Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the recent high profile attacks in West Africa.
The group which is linked to veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed two hotel sieges in the Mali and Burkina Faso capitals in November and January that killed dozens.
The attacks may be a bid to compete with the Islamic State militia which now has a base in Libya.
The hotel attacks raised the profile of the group.
“The hotel attacks raised the profile of the group,” said Colonel Bob Wilson, a US-based security expert during the U.S.-led ‘Flintlock’ counter-terror training program in the Sahel region, that is happening in Senegal.
Wilson said he expects ISIS to spread beyond Libya to other African countries in 2017, echoing fears expressed by Niger and Chad.
The AQIM traces its roots to the Algerian civil war in the 1990s and is now based in nothern Mali.