions and a lack of proper education are traditionally eco systems where religious extremism is a fast growing element.
Although not often recognized, Africa is a key continent for The Al Qaida terror network. In the past we have observed several terror attacks in African countries as well as religion related and inspired conflicts.
The CIA and European Intelligence Agencies have mentioned Africa as a large centre of "recruitment" for the Al Qaida terror network.
(2009) Following an outbreak of sectarian violence the leader of North Africa's AI Qaida branch offered training and weapons to Nigeria's Muslims to fight the Christians there, Abdelmalek Droukdel, leader of Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, accused the Nigeria's Christians of killing hundreds of Muslims in a ‘Crusader war’.
Droukdel promised to train Muslim youths, supply them with weapons and equipment. “We are ready to train your sons on using weapons, support them with men, weapons, ammunition and equipment to enable them defend themselves,” he said, exhorting Nigerians to "push your sons into the fields of jihad to become the fighting vanguard in defense of the Muslims' blood and honor."
(2009) A surge in attacks on security and anti terror specialists was expected to continue in 2010. In this aspect the threat level for Nigeria was Elevated.
Financiers of Al Qaeda, as in connections that go back to the 90’s and developed into the past decade. Informal relationships and human networks, one of the most important of which was formed around bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s, create the underlyingrhizomatic dynamics that bridges the formal structures of the network and induces the Al Qaeda Value Pyramid on three levels. The organization is seen as currently led by Ayman al Zawahiri.
1. Investigations (Ultrascan-AGI, 2007-2013) links, the initial funding for the new organisations and the support for more complex (cross continent) attacks by Al Qaeda's new affiliates in Africa (2008), with persons currently and formerly associated to the Khorasan group, the Al Haramain Foundation and its founder and 'former' leader Aqeel Al-Aqeel.
2. The African connections are “key players” in Africa’s infrastructure, finance and security. The younger generations of Africa’s upper class, that are being groomed for a political office and are often considered “presidential material”.
3. Cross border crime syndicates in country and Diaspora, large criminal networks with fast numbers of perpetrators around the world supporting finance, transport, distribution and money laundering. Cross border crime with a Low Probability of Detection (LPD) specialised in the Cyber Crime Advance Fee Fraud.
Between 2003 and 2007 there was evidence of a terrorist connection “in the slipstream”of 419 Advance Fee Fraud networks, supporting attacks. In 2008 and 2009 there was evidence linking 419 AFF networks to funding the development of extremist organisations in east, central and west Africa and attacks.
(2008, 2009) Profits from 419 AFF organizations financed arms deals and its cross border crime networks were used to support trafficking.
(2009, 2010) Ultrascan-HUMINT received regular reports about extremist infiltrations in southern Nigerian and European mosques, as well as Nigerian criminals in the Diaspora who converted to Islam, targeting Muslim communities for Advance Fee Fraud.
(2011, 2012, 2013) The 419unit of Ultrascan-AGI investigated a number of Advance Fee Fraud scams specifically Romance Fraud and Sextortion Scams that involved female and male members of US dating sites (e.g. Match.com) who were scammed from southern Nigeria by supporters of Boko Haram that pretended to be “lovers”.
Unwary of the fact that they were funding terrorism, these US victims paid amounts varying between $7,300 and $57,000 to money launderers and recruiters of Boko Haram who reside in the UK. Remarkable is that these recruiters and sponsors for Boko Haram but also the victims of fraud, were university educated, often MD’s.
419 AFF fraud is shifting from a criminal inspired activity into an ideology driven terror funding mechanism for African based terror organizations and their affiliates in Europe.
Although it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of (Nigerian) 419 fraud, it is a fact that it can easily be compared with a GDP of a medium sized country.
(2012, 2013) At the moment The Cyber Crime 419 Advance Fee Fraud (e.g. Romance scams, Sextortion and Hajj Fraud) a Low Probability of Detection crime, is the primary funding for most of the African based terror groups in Somalia, Nigeria, central Africa and East African communities.
Al Qaeda’s GSI doctrine - Generic, Specific, International
New or (re-)acquired groups like Al Shabaab and Boko Haram start of as a mix of Jihadi, criminals and traitors that could not go for training and scrutiny outside Africa and are good enough for Phase-I to establish presence and fear, but not (yet) worthy of Al Qaeda acknowledgment as affiliate.
Before Al Qaeda acknowledges a group, it has similar global and regional considerations as states have before designating a group as Foreign Terrorist Organization.
