Written by 06:04 World

F.B.I. Director Makes Rare Visit to Africa as Terrorism Threat Grows

Christopher A. Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, paid a rare visit to sub-Saharan Africa this week to discuss counterterrorism strategies with regional partners at a time when both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda are gaining momentum on the continent.

Mr. Wray, who met with officials in Kenya and Nigeria, repeated his warning that the United States and its allies worldwide are “operating in a heightened threat environment” that has been energized by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“The main reason for my visit to both countries was to raise awareness about threats on the continent that have serious implications for the U.S. homeland but that don’t get the attention they deserve,” Mr. Wray said in a telephone interview from Nigeria on Friday. “For several years now, groups like ISIS, like Al Qaeda, have considered Africa very fertile ground.”

Indeed, U.S. intelligence officials estimate that Al Shabab in Somalia has roughly 7,000 to 12,000 members and annual income — including from taxing or extorting civilians — of about $120 million, making it the largest and wealthiest Qaeda affiliate in the world.

“Shabab is in many ways one of the most menacing foreign terrorist organizations out there,” Mr. Wray said.

At the same time, groups in West Africa that have declared allegiance to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are on the march. Military coups have toppled civilian-led governments in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger. The new leaders have ordered U.S. and French troops to leave, and in some cases invited Russian mercenaries to take their place.

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Last modified: 16 June 2024
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