WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired , 2015) – Terrorist attacks in North Africa and the Sahel reached the “highest annual total in the region in more than a decade,” according to a new report from The Inter-University Center on Terrorism Studies (IUCTS) and the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies released yesterday. The sixth annual report, “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2014,” reveals that terrorist attacks in the region “jumped an alarming 25 percent over 2013’s previous record high” to a total of 289 incidents, representing “a more than 800 percent rise in attacks by AQIM and other extremists in the region since 9/11.”
“The manifold security threats emanating from the Maghreb and Sahel have now been compounded by unrest in Egypt, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and Somalia, in addition to the spillover of jihadists returning from fighting in Syria and Iraq with al-Qa’ida affiliates and the ‘Islamic State’ terrorists,” wrote IUCTS Director and author of the report Dr. Yonah Alexander.
The countries most affected by terrorist attacks in 2014, the annual period covered by the study, were Libya (with 201 incidents), Mali (35), Tunisia (27), and Algeria (22).
“With so much uncertainty and widening challenges, it is imperative that the international community, in particular the West, work diligently with regional authorities to implement and expand security capabilities, as well as political, social, and economic development programs, to generate more effective antidotes to the poisons that are growing threats to the stability, peace, and prosperity of the region,” he added.
The report offered ten tactical recommendations to reverse the situation. Among them: supporting “country-specific reforms and regional programs… as well as efforts to promote human rights, economic development, independent judiciaries, and transparency in governance”; providing “quiet encouragement to Muslim leaders in promoting the practice of a moderate Islam, as well as counter-radicalization programs that limit the appeal of extremist recruiters”; working “to settle intra-regional conflicts that provide openings for extremists… such as the Western Sahara dispute and the problem of refugees in the Polisario-run camps in Algeria”; and collaborating “with the global donor community to ensure that humanitarian aid for the region is not diverted, from this location or elsewhere, for military purposes.”
“This report reaffirms that the terrorist threats so often discussed in the news are unfortunately not isolated to the Middle East,” said Jordan Paul, Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center. “North Africa and the Sahel are vulnerable, and policymakers should pay attention. As the most stable country in the region, Morocco is a strong ally and asset to the United States, and the U.S. should continue to support the Kingdom’s efforts to resolve the Western Sahara crisis and pursue its reform agenda.”