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Senegalese soldiers take part in the opening ceremony of Flintlock, an annual military exercise that focuses on counterterrorism training by American and European security forces, Thies, Senegal, Feb. 8, 2016 (AP photo by Jane Hahn).

How Has Senegal Shielded Itself From West Africa’s Islamist Extremists?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Islamist extremist groups that were once confined to slivers of territory in the most marginalized areas of West Africa are increasingly expanding their operational footprint in the region. Whether it is Boko Haram, which has rebranded itself as the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s West African affiliate, or the myriad al-Qaida offshoots that occupied northern Mali following a coup in 2012, insurgent operations are no longer confined by these groups’ countries of origin.

The Islamic State’s West Africa Province, as Boko Haram now calls itself, has spread beyond its base in northeastern Nigeria into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, which all have borders near the dwindling waters of Lake Chad. Al-Qaida’s various branches in Mali, meanwhile, first expanded their presence from the country’s desert north into its more populous center, before encroaching last year on neighboring Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, which had been relatively free of attacks from Islamist extremists. ...

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