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6/22/2023 Africa (International Christian Concern) ––Africa has become the focal point of global terrorism, according to a UN conference. Approximately 50% of the victims killed by terrorist activity in 2022 are linked to Africa.

Representatives from various UN Member States and counterterrorism partners convened for the 2023 Counter-Terrorism Week at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The UN Assistant Secretary-General stated that “Africa has emerged as the key battleground for terrorism, with a major increase in the number of active groups operating on the continent.” African government officials raised concerns about the growing traction of Islamic extremism on the continent, particularly in the Sahel region. 

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks raised Islamic extremism to international attention, the terrorist threat has been a strategic priority, especially for U.S. national security and foreign policy. After more than 20 years of sustained counter-terrorism operations worldwide, the terrorist threat remains “more ideologically diverse and geographically diffuse,” according to the latest U.S. National Security Strategy. Nonetheless, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 marks a significant change in U.S. policy, if not a de-prioritization hastened by the return of great power competition. 

 During the recent UN conference, the UN Secretary-General stressed that the UN would draft a “New Agenda for Peace with prevention at its heart” that addresses the underlying conditions that cause terrorism, including poverty, discrimination, disaffection, weak infrastructure and institutions, and gross violations of human rights. The keynote speech ended by calling on UN Member States “to intensify our work to create a future without terrorism.” 

The view of the national security and foreign policy elite is sullied by mirror imaging and groupthink that generally leads to an overemphasis on the so-called root causes. While these issues are likely contributing factors, the sources of Islamic extremism are ultimately religious.  The materialistic focus of the modern secular approach insufficiently answers the fundamental “why” question—one with profound metaphysical implications. A shallow answer to the “why” question is the primary reason for the unavailing approach to global counterterrorism initiatives. 

Understanding the nature of the conflict and the sources of enemy conduct is necessary to craft an effective grand strategy.  Regaining that strategic insight—specifically in terms of religious ideology—must be a critical component of any future counter-terrorism initiatives. 

The Christian population in Africa faces an exigent security situation as the capabilities and intentions of terrorist groups expand throughout the continent. Islamic extremism is one of the leading causes of the persecution of Christians worldwide, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).  ICC has reported on multiple incidents, including recent attacks in Uganda, Nigeria, and the DRC, among others. 

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