Jihad Comes to Africa
Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and other ruthless groups threaten to turn the continent into global jihad’s deadliest frontBy Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ
Feb. 5, 2016 12:23 p.m. ET
Africa’s Muslim belt is getting bloodier.
Boko Haram—the regional affiliate of Islamic State and one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups—has accelerated its campaign of almost daily suicide bombings. Just last month, the group massacred 86 people, many of them children, in the Nigerian village of Dalori and 32 others in the Cameroonian village of Bodo.
To the west, al Qaeda’s regional franchise has been waging war on the government of Mali and expanded its reach last month to the previously peaceful country of Burkina Faso, slaying at least 30 people—many of them Westerners—in an assault on a luxury hotel. In the east, another al Qaeda affiliate, Somalia’s al-Shabaab, overran an African Union military base three weeks ago and slaughtered more than 100 Kenyan troops.
Sub-Saharan Africa was long seen as relatively immune to the call of Islamist militancy because of its unorthodox religious practices—rooted in Sufism, a more mystical mode of Islam that focuses on individual spirituality—and its traditional cultures, which are far removed from strict Middle Eastern ways. Today the area has become the fastest-growing front of global jihad—and perhaps its deadliest.