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Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)
ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA)
ISIS West Africa
ISIS West Africa Province
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria West Africa Province
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-West Africa (ISIL-WA)

ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) was designated as a FTO on February 28, 2018. In March 2015, a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message. ISIS accepted the group’s pledge and the group began calling itself ISIS-West Africa. ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, maintains camps on islands in Lake Chad – where Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad meet – and the area is known to be the group’s bastion. In August 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to become the new leader of ISIS-WA. ISIS-WA has an estimated 3,500 members. ISIS-WA operates in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. ISIS-WA receives funding from local sources, the capture of military supplies, taxes, and kidnapping-for-ransom payments.

ISWAP's popularity is growing not only because it avoids targeting civilians. The jihadists try to offer the population public services in areas where the state is largely absent. The grievances centered around inequality, poverty, segregation, around a political structure that does not allow the population to participate in government, are real. They will go on being exploited by ISWAP for recruitment and targeting.

In April 2015 part of Boko Harram publicly pledged allegiance to ISIS leadership, and announced its new name as Islamic State's West African Province. The first indications of the ISIS-Boko Haram relationship could be seen in the latter's propaganda, which had been typically poor. Over several months, Boko Haram's propaganda became significantly better, showing multiple signs of ISIS's influence. ISIS likely sent a team to Nigeria to improve Boko Haram's media capabilities and to negotiate the alliance.

Through mid-2014, the Islamic State was focused on recruiting foreigners for its battles in Iraq and Syria. Since then, the group increasingly called for foreign fighters to join its cause in African hotspots. When announcing its merger with Boko Haram, for example, the Islamic State's spokesman specifically called on new recruits to join the ``caliphate'' in West Africa if they could not make the trip to the heart of the Middle East or elsewhere. "All Muslims, you should all come to your State, for we are calling on you to mobilize for jihad," ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani said in March 2015. He continued: "We incite you and call upon you to immigrate for jihad and to immigrate to your brothers in West Africa."

But in the 2 weeks after it was accepted into the Islamic State's fold, Boko Haram, or Wilayat al Sudan al Gharbi (Islamic State Province in the Land of the Blacks) or the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) as it started to style itself, lost control of most of the towns and other areas that it was holding, with Gwoza, the headquarters of Abubakar Shekau's aspiring Islamic state, being retaken by Nigerian troops on the very eve of the country's national elections.

Acting under the authority of and in accordance with section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001, as amended by Executive Order 13268 of July 2, 2002, and Executive Order 13284 of January 23, 2003, on September 13, 2017 Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, determined that the entity known as ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA), also known as ISIS West Africa, also known as ISIS West Africa Province, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria West Africa Province, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-West Africa (ISIL-WA), also known as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

Consistent with the determination in section 10 of Executive Order 13224 that prior notice to persons determined to be subject to the Order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States would render ineffectual the blocking and other measures authorized in the Order because of the ability to transfer funds instantaneously, I determine that no prior notice needs to be provided to any person subject to this determination who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, because to do so would render ineffectual the measures authorized in the Order.

ISIS-WA has been responsible for numerous attacks in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region since 2016. In January 2017, ISIS-WA conducted a midnight attack against Nigerian troops in the village of Kamuya resulting in the death of three Nigerian soldiers. In February 2018, ISIS-WA abducted a Christian student in Nigeria and in March kidnapped three aid workers during an attack that killed dozens of other people. ISIS-WA killed one of the three aid workers in September and another in October. In November, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for five attacks in Chad and Nigeria that resulted in 118 deaths. Throughout 2018, ISIS-WA was involved in numerous attacks on Nigerian army bases.

The most successful ISIL affiliate during late 2019 was Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Lake Chad Basin, which maintained a high tempo of attacks and gathered significant arms, materiel and other supplies from raids on Nigerian security forces, and strengthened its links to Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). The State Department designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization in November 2013. This was more than 2 years after the group conducted its first attack against a Western interest.

By the end of 2019 Boko Haram in northwest Nigeria was resurgent, after losing most of its territory five years earlier. And its splinter group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), had conquered hundreds of square miles and frequently overruns Nigerian military bases. ISWAP continued to operate with a high degree of success during 2019, including by conducting raids on security forces, which yielded significant war spoils in the form of materiel and other supplies. It is reported to have an unspecified number of foreign terrorist fighters, possibly of Chadian, Libyan or other North African origin. It has outstripped Abubakar Mohammed Shekau’s (QDi.322) faction of Boko Haram, in terms of both capability and number of fighters (up to 5,000 for ISWAP compared with estimates of 500 to 2,000 for Shekau’s faction). Member States attribute this partly to the continuing benefits of association with and support from the ISIL core. Nevertheless, both groups are perceived by Member States in the region as a menace, one with particularly adverse effects on Cameroon, Chad and the Niger.

Government troops and hundreds of residents have been forced to flee after an armed group overran a town and captured a military base in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state in an attack claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group. Machinegun-wielding fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked the base in the town of Marte in the Lake Chad area overnight on 15 January 2021. The town, 130km (80 miles) from the regional capital Maiduguri, was once considered the breadbasket of the Lake Chad region. A week earlier, the fighters attacked the Marte base but were repelled, prompting them to mobilise more fighters for the overnight raid. The raid was seen as a “fightback” after recent losses – troops recently overran ISWAP’s second-largest camp in Talala village.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2021 17:49:00 ZULU