Two thousand miles from Syria, the so-called Islamic State is trying to expand its territory by establishing a branch in what its fighters call the “little emirate”: the war-torn country of Somalia, according to the Washington Post.
Winning ground there won’t be easy. Al-Shabab, a Somali group linked to al-Qaeda, has a long-standing presence in the country at Africa’s eastern edge and has threatened those who join Daesh with death. But that hasn’t stopped a trickle of fighters — likely a few dozen — from switching sides, raising concerns among U.S. officials, who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars of aid in a new Somali government and a regional military campaign against Islamist extremists.
Somalia holds potentially huge rewards for the extremist group: It is a marginally governed nation with the continent’s longest coastline and borders three U.S. allies — Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya.
Daesh has already expanded its footprint well beyond Syria and Iraq, with militants in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria and other countries pledging allegiance to the extremists and their “caliphate”. While the so-called Islamic State’s presence in Somalia appears to be small, its bid for followers there shows its ambitions.