Nigeria-based Boko Haram has surpassed ISIS as “the most deadly terrorist group in the world,” according to a recent report from the Institute for Economics and Peace. A total of 6,644 deaths were attributed to Boko Haram in 2014—a 317? percent increase—while 6,073 people were killed by ISIS, states the report. However, US Africa Command boss Army Gen. David Rodriguez told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Friday that ISIS actually poses the biggest threat to the continent “because of [its] ability to operate much more freely than anybody else.” At least six groups in and around Libya have pledged allegiance to ISIS, which has taken advantage of the “chaotic” and unstable environment there following the ouster of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. ISIS also has a presence in Egypt, which falls under US Central Command’s area of operations, and has gained ground in Tunisia, but Rodriguez said the terrorist organization has struggled to expand beyond North Africa. “They’ve had a tough time getting anywhere past Libya because the countries have done a pretty good job working that,” he said. Boko Haram, though deadly, doesn’t have “a huge amount of resourcing yet,” making them more of a localized threat, said Rodriguez. ISIS, on the other hand, has declared its intent to use African countries, such as Libya, as a leap pad to get its forces “into Europe and beyond,” he added. (See also: US Deploys Troops to Cameroon, Gorenc: Need for Airpower Will Increase in Africa)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.