Operation Stop ISIS: British troops are sent to Senegal to provide counter-terrorism training as new jihadi danger rises in West Africa
- British troops have been sent to Senegal as Jihadi danger rises in West Africa
- About 30 stationed around 80 Nigerian, Moroccan and Cameroonian soldiers
- Royal Marines also trained members of Nigeria’s 707 special forces brigade
- A Nigerian special forces lieutenant prays ‘this [extremistm] will be wiped out’
- US General says the Al Qaeda ‘has the will and desire to attack the West’
British forces have been deployed to West Africa to stop it turning into an Islamic State and Al Qaeda ‘caliphate’ rife with battle-hardened extremists.
Dozens of troops from 1 Scots Guards and the Royal Marines are training three African nations in Senegal to tackle soaring numbers of diehard jihadists.
Countries such as Mali in the Sahel region are at the epicentre of the world’s fastest-growing Islamist insurgency. Thousands of extremists from IS, Al Qaeda and local groups are working together for the first time to wage mass terror. Foreign fighters have fled Syria to the lawless region, taking bomb-making skills with them. UK officials fear more could follow and plot overseas attacks.
Operation Mansio: British troops (pictured) provide counter-terrorism training to Nigerian, Cameroonian and Moroccan forces in Senegal. Some 30 troops are stationed around these soldiers and in a huge exercise last week, UK forces guided the African soldiers as they attacked and detained members of a terrorist cell
The threat of a new Syria emerging in Africa’s ungoverned desert and scrubland has become a major security concern for the UK Government.
Colonel Matthew Botsford, who oversees the British military training team in Nigeria, said: ‘What none of us want to see is a caliphate anywhere near West Africa that imposes its own regime and Islamic law. That’s the worst case for us.’
He said ‘skills and experience are being transferred’ from Syria and Iraq to West Africa as IS is pushed out from the Middle East.
The colonel added: ‘Recent events in the UK over the last couple of years have proved that there is a link to Africa to the UK and back to Africa. Slavery, drugs, money, trafficking, you name it. The UK wants to play a part in ensuring that link is broken and it doesn’t manifest itself on the streets of Germany, France or UK.’
Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops (pictured) exercise under the supervision of British special forces during US military-led annual counterterrorism exercise in Thies, Senegal, on February 18. The threat of a new Syria emerging in Africa’s ungoverned desert and scrubland has become a major security concern for the UK Government
Brigadier Gus Fair, who overseas specialised teams of British military trainers across the world, added: ‘The potential for it [terror] to spread here absolutely is increasing.’ He said the ‘aspiration’ was to avoid a ‘perpetual crisis’ by being ‘pre-emptive’.
Some 30 British troops are currently stationed in Senegal training around 80 Nigerian, Moroccan and Cameroonian soldiers, many of them elite forces.
In a huge exercise last week, UK forces guided the African soldiers as they attacked and detained members of a terrorist cell.
Royal Marines also trained members of Nigeria’s 707 special forces brigade and their special boat service on a shooting range. After completing the training, the African troops will be despatched to their home nations to defeat a whole host of terrorist groups, including IS, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram. Later this year, 250 personnel from the Light Dragoon Guards and the Royal Anglian Regiment will head to Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
US General Dag Anderson, commander of special operations in Africa, warned a ‘spectacular’ terror attack could happen if the threat was not crushed.
Royal Marines also trained members of Nigeria’s 707 special forces brigade as part of the operation. After completing the training, the African troops will be despatched to their home nations to defeat a whole host of terrorist groups. Pictured: British and Malawian troops during an anti-poaching demonstration exercise on September 30
He said: ‘We know Al Qaeda especially has the will and desire to attack the West.’
He warned that an attack like September 11 was their ‘ultimate goal’ which they could achieve if they were allowed a safe haven. The US was ‘very concerned’ over Al Qaeda’s ability to bring terror groups together, he added.
Lieutenant Michael Olatoye, of Nigeria’s special forces brigade, said many of his comrades had been murdered by Boko Haram, and added: ‘We are praying with time all this [extremistm] will be wiped out.’
Colonel Djibril Diawara, commanding officer of Senegal’s naval support group, said: ‘We have a spreading threat in this region which is now affecting many countries and which shows the enemy’s ability to grow.’
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