The area stretches on about 7,480,000 km and has a population of about 255 million. About 93 millions, 42%, are Sunnite Muslims and 99 millions are Christian from different Christian denominations. The rest, about 24 million, still believe in local traditions.
Wide areas in East Africa are ungoverned especially in the Northern part of East Africa; South Sudan, Somalia, North Ethiopia and parts of Eritrea. In any given time, in the last four decades, at least one war raged. Christian Ethiopia against Muslim Eritrea, Muslims from North Sudan against Christians in South Sudan, Muslims against Muslims in Somalia, in an ongoing civil war for more than 30 years and Arab Muslims against Black Muslims in the last four years in Darfur, West Sudan.
All of the regimes in East Africa are inefficient and effective border control between the countries does not exist. East Africa is, therefore, an ideal place for Islamic militants to retreat. Large Muslim population concentrated in ungoverned areas and uncontrolled borders provides al Qaeda and other affiliated organizations an almost safe haven. This gives also plenty of opportunities to change identities and sneak back through the uncontrolled borders to the Western World for further activities.
Today (06/2007) the main effort of the Western Democracies to cope with the threat of Global Jihad from North-East Africa is to contain, from outside, the Islamic militants. So far the good cooperation between Egypt in the North, Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the East, Kenya and Ethiopia in the center and South and other African countries proves to be very efficient in isolating the North of East Africa from the world and from bases of Islamic militants in the world.