The terror group ISIS is ramping up terror attacks in North Africa.
Terrorists in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, have launched attacks against the Moroccan and South Korean embassies this week, leading to new security concerns in the region.
Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to foreign policy analysts James Robbins and retired Army Col. Wesley Martin about the terrorists’ ambitions.
“ISIS is going to be leapfrogging all over Africa into Europe and into North America as well; we already started to see that happening,” said Martin. After the downfall of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, “they are able to get in there and you are going to see the attacks as you did in Libya, in Tunisia, and further down south.”
While foreign fighters loyal to ISIS have entered the region, the terror group is also finding support among locals.
“Fighters from these areas who have gone to Syria, joined up with ISIS, got experience there and came back. Some of them are local militias and some are ISIS leaders … coming in to organize and exploit the chaos and opportunities that exist,” said Robbins.
There is growing debate whether ISIS and affiliate groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabaab are coordinating together or acting independently.
“My estimate is that they are independent actors within each region – they have differences between each other,” said Martin. He suggests long-term they could be “cooperating, but not what I’ve estimated so far ... [perhaps] in the future.”
“It starts off as local, but what they are building is an international network, in the same way Al Qaeda did with global reach,” said Robbins.
This is evident, he says, in a recent report suggesting ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram are training together in the Sahara Desert in Mauritania.
Attacks in Libya are leading to neighboring countries, like Egypt, to step up their security. The February beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya by ISIS led Egypt to carry out an air campaign against the terror group.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said his country is a model for fighting terrorism.
“ISIS is going to try and spread to Egypt, but I got to give Sisi a lot of credit … [he] brought a lot of stability to the region, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him,” said Martin.