The revelation came before Friday's terror attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital, when earlier this month chief of US Special Operations Command Africa Brigadier General Donald Bolduc said there are 50 potentially dangerous groups operating in the region.
"Although ISIL is a concern, so is al Shabaab, so is the Lord's Resistance Army in Central Africa and the 43 other illicit groups that operate in the area… Boko Haram, AQIM, and other small groups in that area," he said, not calling the names of vast majority of these groups.
But what exact groups are on the list remains to be a mystery: the US Department of Defense (DoD) as well as Africa Command and Special Operations Command Africa for some reason appeared to be unable to disclose the names of those organizations to Intercept investigators.
When asked for a full list of extremists with which America was struggling with in 2003, Pentagon representative declared that such kind of information would boost popularity of terror groups and impose "serious damage to national security."
Jack Goldsmith, former legal counsel for the George W. Bush administration, criticized this stance, stressing it is "very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name."
Africa that was "relatively free" of terror threats in 2001 and the Pentagon's opinion has become "as lethal and dangerous an environment as anywhere else in the world," according to Bolduc.