North Africa – Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is benefiting from the turmoil in Africa and is stepping up its multi-media campaign using Twitter and Facebook to spread its ideology. It is also attempting to show others that it is a partner in the Arab Spring but is attempting to unite other terrorist groups in different countries such as Syria and Iraq. If this is the case, then the organisation will probably carryout more attacks in the future in order to post them on social media and show that they are still a strong force and are leading the fight against those who oppose them. Egypt – Over the last few weeks Egypt has been in turmoil over who should run the country. Whilst the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was elected, the people of Egypt did not believe that their choice of government was the correct one and took to the streets to protest. The Egyptian army refused to allow the country to deteriorate and stepped in arresting the elected President Morsi and others who were in the government. There have been many clashes which have resulted in Egyptian deaths from supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who have vowed to reinstate their elected president whatever it takes. The security situation in Egypt remains tense and it is likely to be so for the forthcoming future. Those that opposed the elected government see the intervention of the army as those who support their cause. At the moment, is difficult to assess whether the army is on anyone’s side as they have not showed their intentions. Whilst the MB have been arrested and kept at a location it could be seen that they are protecting them for their own good. The supporters, however, see the army intervention as being on their side and supporting those that oppose the previously elected government. At the moment the future looks grim and the aggression shown will no doubt bring it to the attention of terrorist groups who see the MB as the true way for Egypt to follow and possibly start to attack those members, thus adding to the confusion and disorder that the country is experiencing. Iran, who during this year, allowed various people to meet with the MB and offer special intelligence units will now be unsure which way to go having lost what was probably seen as a favorable ally. They had already spoken out about the military intervention by stating that the free election result should stand; this being strange from a country that has no ‘free’ elections and manipulates its own candidates to suit its own purposes. From the other side, the Saudi government seems to be in favor of the overthrow and it maybe in time that they will support the opposition, especially if Iranian influence appears. The worst case scenario would be a slide into a lawlessness environment and appearance of armed rebels not dissimilar to the start of the Syrian conflict. Either way the Egyptian revolution still has a long way to go. It would be easy thinking to believe that it will end in a peaceful solution, but that may be wishful thinking, especially when the followers of MB continue to conduct demonstrations. Egypt may show other countries that underwent the Arab Spring that if they are not happy with the outcome it is possible to demonstrate again to get what they want. Many youngsters of teenage years want a better life and not one that has been dictated to them from those who are out of touch with a much younger generation. Those parties who want to be elected and stand for high-value Islamic beliefs may not be that answer and find themselves being placed at the bottom when it comes to more liberal Islamists who wish for a better future without the input of high religious beliefs.
Jihadists in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula are taking advantage of the unrest in Egypt and have launched attacks against the security forces in the area. Within two days of the former President Morsi being ousted, Islamic militants launched coordinated attacks using mortars, RPG’s and anti-aircraft guns on el-Arish airport where military aircraft are stationed. This was a bold move and the militants were probably hoping that through the unrest they would be able to take advantage and carryout a huge propaganda attack. Unless the country is able to stabilize itself then attacks of this nature will become common. The use of military and police uniforms will also become a common feature as those dressed in this guise will be able to move around more freely.
On July 6, the Long War Journal wrote that there was a possibility that the formation of a new terrorist group in Egypt. “Ansar al-Sharia in Egypt” has been formed as a result of the unrest in Egypt. The site mentioned that it was unsure if this was an actual new group or that a group by a similar name had opened a new front. Currently the organisation Ansar al-Sharia has fronts in Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Mauritania and Morocco. The reason that the new group/front has happened is due to the arrest of the former president Morsi and the involvement of the security services in his arrest and detention. There is already a group of the same name operating in Egypt whose members are thought to be from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). The group has been linked to al-Qaeda in the past and was run by Aymen al-Zawahiri. Although the information is not very clear at the moment time will tell whether this is a new group or an old one opening up a new front in support of the former president.
Nigeria – Terrorists killed twenty-seven students and a teacher in the northeast town of Potiskum in the state of Yobe. The insurgents set fire to the Mamudo boarding school and shot the students as they fled the burning building. Although no-one has claimed responsibility, it is probably the work of Boko Harem (BH) who are against western teachings and are currently undergoing a huge operation against them by Nigerian Security Forces. This attack is an attempt to show its followers that although the government are carrying out anti-terrorist operations, they, BH, are still in a position to conduct their own fight, which shows its supporters that the government are not in control.
Somalia – Members of the Security Forces were killed when a military vehicle exploded in Mogadishu on July 9. The African-Union had expelled al-Shabab from the city in 2011, but in previous years attacks by this terrorist group have surged during the Holy month of Ramadan. If the past is anything to go by then attacks by this group will intensify during the fasting month.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst