Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 5 - ISIS-West Africa

Aka Islamic State West Africa Province; ISISWAP; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-West Africa; ISIL-WA; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria West Africa Province; ISIS West Africa Province; ISIS West Africa; ISIS-WA

Description:  ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) was designated as an FTO on February 28, 2018.  In March 2015, a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in an audiotape message.  ISIS accepted the group’s pledge and the group began calling itself ISIS-West Africa.  In August 2016, ISIS announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi was to become the new leader of ISIS-WA.

Activities:  ISIS-WA has been responsible for numerous attacks in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region since 2016.  In January 2017, ISIS-WA conducted a midnight attack against Nigerian troops in the village of Kamuya, killing three Nigerian soldiers.

In February 2018, ISIS-WA abducted a Christian student in Nigeria and in March 2018, the group kidnapped three aid workers during an attack that killed dozens of other people. ISIS-WA killed one of the three aid workers in September 2018 and another in October. In November 2018, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for five attacks in Chad and Nigeria that resulted in 118 deaths.

In February 2019, ISIS-WA attacked the convoy of the then-Governor of Borno State as it drove from the capital of Maiduguri to a town near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, killing as many as 10.  In May 2019, ISIS-WA claimed responsibility for two attacks in western Niger, ambushing Niger Army soldiers in Tongo resulting in 28 deaths, while also attacking Niger security forces near the Koutoukale prison that killed one soldier.

In July 2019, ISIS-WA fighters launched an attack against a military base near Baga in the Lake Chad area, killing 20 Nigerian and five Chadian soldiers.  Also in July, ISIS-WA attacked a convoy of Action Against Hunger (AAH) and Nigerian health ministry employees in Borno.  One AAH driver was killed, while one AAH staff member, two drivers, and three health ministry workers remained missing, reportedly taken as hostages.  On September 25, media reported ISIS-WA said it executed one of the missing aid workers.  On December 13, ISIS-WA said it killed four of the five remaining hostages.  On December 26, ISIS-WA released a video showing the execution of 11 reported Christians and claimed the killings were revenge for the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Strength:  ISIS-WA has an estimated 3,500 members.

Location/Area of Operation:  Nigeria and the greater Lake Chad region

Funding and External Aid:  ISIS-WA receives funding from local sources, the capture of military supplies, taxes, and kidnapping-for-ransom payments.