In 2019, Islamic State lost its last remaining sliver of territory in Syria, and its Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed. Yet its affiliates endure, particularly in Africa: nearly all of Islamic State’s provinces on the continent have reaffirmed their allegiance, attacks have continued in its name, many groups have been reinvigorated, and a new province has emerged. Why, in Africa, did the two major setbacks of 2019 have so little impact on support for Islamic State? The Islamic State in Africa suggests that this puzzle can be explained by the emergence and evolution of Islamic State’s provinces in Africa, which it calls ‘sovereign subordinates’. By examining the rise and development of nine Islamic State affiliates, we show how, having pledged allegiance to IS Central, affiliates evolved mostly autonomously, using the IS brand as a means for accrual of power, but, in practice, receiving relatively little if any direction or material support from central command. Given this pattern, IS Central’s relative decline has had little impact on its African affiliates—who are likely to remain committed to the Caliphate’s cause for the foreseeable future.
Moderator: Nina Wilén, Director Africa Programme, Egmont Institute
Introductory remarks: Thomas Renard, Director ICCT
Speaker: Jason Warner, Assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences and an associate of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
Participants should register by 07 February.