The rise of the terrorist Muslim group, ISIS, also known as IS and ISIL appears to be spreading into northern Africa and serious concerns is rising within the U.S. government and intelligence agencies, the Washington Times reported on Thursday. While ISIS has been working on creating a caliphate across Syria and Iraq, IS is creating problems where affiliated militants are wreaking havoc in eastern Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Guy Taylor of the Washington Times said that through its use of social media and popular production of recruitment videos, ISIS is attracting a growing number of individual jihadis to its harsh interpretation of Islamic, or Shariah, law… and that the militants are imitating ISIL’s rhetoric and brutality among the people in the region to achieve that goal.
A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Taylor, “ISIL’s stated goal of expanding its caliphate and its adherence to a strict form of Shariah has definitely resonated with a collection of extremists across North Africa, who appear to be mimicking ISIL’s rhetoric and brutality.” The U.S. intelligence official also stated that the U.S. intelligence community regards the Islamic State as the world’s most violent terrorist organization, and officials say its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, sees himself as a kind of Osama bin Laden figure. Taylor stated that what remains to be seen are whether the region will face a surge of unbridled Islamic State-style violence, including beheadings. Counter-terrorism analysts say there is little doubt of that… especially in Libya, where the government is under threat of being overrun by militants, and in Egypt, where the military has struggled to contain Sinai extremists for years.
The rise of ISIS and their tactics are far more aggressive, brutal, and dangerous than Al-Qaeda was during the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. In September 2014, the Hamilton Spectator (HS) reported and outlined eleven reasons why ISIS is more dangerous than Al-Qaeda. A few of the reasons in the HS report was that ISIS is more media sophisticated than Al-Qaeda and does very well in using social media as a tool of terrorism and are also well-funded unlike Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, ISIS is the most heavily armed Islamist extremist group in history, having captured huge amounts of military weapons and equipment in Iraq and Syria.
The brutality and the rise of ISIS in Africa does not surprise Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. Joscelyn told Taylor, “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Islamic State is going to commit and claim responsibility for an increasing number of attacks in North Africa, both in Libya and in the Sinai during the year ahead. But it’s not yet clear how it’s going to play out… Mr. Joscelyn said. “If they go in the direction of more horror killings the way the Islamic State is doing in Syria and Iraq, they may go after Christians and others, and that could end up triggering sectarian violence in Egypt. But that remains to be seen.”