The United States of America has signalled Nigeria that the Al-Qaeda Islamic terrorist group is beginning to make in roads into the country.
The Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, Dagvin Anderson, who disclosed this during a briefing, said the group is also expanding to other parts of West Africa.
In a statement obtained from the US Department of State, Anderson reiterated the US’ commitment to continue sharing intelligence with Nigeria.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.”
Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there have been setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.”
“I think there’s two factors in that. One, it goes to that each government has to focus on this and provide that focus for international partners to engage with,” the US general said.
“The other part of this is we can’t underestimate the threat these violent extremist organisations pose. We, as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.“
“I think after 20 years we have seen they are very resilient organisations that, although small, they’re able to leverage social media and other forms of media to have an outsized voice and that they continue to recruit and they continue to find opportunities.”
Anderson said that the government must take the lead in the fight against terrorism, if international efforts are to yield any desired results in this fight.
Soldiers in training.
“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realize that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.
“For that to have an effect against the VEOs and to have an effect against these stressors, it really takes the Government of Nigeria to lead that effort and to build that energy to coalesce around.”
The US helps in training African Soldiers too.
“So no nation can come in and fix that problem for Nigeria. We can assist with that – and it’s the United States can assist, the United Kingdom, other countries can come in, many countries can come and assist with that partnership – but ultimately it takes leadership from Nigeria in order for us to focus our efforts.”
Anderson is the Commander, Special Operations Command Africa, headquartered at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. In this role, Maj. Gen. Anderson is responsible for the full spectrum of special operations activities conducted throughout Africa and leads more than 1,700 U.S. military, interagency and international military personnel operating in 27 countries throughout Africa and Europe.