Beyond Borno: Islamic State’s Expansion into Southern Nigeria (Jacob Zenn) (February 2024)

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  • Key Takeaways:
  • Although the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) has historically been deeply
    rooted in northeastern Nigeria, recent patterns demonstrate that it is expanding operations
    to the more economically prosperous and majority Christian south.
  • The most plausible explanations for ISWAP’s move south are to “outbid” the rival Sunni
    Muslim Group for Preaching and Jihad (JASDJ); to follow Islamic State (IS) “core” directives
    to attract attention by attacking Christians and other high-profile targets; and to divert
    the Nigerian army’s attention from the north and relieve counterterrorism pressure near
    ISWAP’s main bases.
  • Beyond these heightened risks, ISWAP’s southern expansion threatens U.S. interests in
    Nigeria, Nigeria’s national security, and West African security more broadly