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Amid Afghanistan Withdrawal, America Quietly Expands Counter-Terrorism Activities Against Jihadists in Kenya, Mozambique, and DR Congo
As America exits its 20-year war in Afghanistan, it is simultaneously increasing its counter-terrorism presence in Kenya, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Contrary to various media claims about the War on Terror ‘winding down,’ the United States is actively involved, to varying degrees, in counter-insurgency operations against jihadist groups in numerous countries spanning multiple continents.
US President Joe Biden recently approved the deployment of special operations forces to Kenya to help counter the increase in al-Shabaab militant activity in the country’s northeastern and coastal regions. The number of personnel being sent to bolster counter-terrorism efforts have not been disclosed, however, according to a report by the Jamestown Foundation “the troops will conduct counterterrorism operations, as well as advise, assist, and accompany Kenyan troops on their operations.” In addition to this, the Biden administration has recently resumed airstrikes against al-Shabaab targets in Somalia.
The Islamic State Central Africa Province’s (ISCAP) transnational network includes militant branches in Mozambique and the Congo (as well as a presence in Somalia and operatives elsewhere) — both of which have drawn an increased level of attention recently that is reflected in the international response to ISCAP activity.
In Mozambique, Islamist insurgents have been waging an intensive campaign against government forces and private military contractors in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. The deteriorating security environment recently moved a number of African and Western nations to intervene with the permission of the Mozambican government.
The US has provided multifaceted support to Mozambique in its war efforts against Islamic State insurgents, including through Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) military programs. In March, the US launched a campaign with the express purpose to “support Mozambique’s efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.” The US Embassy in Mozambique recently released a statement explaining how the “training program doubled in size in just four months” and that the latest JCET (began on August 9th) will consist of US Special Operations Forces training “more than 100 Mozambican commandos and rangers to improve capabilities on the battlefield.”
On August 15th, DR Congo President Felix Tshikedi authorized the deployment of American special forces to assist the Congolese army in their fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militant group with links to the Islamic State. At least some faction of the organization is considered part of the Islamic State Central Africa Province. The US mission is initially set to last multiple weeks and is focused on countering ADF activity in the national parks of Virunga and Garamba. Leaving the door open for further involvement, US Ambassador Mike Hammer stated that American forces will “conduct an assessment of a future Congolese counter-terrorism team.”
(Photo Source: @war_noir)