The continent of Africa is significantly larger than most people realize. At over 11 million square miles, it’s the second biggest continental landmass. And with over a billion people, there is a lot going on. It’s the most impoverished continent on Earth and has been for quite a while. All these things combine to make it an extremely dangerous place. Throw in some unstable corrupt governments and long-lasting civil wars, and the continent is a prime target for terrorists. I will now list our top 10 active terrorist groups in Africa. Most people have only ever heard of Boko Haram. But there are many more brutal terrorist groups in Africa.
Al-Shabaab may sound like a local curry house but it’s actually one of the most brutal terrorist groups in Africa. It was founded in 2006 when various fringe militant groups came together in the hope of gaining territory in Somalia. The went on to achieve this goal, capturing rural areas in both Somalia and Yemen. The name Al-Shabaab basically means “Party of the young” – which is kinda weird seeing as their leaders tend to be middle-aged. In recent years they have been driven away from most of their urban territory and basically just hide in the countryside now. They are estimated to have at least 7 thousand members so it’s expected that they will attempt to recapture their lost territory.
Ansar al-Sharia is actually 2 different terrorist groups who are close allies. One in Tunisia, and one in Libya. The Tunisian group has around 1 thousand members who have capitalised pretty well on the chaos of the Arab spring. But Tunisia fared a lot better than Libya did during the Arab revolution. Perhaps this is why the Libyan group is so much more successful. With over 4 thousand members, they are currently playing a big role in the Libyan civil war and were behind the Benghazi attack a few years ago. As one of the most active terrorist groups in Africa they are notorious for forbidding people to take part in democratic elections. They claim democracy is inherently anti-Islamic and people who participate in it will be judged as their enemies.
Lord’s Resistance Army
The Lord’s Resistance Army is essentially just a Christian cult in Uganda. But their extreme conviction the the 10 commandments has led them to becoming one of the most feared terrorist groups in Africa. They are led by Joseph Kony, who gained international infamy back in 2011 after an insane film maker brought his crimes to light. He is noted for his use of child soldiers and for brutally murdering thousands. Another fun fact is that he has over 70 children. The insane film maker was eventually arrested for public masturbation. But Kony is still at large. The Lord’s Resistance Army is known to have been involved in mass murder, abduction, and rape. So they really don’t follow the teachings of Jesus at all.
Movement for Oneness and Jihad
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa is a terrorist organisation with the sole aim of spreading Jihad throughout Western-Africa. So they’re scum. They were originally part of Al-Qaeda, but split from them in 2011. Terrorist groups in Africa seem to love a bit of drama. They’re constantly joining other extremist groups and breaking up with other extremist groups. The movement for oneness and Jihad mostly just cause minor trouble in Mali and Southern Algeria. They really aren’t much of a threat to anyone. But they have been involved in several battles with the unrecognised North-African state of Azawad. It’s terrorists fighting terrorists!
Al-Qaeda operate heavily in Africa and have done for quite a while. Al-Qaeda is sort of like an umbrella organisation with dozens of small factions all over the world. A number of their factions currently operate in Africa. Most of them have less than 2 thousand members and work within one particular nation and simply try and overthrow it’s government. Al-Qaeda aren’t what they used to be. They’re just a bit of annoying at this point. Over the last 10 years they have gained hundreds of millions of dollars from kidnapping and raids on local settlements. And they are almost impossible to defeat due to their tactics of guerilla fighting and retreating into rural areas.
Ansaru were part of Boko Haram until they split away in 2012. For a while they didn’t receive much attention but they eventually did after they found their niche. Apparently their niche is going to extreme lengths to target people from the western world. They gained international attention by releasing videos in which they announced their plans to kidnap and kill any westerners who come anywhere near their territory. They also randomly attack the Nigerian military for some reason. They once broke into a secure base by use of explosives and kidnapped several foreign hostages. It’s thought that they executed the hostages – because that’s kinda their thing. Most terrorist groups in Africa are involved in kidnapping to some degree, but these guys really seem to love doing it.
Ansar Dine is a very well connected extremist organisation in North-Africa. Not much is known about them. But what we do know about them is beyond worrying. Their numbers are unknown, but thought to be less than 3 thousand. But they are known to be extremely well equipped. Ansar Dine are noted within Mali to have notoriously strong strategic defensive positions and a ton of cars. They have an estimated 100 vehicles, most of which may have been stolen from the Libyan government during the chaos of the Arab spring. Nothing much has been heard from them since 2013 but they remain one of the most feared terrorist groups in Africa.
Abdullah Azzam Brigades
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades sounds like a Saudi boy-scouts group. I consider all boy-scouts to be terrorists, but these guys are really bad! They operate in many countries from Egypt to Pakistan, and was founded by a number of extremists who fought against the soviet Union in Afghanistan. They seem to have been operating in Africa since 2004, when they took part in an attack that resulted in the deaths of over 30 people. They carried out further bombings the next year and shook the whole of North-Africa. They tend to blame their actions on the Iraq war. A lot of terrorist groups in Africa seem to blame their crimes on that war.
al-Itihaad al-Islamiya is one of the many terrorist organisations that capitalised on the chaos and instability in Somalia during the 1990s. Funded by Osama Bin Laden, they had a pretty bloody good shot at creating their own Islamic state in what is now Somalia. They actually managed to capture quite a lot of land, and began running it however they wanted. And you know what that means… Sharia courts!
Who could forget about Boko Haram? They’re the bad-boys of North Africa. They’ve been committing human rights abuses since 2002, but it’s in the last few years that they’ve really ramped it up. In 2015, Boko Haram joined forces with ISIS in the most bizarre merger ever. ISIS don’t join forces with just anyone – Boko Haram needed to prove themselves. And they did so by kidnapping almost 300 schoolgirls and engaging in military conflict that has displaced an estimated 2.3 million people. The name Boko Haram literally means “Western education is forbidden” – which is so odd. You won’t be surprised to hear that they basically just kill anyone who isn’t completely on their side and who doesn’t do as they say. That’s why they are among the most feared terrorist groups in Africa.