Al Qaeda Thrives Across Weak West African States

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Earlier this year,  The Cipher Brief examined the deteriorating security situation across North Africa, contending that al Qaeda’s regional offshoot, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was poised to wreak havoc and generate further instability throughout the Sahel. Over the past nine months, this appears to have been the case as AQIM has accelerated its operations and stretched its target set into new territories.

Last week, the U.S. evacuated more than 100 Peace Corps volunteers from the West African country of Burkina Faso, which has witnessed an uptick in extremist related activity since January. The announcement came one month after a mid-August terrorist attack on a prominent Turkish café in the Burkina Faso capital city of Ouagadougou left nearly 20 people dead, including foreigners from Kuwait, Canada, France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal, and Turkey. Although no group formally claimed responsibility, the incident bears the hallmark of atrocities carried out by AQIM, which is known for targeting locations frequented by Westerners.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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