Extremist violence continues to rock the world. As President Donald Trump dials back support for combating everything from white nationalist vitriol inside the United States to other forms of terrorism abroad, it continues to rear its ugly head. This weekend in the African nation of Burkina Faso, gunmen stormed a Catholic church and left six people dead, including a priest. They then set fire to the building and other nearby structures. Just last week, in a similar incident, a number of people were killed in an attack on a Burkina Faso Protestant church.
CNN’s initial reporting does not include any word about the attackers being positively identified let alone taken into custody. The nation in question has been rocked by terrorist incidents associated with ISIS and al Qaeda. After two dozen incidents associated with local affiliates of the group in 2017, Burkina Faso experienced at least a full 136 in 2018.
The spike is ironic considering President Donald Trump’s insistence that ISIS has been defeated, which he’s used to justify decisions to scale back support for operations against the group overseas. Although it is accurate to note that the vast majority of territory that the group once held has been retaken, it is flatly incorrect to jump to asserting the group’s been defeated. They continue to make their presence known across the Middle East and North Africa through incidents like the Burkina Faso one this weekend, although it’s not immediately clear what exact group might have been behind this attack. Another recent high profile Burkina Faso incident was a hostage taking involving a number of foreigners, who were eventually rescued.
Overall, the issue remains that the Trump administration unveiled plans just last year to slash the number of troops in Africa by about 10 percent, which according to a defense official speaking to CNN would translate to a drop in counterterrorism forces by about 20 percent — which fits only with the lie Trump’s peddled of ISIS’s defeat, not reality. Addressing that discrepancy, the United States has actually apparently planned to send military advisers and intelligence assets to Burkina Faso in particular to assist in addressing the looming terrorist threat.
It’s not the only front on which his team has dropped the ball in dealing with these kinds of threats. After a white nationalist terrorist targeting New Zealand Muslims left a full 50 people dead, he sat before the press and declared that he did not think white nationalism should be considered a rising threat to the West. Even still, the number of deaths associated with them continues to rise — in 2018, white nationalism was associated with every single extremist-linked death in the United States according to the Anti-Defamation League. A full 50 people lost their lives in such incidents — these ideologies that some might be prone to dismiss as only an issue on internet forums were the idiots pop up are having real-world consequences and people are dying. 2018 was one of the handful of deadliest years for targets of U.S. extremism in the past several decades.
As long as Trump remains on the scene, this issue can be expected to linger. At a recent Florida rally when he posed the rhetorical question of what the United States should do with the surge of migrants, a crowd member suggested shooting them — and Trump appeared to laugh along.