In 2019, Islamic State lost its last remaining sliver of territory in Syria, and its Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed. These setbacks seemed to herald the Caliphate’s death knell, and many forecast its imminent demise.
About this Event
In 2019, Islamic State lost its last remaining sliver of territory in Syria, and its Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed. These setbacks seemed to herald the Caliphate’s death knell, and many forecast its imminent demise. Yet its affiliates endure, particularly in Africa: nearly all of Islamic State’s affiliates on the continent have reaffirmed their allegiance, attacks have continued in its name, many groups have been reinvigorated, and a new province has emerged.
Why, in Africa, did the two major setbacks of 2019 have so little impact on support for Islamic State? "The Islamic State in Africa" suggests that this puzzle can be explained by the emergence and evolution of the Islamic State’s provinces in Africa, which it calls "sovereign subordinates." By examining the rise and development of nine Islamic State affiliates, the authors show how, having pledged allegiance to IS Central, provinces evolved mostly autonomously, using the IS brand as a means for accrual of power, but, in practice, receiving relatively little if any direction or material support from central command. Given this pattern, IS Central’s relative decline has had little impact on its African affiliates—who are likely to remain committed to the Caliphate’s cause for the foreseeable future.
About the Co-Author
Dr. Jason Warner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and an Associate in the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), also at the United States Military Academy, where he directs the organization’s Africa research activities. His research focuses on terrorism and security in Africa (especially the activities of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Africa, and suicide bombing) and African international relations (especially foreign policymaking and international organizations). Dr. Warner is the co-author of The Islamic State in Africa: Emergence, Evolution, and Future (Hurst 2019, with Ryan Cummings) and co-editor of African Foreign Policies in International Institutions (Palgrave-Macmillan 2018, with Timothy Shaw). He has published in academic journals including Security Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, African Security, Small Wars and Insurgencies, The Journal of Modern African Studies, The Journal of Human Security, and CTC Sentinel, among others. He is also the co-author of two Combating Terrorism Center reports on the demographic and operational profiles of Boko Haram and al-Shabaab’s suicide bombers. His work has been cited in various international outlets, including the BBC, CNN, The Economist, The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Washington Post, among many others.
Dr. Warner holds a Ph.D. in African Studies from Harvard University; an M.A. in Government from Harvard University; an M.A. in African Studies from Yale University; and a B.A. with highest honors in International Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.