Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram, while all different, each display three common characteristics that aid in understanding terrorist actors in Africa.
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Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun, an Africa Center faculty member who focuses on governance and security in North Africa and the Sahel, authored an article titled “Changing Security Dynamics in North Africa and Western Sahel,” recently published in the Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, No. 8 (Spring/Summer 2014). In the article, Dr. Jebnoun provides an overview of... Continue Reading
In this edition of Ask the Expert, Dr. Hussein Solomon, a leading expert on militant Islam and counterterrorism strategies in Africa—who lectures at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of the Free State in South Africa—assesses the state of fundamentalism on the continent.
The rise in Islamic militancy in the Sahel, northern Nigeria, and the Horn of Africa has elevated attention to this evolving security concern. Hopes that Africa’s historically moderate interpretations of Islam would suffice to filter extremist views from gaining meaningful traction seem increasingly misplaced. More generally, understanding of this unconventional security challenge is often based more on speculation than informed assessment. Responses must avoid conflating distinct Islamist actors while addressing local level perceptions of disaffection and under-representation that underpin support for militants.
Support for Boko Haram among some of northern Nigeria’s marginalized Muslim communities suggests that security actions alone will be insufficient to quell the instability.
Despite growing security concerns across the Sahel and Maghreb, regional security cooperation to address these transnational threats remains fragmented. Algeria is well-positioned to play a central role in defining this cooperation, but must first reconcile the complex domestic, regional, and international considerations that shape its decision-making.
Increasing narcotrafficking and a more active Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are elevating concerns over instability in the Sahel. However, the region’s threats are more complex than what is observable on the surface. Rather, security concerns are typically characterized by multiple, competing, and fluctuating interests at the local, national, and regional levels. Effectively responding to these threats requires in-depth understanding of the multiple contextual layers in which illicit actors operate.
Combating irregular forces has become a common feature of the contemporary African security landscape. However, the security sector in most African countries is ill-prepared to conduct effective counter-insurgency operations. Realigning force structures to address these threats while building security sector professionalism to gain the trust of local populations is needed to do so.
Download this Security Brief as a PDF: English | Français | Português The increasingly internal nature of Africa’s security threats is placing ever greater pressures on Africa’s police forces. Yet severe resource and capacity limitations, combined with high levels of public distrust, leave most African police forces incapable of effectively addressing these expanding urban-based threats in... Continue Reading
Download this Security Brief as a PDF: English | Français | Português Persistent reports of extremist activity from across Africa have deepened concern over the spread of radicalism on the continent. Extremists capitalize on political and security vacuums within Africa’s fragile states to grow their support base and consolidate their strength. Stable states that provide... Continue Reading