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GWOT: A Giant Game of Whack-a-Mole

Driven out of some countries, jihadis are setting up shop in new ones, the FT reports:

Regional security and intelligence sources in east Africa say that, as they have come under pressure from a UN-led African force, hundreds of foreign fighters with Somali militant group al-Shabaab have headed north into Yemen and south to Kenya—where there have been fatal bomb and grenade attacks in recent months. Others are also linking up with extremists elsewhere on the continent and beyond.

On the other side of the continent, fighters from Boko Haram and Ansaru, a splinter group of Nigerians with ambitions for global terrorism, have turned up in Mali to train with and possibly fight alongside al-Qaeda and its allies. Whack a terrorist in one place, and his friends pop up next door.

Often these are young men with no skills but fighting, no education but in fanaticism, no prospects outside war. The many problems that give rise to young men like this are likely to be with us for some time, and given that many of the states in the region are weak there are plenty of places where they can live unharassed. The key will be to keep them marginalized and to deny them the prestige (and the funding) that comes from victories. In the past such groups have often funded themselves by kidnapping and ransoms. The U.S. and its allies, especially in Europe, will need to work together to ensure that these groups stay small, disorganized, and on the run.

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