Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African nations may be the next staging ground for the mixture of extremist Islam and terrorism, reports the Village Voice (Jan. 8-14).
“Africa’s widespread political unrest and economic instability have made many of its countries candidates for the next Afghanistan,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates. Strong Christian-Muslim violence found in Nigeria AND Sudan as well as a smoldering anti-Americanism may have helped radicalize Islam in these nations, and it may be the case that terrorists will use Islam as an entrance to these countries.
It is not unusual to see Osama Bin Laden posters in some African strongholds of Islam. Earlier Al Qaeda attacks in Tanzania and Kenya as well as new reports that Al Queda lieutenants took refuge in Liberia and Burkina FasoIt following these incidents all point to this region as a potential terrorism hot spot.
Patrick Gaffney, an anthropologist at Notre Dame University, counters that while these countries may be like Afghanistan in their chaotic structures, there are not the same religious parallels. He notes that extremist Islam has not gained the same sort of support in Sub-Saharan Africa as in the Middle East. But Coates writes that the terrorist network Al Qaeda may “care less about religious identity than the bottom line.”
African countries such as Liberia, for instance, have become safe havens for criminals — often through bribing officials and leaders — and potentially for more terrorists.