African Journal of Terrorism & Insurgency Research (AJoTIR) Vol. 1, No. 1 April 2020
About This Edition
ISSN : ISSN: 2732-4990 E-ISSN: 2732-5008
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Though terrorist acts as weapons of politics and warfare can be traced to ancient times, the term ‘terrorism’ was initially coined to designate the Reign of Terror by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution of September 5 1793 to July 27 1794 in which the Revolutionary Government unleashed violence and harsh measures against those suspected of being counter-revolutionaries or enemies of the revolution (Kekes, 2006). Since then the notion of terrorism has evolved while the contention over its precise meaning has remained or has even become exacerbated (Ramsay, 2015).
In recent times, a number of African countries have experienced high levels of protracted terrorism, as well as other forms of armed insurgencies. The most prominent terrorist groups in the continent are Boko Haram of Nigeria and al-Shabaab of Somalia (University of Maryland, 2017). Most of the affected African governments have developed various counter-insurgency measures, including de-radicalisation programmes to deal with the ‘new’ challenge (Adibe, 2020).
The African Journal of Terrorism and Insurgency Research (AJoTIR) aims at providing African perspectives to the whole conversation about terrorism, insurgency and counter-insurgencies in Africa. The journal, a triennial, international, double-blind-reviewed and interdisciplinary periodical aims at advancing theoretical and empirical research on all aspects of terrorism, insurgency and counter-insurgency strategies in Africa.
In this maiden issue the contributors approach the issues of terrorism, insurgency and counter-insurgencies in Africa from various perspectives:
Andreas Herberg-Rothe and Miriam Foerstle in their article ‘The dissolution of identities in liquid globalization and the emergence of violent uprisings’ discuss the crisis in the neo-liberal world order that emerged after the Cold War and argue that this has led to new struggles and contestations over identity. Borrowing from the notion of ‘liquid modernity’, they highlight the conflicting tendencies in the current process of globalization between the forces of globalization and those of local resistance (‘glo-calisation’) and contend that this has led a counter-movement to the process of globalization (embodied in the rise of Salafism, in “America First“, Brexit, Marine Le Pen, Duterte, the European and American radical right)”. For them, among the consequences of ‘glo-calisation’ are “struggles for local and seemingly fixed identities throughout the world, identities, which are prone to violence.”
In his paper, ‘An Architecture of Complexity: The Challenges of Radicalization of Islam and Islamization of Radicalism in Western Sahel’, Kitissou argues that “there is no one terrorism in the Sahel but many and each requires a different approach”. He further wades into the theoretical debate of whether Jihadism is the result of a radicalization of Islam or the result of an Islamization of radicalism and contends that the debate is irrelevant because there is a continuum between the two. He contends that “Jihadism in Western Sahel combines both phenomena at various degrees to create a situation of increasing instability, political violence, intractable civil strife, and interlocking conflicts.”
In their paper, ‘How Does War Contribute to the Reproduction of the Tuareg Elite?’ Fassory Sangaré and Lamine Savané argue that the political splits of the Tuareg are the result of the antagonisms within the social groups that make up the highly stratified Tuareg society. As they put it:
The dominant statutory groups are in the majority in the Tuareg independence movements (Ifoghas) as opposed to the dominated statutory groups (Imghad) which are in the majority in the pro-government (anti-independence) movements. In this context, the war is functional to the reproduction of Tuareg political elites. And all the strategies of the Tuareg political actors revolve around whether or not to maintain this traditional power, threatened by the republican character of the Malian state, and whose main expression is the use of arms.
Against what they regard as the “misconceived representation of Tuareg society as monolithic”, their paper draws attention to the diversity within Tuareg communities, their antagonistic relations, and their conflicting relationship with the central state.
In ‘Framing the Fight Against Terrorism in Kenya: Perspectives on the Attacks at Westgate Mall and Garissa University’, Onguny discusses the communication response by the Kenyan government following the terrorist attacks at Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015, which were attributed to the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab insurgent group. He argues that “the manner in which we evaluate the causes, consequences, and response to terrorism is partly informed by how governments produce, negotiate, and disseminate meanings around such events.” His article contributes to the on-going debates about the centrality of strategic communication in counterinsurgency efforts
Ogbonnaya in ‘Africa and the Future of the Islamic State after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ discusses the future of the Islamic state in Africa following the assassination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019 by the USA. He noted that it was Abu Bakr-al Baghadi, who in 2014, led the Islamic State to global prominence as the most “formidable terrorist organisation of the twenty-first century” and the “most ruthless and violent terror organisation in the World.” His death, Ogbonnaya pointed out, has occasioned the emergence of a new leadership under Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al-Mawli Al-Salbi, “whose operational direction and strategic focus appear surrounded in cloudiness raising questions about the future of the group.” Ogbonnaya contends that the Islamic state under the new leadership is unlikely to change the philosophy of the Islamic State or its operational strategies and ideological drive for a worldwide caliphate.
In his contribution, ‘From Internal Insurgency to Regional Instability: Boko Haram and the Dynamic of Regional Security Cooperation in the Lake Chad Basin region’, Martin examines the dynamics of regional security co-operation against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin (LCB) region and argues that the presence and activities of several regional organizations in the LCB at the same time is a serious obstacle to the regional security cooperation against Boko Haram. As he puts it, the presence of several regional organisations in the LCB has
…hindered the capacity of states in the region to efficiently act or collectively react against common threats. Among these organizations, we have the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), the Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). Faced with the regional threat of Boko Haram, only three of these organizations tried to address the problem: ECOWAS where Niger and Nigeria are member states, ECCAS where Cameroon and Chad are member states and the LCBC where all these four countries are members.
Olofinbiyi in his paper ‘The Ideological Basis of Boko Haram Terrorism: A Review Essay’ argues that though Boko Haram’s ideological basis is often narrowly located in the group’s opposition to Western education and values, their ideology actually goes beyond that because it also includes “campaign against western education as a tool of correcting the pathological ideology of corruption among the ruling class, as well as ameliorating the conditions of poverty of the poor masses.” He recommends a re-orientation of political ethos across a diverse range of the Nigeria’s socio-political terrain.
Banyongen in the ‘Communication Battles Between Boko Haram and Nigeria: Examination of Persuasive Strategies and Institutional Responses’ argues that though discourses on terrorism often focus narrowly on the security dimension, terrorism should be seen first and foremost as “a political discourse, hence the importance of communication in the development of narrative strategies against it.” Building on Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications, his article evaluates the persuasive strategies used by various actors in the fight against Boko Haram to “seduce the minds and win hearts.” He poses the question of whether it is possible to “achieve a better understanding of the balance of power in the fight against Boko Haram by isolating communication practices”. He contends that changes in world politics have “raised the value of smart power (seduction power through discourses, media relations, public diplomacy, and public relations) relative to hard power (military and economic)”.
Talla in his article ‘Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF) and Emerging Regional Security Complex in the Lake Chad Region’ argues that the strategic warfare and cross-border ramifications of Boko Haram and its dissident factions, influenced by Islamist armed groups in the Sahel, has forced the governments of the Lake Chad Basin countries to activate a common defence force against the terrorist threat. Using the Regional Security Complex theory developed by Barry Buzan (1991), he contends that the creation of the Multinational Joint Task Force amounts to a self-ownership of the constructed collective security. He argues that the MNJTF, as presently constituted, is more of a coalition than alliance
Onuoha in the ‘Dilemma of Voluntary Surrender to State Security Forces by Boko Haram Members in Nigeria’ discusses the dilemma faced by Boko Haram recruits who would want to take advantage of the government’s de-radicalization programme, