Understanding terrorism in contemporary Africa

 
PIIS032150750019953-0-1
DOI10.31857/S032150750019953-0
Publication type Review
Status Published
Authors
 
Affiliation: Niger Delta University, Nigeria
Address: Russian Federation,
Journal nameAsia and Africa Today
EditionIssue 7
Pages79-81
Abstract

Review of the book: Terrorism in Africa: New trends and frontiers / Eds, Glen Segell, Sergey Kostelyanets and Hussein Solomon. Moscow, Institute for Africa Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; University of Haifa, Israel. 2021. 194 p. ISBN 978-5-91298-268-2; ISBN 979-8-48152-268-5

KeywordsAfrica, terrorism, counter-terrorism, Islamism, radicalism, extremism, insurgency
Received11.04.2022
Publication date13.07.2022
Number of characters10571
Cite  
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1 Captivating right from the title and the preface, the reference to the Ten Commandments and terrorism as Africa’s 11th plague fills the reader with curiosity about the issues and perspectives of the book “Terrorism in Africa: new trends and frontiers” (Moscow, 2021). Of what analogical relevance are these biblical stories? One of the early books of the bible (Exodus) tells the story of the Israelites under slavery in Egypt. To free them, God caused ten different plagues, no two occurring simultaneously, to force Pharaoh, the king of Egypt to let the Israelites go. The intensity of the plagues and the casualty figures, eventually made Pharaoh yield and the Israelites were allowed to leave Egypt. While in the desert, God purportedly gave Moses their leader, the Ten Commandments - a book of rules or code of conduct by which the Israelites were to order their lives.
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3 Relating this experience to the situation in Africa, terrorism is now the eleventh plague, and it’s being suffered by an increasing number of countries on the continent, and not just Egypt. While the Ten Commandments, in this case, are the steps governments in Africa, and Africans ought to take, to overcome this plague and establish stability. Much of these steps are discussed in this book taking into consideration the uniqueness of the different parts/people of the continent. The analogy of the Ten Commandments aptly captures the main purpose of this book.
4 This collection of beautifully written chapters presents an antecedence to the rise of terrorist groups on the continent. This book explains derives from the anger of the minority and the poor, and borne from the corruption and maladministration of the continents rulers and which was ultimately fed upon by extremist sects. The book contends too that much of what we know today as terrorism is the result of western interference on issues outside western shores. Thus the decision to intervene is often easy as the direct consequences would not be felt on home soil - the CIA’s intervention in Afghanistan, and America’s intervention in Iraq, bred Arab fighters whose only skill was to fight such that, at the end of these wars (struggles), these fighters diffused to other parts the world, especially Africa, to continue what they did best - fight.
5 Herein lies a major source of the scourge of the 11th plague whose effect gained momentum across the continent. Today, the manifestation of terrorism with religious motivation has become a feature of life in Africa with a devastating toll on civilians since the end of the Cold War. As authors of the various chapters note, when you are guided by the providence of God as Islamic extremists think, there are no moral constraints on the use of violence.
6 Add such thought and the unimaginable violence that accrues to today’s cyberspace and information technology that create conditions for the faster mobilisation of extremists and their protégés, and we are bound to have an implosion of violence which Africa currently experiences. Managing this combustion has been a herculean task for governments on the continent and the challenges to this effort include;
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  • Developing Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) against terrorist groups since there are variations on what constitutes terrorism even on the African continent and with the African Union (AU)
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  • Easy access to new types of weapons.
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  • Increased terrorist financing and technological advances.
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  • Improved communication and transportation.
11 One common feature to terrorism that the book recognises is that terrorism prevails as political processes, dialogue and local/international participation become less likely in resolving thorny issues or long-standing grievances.
12 Terrorism in Africa sets as its objective, the investigation of new frontiers of terrorism in Africa, built on sound historical evidence and empirical research. In the course of meeting this objective, the book examines the psychological, historical, political and empirical drivers of Islamic extremism and by extension terrorism. Few books are as comprehensive and introspective as this on the roots, drivers and effects of terrorism in Africa, and the various institutional, national and international/collaborative responses to the issue. The book’s division into three major themes enables broad analysis from different perspectives.
13 The first section consists of an empirical presentation of the problem in Africa drawing on experiences from Morocco, Cameroon, East Africa and the Sahel. Among chapters in this section, Dr. Natalia Zherlitsina from the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Chapter 1 offers a discourse on Morocco’s approach to curbing terrorism was certainly an eye opener and most readers would find the narrative here captiva-ting.
14 Professor Hussein Solomon from the University of the Free State (UFS) (Bloemfontein, South Africa) in Chapter 2 advocates a re-orientation of terrorism studies in Africa, where the phenomenon should be treated as one that has been on the continent rather than one that was exported. This strengthens and paves way for local solutions to the problem.

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