By Godsgift Onyedinefu
The United States (US) on Wednesday stated that the terrorists sect, ISIS and al-Qaida have spread broadly across Nigeria with their ability to infiltrate different communities.
The US have repeatedly warned Nigeria on plans by these terrorist groups penetrate the country after suffering some defeat in the middle east.
Only recently Dagvin Anderson, Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, warned of plans to penetrate Southern Nigeria, after confirming that Al-Qaeda has started penetrating the north-western part of the country.
“In terms of the areas that are affected, I would argue that ISIS and al-Qaida are spread quite broadly across Nigeria and West Africa, whether we’re talking about ISIS-West Africa or Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast or ISIS-Greater Sahara or JNIM-type affiliates further west. When we talk about the actual number of individuals, it may be rather limited, a few thousand”, Michael Gonzales, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“But given their operations and their ability to infiltrate in different communities and spread out and collect resources, I would argue that both ISIS and al-Qaida affiliates and members are spread rather broadly across the region”, he added.
Gonzales pointed out that insecurity in West Africa directly affects U.S. interests and poses a threat to it’s values, partners, and citizens.
“Ultimately, it is in the U.S. national interest to ensure that our partners are able to better monitor, detect, and deter the threats that are posed, and when they’re not able to do that and strikes or attacks do happen, it’s in our interest to make sure that they have the capabilities to understand how they happen, to hold those who were responsible to account, and learn from those experiences to make sure that they’re better able to detect and deter in the future”, he said.
Meanwhile, Julie Cabus, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in her opening remarks, informed that the US Department of State last week organized the first-ever West Africa Joint Operations regional exercise to connect counterterrorism investigators with their judicial counterparts in three nations: Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
She said pproximately 80 law enforcement and judiciary officers took part in the exercise.