In the African nation of Ghana last week a young university graduate left the country in order to join the militant group ISIS. The incident was not the first, but in what was once thought to be one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations, social media and declining economic trends have heightened the threat of radicalization among its youth.
Its the latest sign that terror group ISIS is slowly invading Africa, even those countries which should not be susceptible to its propaganda.
The graduate was 25 year old Nazir Alema Nortey. He texted his family to tell them he had left the country to join ISIS. His family described him as polite and kind, active on campus and that he also had a girlfriend.
Ghana’s National Security Coordinator, Yaw Donkor, stated that potential members are being headhunted in Ghana using WhatsApp and Facebook.
A local radio station in Ghana released a report that ISIS agents are attracting unemployed youth with cash and the promise of guaranteed salvation. There are worries the group could attempt to exploit a possible rift between the minority Muslim demographic and the majority Christians. In June, a predominantly Muslim slum neighborhood was destroyed following official orders, which left thousands homeless.
The Christian demographic is mostly in the south and although relations between the two groups have been good, it has been increasingly noted that development and education progresses much more quickly in the southern region than in the Muslim north.
Ghana’s proximity to Nigeria is a risk factor, considering the presence of the radical group Boko Haram. It recently pledged allegiance to ISIS in March of this year, and its insurgency has spread to nearby Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.
Nortey was from a prosperous background, but even so, the opportunities for young people have not been sufficient in recent years. President John Mahama has stated that growth needs to be above 8% in order to provide enough jobs, but currently it is around 4%, which has led the country to seek aid from the International Monetary Fund.
So far there has been no evidence of a widespread trend towards radicalization, but the danger is currently rising, and Ghana has taken little action in its anti-terrorism efforts.