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How Islamic State now recruits in W/African universities

Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama
Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama

Graduate Mohammad Nazir Nortei Alema was confirmed as one of those who have joined the radical Islamic State (IS) as West African neighbours, Ghana is now investigating several universities over links to suspected recruitment for the so-called IS, officials say.

IS agents recruited students after urging them to join radical online forums, National Security Coordinator Yaw Donkor told state media.

Donkor confirmed that two Ghanaians had travelled to join IS, the first such cases that have been reported.

Ghana has so far been unaffected by Islamist militancy.

Donkor said there was “no reason to fear”, adding that “only a handful” of Ghanaians had gone to join the militant group.

The wealth of IS meant that potential recruits had found the offers made to them by the militants’ “irresistible”, he added.

The recruits had travelled through Burkina Faso or Nigeria, before receiving training at a camp in Niger, and then making the onward journey to Turkey or Syria, the National Security Coordinator said.

Many people here are extremely shocked by this news. Ghanaians are surprised because they have always seen Islamist militancy as a distant threat.

But it is now dawning on this West African nation that the problem may have reached closer to home.

The issue has become part of a nationwide discourse. Parents are worrying about their children and the Muslim community is anxious to disassociate itself from Islamist extremism.

Mohammad Nazir Nortei Alema, a 25 year old who studied geography at the prestigious Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, was confirmed as one of those who had joined IS.

“It’s like someone in the family has died,” his father Abdul Latif Alema told the BBC on Tuesday, after he had received a Whatsapp message from his son explaining that he was going to join the group.

IS, notorious for its brutality, holds vast swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria.

But the group has also established a presence in Africa, with militant groups in Nigeria, Egypt and Libya pledging allegiance to it and carrying out bombing campaigns in its name.

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