Europe must do everything possible to prevent the expansion of Daesh/ISIS-linked terror in Africa’s Sahel zone, south of the Sahara Desert, the head of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency said on Monday.

“It is obvious that the West cannot disappear there. The French president has expressly emphasized that France will continue to be involved in the Sahel,” Bruno Kahl told Munich-based daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

“Europe must also be aware of the fact that this is a neighborhood region in which security risks have a direct impact on us – through terror exports, migration, or even organized crime.”

According to Kahl, there is only one way to stop the spread of terrorist groups: “Show your presence.”

He added that Europe must do everything it can to support the states of the Sahel zone and be aware that “this is a neighborhood region in which security risks have immediate effects.”

Kahl’s remarks come in the wake of French plans to pull its troops out of the Sahel zone.

There are around 5,100 French soldiers deployed in the African region fighting terrorist groups, some of which have pledged allegiance to ISIS/Daesh or al-Qaeda.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last week that his country will close all military bases in the Sahel region by 2022 as a part of its reconfiguration of the country’s military engagement in Africa.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called for stronger international cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Mali.

“We will have to bring all these missions together and coordinate them even better in the next few years,” she said.

There are currently around 900 German soldiers based in Mali as part of the led-UN MINUSMA mission. The mission is geared at supporting the peace process in Mali.

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