A woman is comforted by friends after a ship carrying more than 1,000 people fleeing an attack claimed by Islamic State-linked insurgents on the town of Palma, docks in Pemba, Mozambique, April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Emidio Jozine NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

April 19, 2021

Why Experts Ignore Terrorism in Africa

Originally published in Foreign Policy

In Western policy circles, Salafi-jihadi insurgencies in African countries get short shrift. A combination of political burnout, competing priorities, and policy hurdles is preventing policymakers from seeing the threat clearly or thinking cogently about what to do about it.

A case in point is last month’s grim news from Mozambique, where Islamic State attackers overran the town of Palma, killing dozens—including 12 possible foreigners who were found beheaded. The bloodshed was largely ignored in the United States and Europe, but it shouldn’t have been. It is the latest advance in a multicountry war that is destroying lives and livelihoods across the continent.

The foreign-policy community has spilled gallons of ink trying to convince itself and others that its concerns for Africa are real. The cause has even driven all-too-rare bipartisanship in the United States, with Republicans and Democrats coming together on a series of public health and economic development initiatives in recent years. So why is the response to the Mozambique crisis and other similar attacks so limited? Because all the major constituencies focused on the continent have a blind spot when it comes to the violent extremist insurgents who are preying on millions of Africans.

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