IS calls for jihadist migration to Africa in new media campaign
Islamic State media outlet al-Naba has called for increased jihadist migration to Africa, in a move to shore up support in areas of Africa south of the Sahara held by the extremist group.
The weekly newsletter, published on Thursday, said that "the scenes we see today in Africa are the same we saw yesterday in Syria and Iraq", and called for an expansion of ISWAP (Islamic State West African Province) control in the entire region.
A newly published propaganda video also shows religious police patrolling areas supposedly under IS control, loyalist members performing ‘outreach’ activities and attempting to show functional governance structures.
According to Jihadi media experts, the official call to make ‘hijrah’ - migration and permanent settlement - has rarely been made since the Islamic State jihadist group lost the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria.
“The key message IS delivers is that as soon as it takes control of territory, no matter where and how small, it rushes to fully implement Sharia,” tweeted jihadism specialist Mina al-Lami.
Al-Lami said the media campaign also seeks to appeal to locals, reassuring them that ISWAP militants are there to “protect” rather than harm them.
In the recent video, an unnamed militant says “O Muslims, we came to support you. We do not aim to spill your blood, but to protect. Your blood, money and honour are forbidden to us… So rejoice, for today you have men who are dedicated to defending you”.
Despite claims of moderation, ISWAP has shown little mercy in killing civilians accused of “spying” or belonging to the Christian faith.
The video is narrated mainly in Hausa with Arabic subtitles, the language predominantly spoken in northern Nigeria.
A 13-year Islamist extremist insurgency has killed 40,000 people and displaced two million in north-eastern Nigeria, according to the United Nations.
Nigeria's Boko Haram and its dissident branch, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have also carried out deadly attacks against security forces and civilians in northern Cameroon, as well as adjacent parts of Nigeria, Niger and Chad.
However, improved military coordination between sub-Saharan countries has placed IS expansion on hold in recent months.
A multinational force with troops from all four countries last week said it had killed over 800 jihadists in about two months in the volatile Lake Chad region.