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North Africa infected with ISIS terrorism.

ISIS supporters in North Africa. (Photo Credit: AP)

ISIS supporters in North Africa. (Photo Credit: AP)

A​ growing number of terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have a North African connection — yet Washington policymakers continue to pay far less attention to the region than is warranted. ISIS and al-Qaeda, by contrast, regard the area as a primary focus of their strategy. North Africa is becoming a new Afghanistan: in large part, a mosaic of failed and failing states, and fertile territory for radical Islamists to gather recruits, train them, and harden them with continuous combat. Once proficient and confident in the art of war, these terrorists carry out attacks around the world.

Across North Africa, radical groups have pledged allegiance to ISIS or al Qaeda. Libya alone is now home to some 5,000 ISIS-aligned terrorists, now fighting in that nation’s second civil war in five years. ISIS-allied groups claimed credit for two massive attacks in Tunisia in 2015. In Algeria, groups allied with al Qaeda or ISIS have kidnapped European tourists, killed Western gas-plant engineers, and planted countless bombs. And just as in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, American officials are largely disengaged as the threat grows. They defend their inaction in North Africa by pointing to Libya, arguing that NATO’s intervention there failed to produce a stable government while sending waves of refugees into Europe. But a more careful assessment of Libya shows that the ensuing devolution into civil war and chaos was not inevitable: True liberal democrats emerged after the fall of Qadhafi, but they required support from the United States and Europe that never arrived. The answer to the problems North Africa faces is neither military intervention nor American isolationism, but rather support for civil society and human and economic development. It would entail a sustained effort to preempt terrorist recruitment by supporting peaceful transitions and vesting the majority populations in the survival of the state.  READ ARTICLE HERE