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Generational Warfare in the Sahel: The Khilafa Cubs and the Dynamics of Violent Insurgency within the Islamic State Province

Guillaume Soto-Mayor

/ Analysis

The prevailing political and security tumult currently besetting the Sahel region affords an opportunity for the Islamic State to extend its operational reach and territorial dominion. Over recent weeks, numerous soldiers in Niger have lost their lives due to ambushes and assaults orchestrated by the Islamic State in the Sahel region. The group has also carried out fatal assaults on civilian populations, leading to hundreds of casualties across Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali in recent years and forcibly displacing a total of 89,200 individuals within the timeframe spanning from March 2022 to May 2023. Over recent months, the Islamic State in the Sahel (ISS) province has notably fortified its grasp upon an expansive corridor that stretches from the eastern reaches of the Tahoua region in Niger to the western expanse of the Liptako-Gourma region at the tri-border area between Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. The ISS appears to be an essential governing force on a territory encompassing a plethora of small towns and rural hinterlands within the Tillaberi region of Niger, as well as the Menaka and Gao regions of Mali. Disturbingly, local accounts attest to the necessity for civilians to, in one manner or another, acquiesce to the demands of the Islamic State to secure their survival. For the past decade, Africa has stood as a region of paramount strategic import for the Islamic State, both during and in the aftermath of the tenure of its initial leader, Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi. The Islamic State (IS) has consistently funneled financial and technical support towards a multitude of affiliated groups dispersed throughout the African continent, encompassing territories in East, Central, and West Africa. Terrorist and violent extremist groups' threats across the continent is escalating. Affiliates linked to the Islamic State have gradually transformed into independent provinces (wilayas) that emulate their parent organization's methods and governance models, with particular emphasis on their recruitment and exploitation of child soldiers.

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Shaping Futures

@2023 CRTG Working Group

New York City

Working Group on Children Recruited 

by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups Corp. 

EIN 30:1232924

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