Great intel brief by The Soufan Group on Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence in Africa:
(…) In West Africa it has found one area of the world where it can beat back the competing influence of the so-called Islamic State. Al-Qaeda activities in West Africa gain the group publicity that helps it maintain influence elsewhere, whether in the adjoining areas of North Africa—where al-Qaeda leadership struggles to maintain the loyalty of younger extremists—or in East Africa, where al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab fears that it could lose many of its foot soldiers if the Islamic State were to establish a strong foothold there. A recent announcement by the Islamic State accused al-Shabaab of killing and arresting hundreds of its supporters, and al-Shabaab has recently mounted a military campaign to eradicate the last remnants of a breakaway group that declared allegiance to the Islamic State in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
AQIM has sent another key message through its attacks in West Africa: that it is a united body. Earlier splits resulting from disagreements between the leader of AQIM in Northern Algeria, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and his unruly lieutenant in the Sahara, Mokhtar Belmokhtar—who set up his own rival al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Mourabitoun, in 2013—weakened the movement. However, AQIM announced that the two groups had reunited while claiming credit for the Radisson Blu attack, and the groups have made joint claims of responsibility for subsequent operations. With a ready supply of local recruits and plenty of weapons from looted Libyan stockpiles, it is likely that AQIM will continue its resurgence until local forces—with international support—find a way to beat it back.
Full brief available here.