News / Africa

Africa Terrorism Is Symptom of Intractable Problems

Africa Terrorism Symptom of Intractable Problemsi
X
September 30, 2013 4:33 PM
The past week's terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria have renewed attention on militancy and terrorism in Africa. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London on the rising trend, and the difficulty of reversing it.
Africa Terrorism Symptom of Intractable Problems
Al Pessin
The past week's terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria have renewed attention on militancy and terrorism in Africa. It's a rising trend, and a difficult one to reverse.

The September 21 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall by Somalia's al-Shabab militants was a shocking event in generally peaceful Nairobi.  

A week later across the continent, the midnight killing of dozens of students at a college in Nigeria was equally shocking, but less surprising. There, the government is at war with the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram.

Rising militancy in Nigeria and Somalia, as well as Mali, Libya, and several other African countries, has killed thousands in terrorist attacks and civil wars. And for the most part, it is linked to local grievances, according to Africa specialist Jason Mosley of London’s Chatham House research organization - speaking via Skype.

“Terrorism, broadly speaking, in Africa is still tightly constrained to regional or local political dynamics,” said Mosley.

Breeding ground

Poverty, corruption and political frustration create fertile ground for radicalism. There is at least an ideological link to global militant Islam, however, according to the director of the King’s College Center for the Study of Radicalism, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens.

“I don’t think any of these groups are directed specifically by al-Qaida Central. They are affiliated. They are fellow-travelers. They follow the same ideology. But, yes, a lot of these groups in Africa do have also local concerns. And some of them are actually divided,” said Meleagrou-Hitchens.

For example, Meleagrou-Hitchens said not all members of al-Shabab support launching attacks outside of Somalia, like the one in Nairobi, even though Kenya has troops on Somali territory.

But while poverty and other local issues spawn militant groups in many parts of the continent, Mosley said the number of recruits remains small, while the problems that motivate them are big and difficult to solve.

“De-radicalization efforts that are under way in places like Kenya or Somalia are one track. And of course ultimately and broadly speaking, the real answer is economic opportunity. This is more difficult than it sounds,” said Mosley.

And experts say that is particularly true in the areas where it is needed most - Africa’s poorest and most troubled countries.

“It’s likely that this problem, this trend of jihadist activity in Africa will continue in the foreseeable future simply because the problems on which the recruitment and the spread is based, like the poverty, like the corruption, are going to remain for quite some time,” said Meleagrou-Hitchens.

Experts say the combination of economic opportunity, education and leadership that could ensure that children like these do not grow up to be militants is hard to come by, and ever more urgently needed.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 01, 2013 6:03 AM
GOODLUCK JONATHAN IS NOT A MILLITARY MAN THIS IS DEMOCRACY.THOSE WHO LIKE TO PUT NIGERIA IN BONDAGE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE CRITISIZING HIM.THE BEST OPTION IN NIGERIA IS TO SHARE THE COUNTARY INTO SIX ZONE .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs