German radio station BR24 devoted a detailed article to the presence of terrorist groups in Africa, as well as their Internet propaganda and recruitment methods in areas of instability, particularly in Polisario camps in Algeria’s southwestern province of Tindouf.
Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda have “an easy time” in the Tindouf camps, stresses the media under the headline “Terrorist groups in Africa: A breeding ground for attacks in Europe?”.
Islamist groups “have a strong presence in Africa and recruit in huge refugee camps. They use conflicts for their Internet propaganda, which reaches as far as Bavaria,” it pointed out.
Co-authors Sabrina Wolf and Joseph Röhmel cite the case of Ismaïl, a 38-year-old stateless Polisario supporter. The latter was sentenced in May by the National Court of Justice in Madrid to two years’ imprisonment and five years’ probation for “radicalization”, they add, noting that an entire network had been built around Ismaïl, to promote the jihad espoused by the Islamic State.
Spanish media had revealed that Ismail (whose real name is Monni Ahmed Merhaba) had, in the weeks leading up to his arrest, published daily calls for jihad and martyrdom in videos he had created himself and distributed via various mobile applications.
He had also expressed his support for the Islamic State and his hatred of Spain, which he described as “a land of miscreants”.
Spanish investigators had revealed the close links of Ismaïl, who was close to Abu Walid, the former leader of the IS and member of the “polisario”, with other IS supporters and unveiled a network of dozens of “polisario” members in the Tindouf camps, who played a role in the Islamic State’s activities in the Sahara and Sahel.
Investigations had also revealed, from the Facebook account of Ismaïl and his many friends, strong support for the “polisario”, which controls the Tindouf camps, increasingly infested by extremist jihadist ideology.
The German media quotes several experts, including Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director of the Counter Extremism Project, an international non-profit organization that monitors and evaluates the propaganda of terrorist groups in Africa.
“Africa is increasingly becoming a hotspot for Islamist terrorism, and attacks could be launched from there,” he noted, adding that it is still possible “to instrumentalize people from conflict regions in Europe, radicalize them and possibly motivate them to commit attacks.”
The Spanish authorities and an organization of former intelligence officers have analyzed the propaganda network centered around Ismail, noting that all leads to Syria, Spain and the Tindouf camps in Algeria, reports BR24.
According to former intelligence officers approached by the German radio station, most of the network’s Facebook accounts are not public: “Communication is very limited, which means they only use their Facebook accounts to connect with each other. Then they switch to the Telegram messaging service or other means of communication.”
During Ismaïl’s trial, it emerged that he was also using a German phone number to mask his identity, the article states.
“One thing is certain: the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution observes that Africa plays a central role in propaganda”, the media outlet notes, pointing out that the Islamic State declared Africa “as a zone of emigration and Jihad” in its online magazine ‘al-Naba’ of June 16, 2022″.