(2011, 2012) For new or re-acquired insurgencies it takes time, experience and cleansing of bad habits and bad recruits, for Al Qaeda to acknowledge and enable them without being betrayed or risking that such group becomes a stain on its brand or is wiped out completely.
(2012, 2013) Both Boko Haram and Al Shabaab have gone through those processes and increased Jihadist attacks in Africa indicate (Phase II) increased strength of these "Al Qaeda affiliates".
Because of the three level structure and rhizomatic dynamics Al Shabaab and Boko Haram are able to maintain a capacity to shape events, keep the initiative, increase the level of Shock and Awe along the time line and achieve an asymmetric edge.
(2011-2013) Al Qaeda purged and took control of Al Shabaab and Boko Haram. Today both are high value terror organisations with regional and international capabilities and must be considered most advanced, well prepared, disciplined and solid financed terror organizations in 50 years. Very effective!
Domestic the immediate goal is to replace secular (Christian led) governments with a Muslim leadership that promotes the sharia in the greater Khalifat.
Regional the long term goal to establish a Sharia-based theocracy’s in (large parts of) Africa.
International new affiliates align itself with the Al Qaeda Value Pyramid. And in order to be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) which confirms its enemies are not only local or regional but international, the common strategic move is, not recognizing the borders of Sykes-Picot nor the rulers whom colonialism put in place and declaring openhostility to America, Britain, Israel, and “Crusader Christians”.
The African connections are not “the usual suspects” but “key players” in Africa’s infrastructure, finance and security.
However starting 2008 Intelligence surveillance sources report suspect and criminal activities that reveal the purpose of some the younger generations of Africa’s upper class.
Criminal activities (not limited to):
- (July 2008) money laundering between Europe and South Africa,
- forgery of official government documents,
- Nigerian 419 advance fee fraud, scamming business people around the globe via theNigerian Diaspora,
- trade in airline tickets paid for with organised credit card fraud in the Somali Diaspora,
- (July 2008) drugs trafficking from Mexico to Nigeria, Morocco, Spain/Europe and South Africa,
- assisted by a Sheikh in the UAE, the arms trade with Al Shabaab and the Muslim Janjaweed rebel group from Sudan,
- (August 2008) human trafficking and high end prostitution of fashion models.
Suspect activities (not limited to):
- (June 2008) secret meetings with several Somali and Sudanese imams of Al-Furqan Mosques/centers in Europe. Not knowing that the mosques and imam’s were under permanent surveillance of the intelligence services due to suspicion of funding of Al Shabaab in Somalia and Sudan,
- receiving unusual money transfers with a Somali origin,
- the suspicion is that suspects are until this day involved in arms trade with Al Shabaab and the Muslim Janjaweed rebel group from Sudan.
Further Intelligence surveillance started in 2009 was instigated by intercepted communications in July 2009 and the suspicious events and activities during the summer of 2008.
Long term, Al Qaeda has a dualistic and holistic strategy with the development and deployment of instruments like Boko Haram and Al Shabaab, which are currently its finest in Africa. It introduced best practices and cost efficiency for international attacks by combining services of independent providers and to attain its goals it trades support, resources or action with other cross border criminal organisations.
The opponents of Al Qaeda African affiliates are preferably Western ones from countries that they fight in their homeland. Those opponents are represented by the UN, ADB, World bank, IFC, and foreign investors in general, with a significant financial and expat presence in Africa’s 'Magnificent 5'.
Al Qaeda’s global strategy Value Pyramid bridges continents with ‘Motivation by events’. Al Qaeda wants to cultivate support in ‘for example’ Brazil and South Koreawhere Muslims are a small ‘peaceful’ minority and the security services do not expect a threat on their soil, it attacks the interests and expats from those countries to trigger country wide reactions about and among ‘peaceful’ Muslims. With as side effects that more people “who seek to understand” flock to the religion and a growing support for extremists.
Uganda is, because of its connections with the US under the Bush administration, the leading country in Africa’s 'Magnificent 5' ; Uganda, Kenya. Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Short term “the Magnificent 5” countries are targeted by Al Qaeda affiliates but also considered hubs to expedite Al Qaeda’s long term global strategy on other continents.
October 2011, Ultrascan-HUMINT received reports that instigated a surveillance program during 2012/2013. The surveillance recorded preparations for attacks in “the Magnificent 5” countries.
October 2013, the preparations for attacks in Rwanda and Uganda, show a similar Value Pyramid that is befitting the time-line of the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Note: (2009) Al Haramain has growing presence in the 'Magnificent 5' countries, not only in Kenya's, Garissa and Dadaab !