Washington (CNN)ISIS and al Qaeda represent major threats and are growing in strength in West Africa according to the commander of US special operations in Africa, Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks.
US warns of growing African terror threat
"The al Qaeda and ISIS inspired threats in Lake Chad Basin and here in the Sahel are very real and continue to grow in strength," Hicks told CNN, referring to two regions in western Africa.
Hicks was speaking via phone from Niger where he was attending Flintlock 18, a major military exercise involving 1,900 elite special operations and counterterrorism troops from 21 African and western countries.
"Both ISIS and al Qaeda franchises here should be taken seriously, they both have either carried out or attempted attacks on western interests in Africa, and they both have aspirations to continue attacks on western interests here, and then to attack the west beyond here," Hicks said.
But while he labeled both groups threats, Hicks said that al Qaeda represented the bigger concern due to its ability to plan for the long term.
"What concerns me most specifically is