Islamic State Sahel: IS rebrands in Africa



    Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) has rebranded as Islamic State in the Sahel (ISSP). The change in the name represents a shift in focus from the Sahara to the area of land that connects the Sahara to the tropical subcontinent. It is one of Africa’s and the world’s most volatile regions, in terms of conflict and in terms of humanitarian crises. This region has become a battleground between terrorist groups like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda (AQ). The region has seen a dramatic increase in terror-related deaths between 2007 and 2021, up by 1000%. (Source)

    Key Judgement 1.

    IS-Sahel is highly likely to continue its attacks in the Sahel region in an attempt to consolidate its position in the unstable region bringing them into conflict with Al-Qaeda. (Source)

    • Islamic State is actively looking for a new region in which to create its caliphate. The unstable nature of the Sahel represents an opportunity for them to gain new ground and territory. (Source)

    • The conflict with AQ in the region will cause more pain for the tribes of the Sahel. (Source)

    • As a result, ISSP will continue to inflict terror in this region as it looks to cement its position once again as a global jihadi force.

    Key Judgment 2.

    The continued humanitarian crisis in the Sahel makes this an ideal ground for recruitment for ISSP.

    • The humanitarian crisis in the region continues to worsen. Those most affected will look for means by which they can be supported. As seen in Iraq and Syria in the 2010s. Those marginalised and seeking security by governments are highly likely to support such insurgent groups in an attempt to survive. (Source)

    • Infighting amongst local farmers and cattle herders will add to the ability of the ISSP to target marginalised tribes and gain new recruits as the need for any form of security in the border regions grows.

    • This is an ideal time for a recruitment drive for the newly named Islamic State in the Sahel. If they can provide people with food and means of survival their numbers are likely to grow.

    Key Judgment 3.

    It is highly likely the withdrawal of French forces in Mali will bolster the resolve of the IS-Sahel in the pursuit of their aims. (Source)

    • On February 17th 2022, France announced its withdrawal from Mali. As a result of a breakdown in relations with the ruling junta. France had been in command of the international community’s counterinsurgency operations in the region. Leaving a vacuum of military power. The talk of a new deployment of French forces has yet to yield a solid date for redeployment. (Source)

    • As a result withdrawal from terrorist activity in the region has increased with only local governments fighting these violent extremist groups. Especially given that Mali and Burkina Faso officials were excluded from the latest talks on re-deployment. This will lead to these countries being at greater risk from ISSP attacks.

    • Therefore, the likelihood of ISSP achieving its strategic aims is increased as they will not be battling western state powers in the Sahel.
    Bobby Payne
    Bobby Payne
    Bobby has ten years experience in contracts management and business ownership. He is an alumni of the University of East Anglia where he studied history, focussing on Spanish colonisation. He is currently studying MA Intelligence and Security Studies at Brunel University. His research focus is on terrorism and geopolitics.

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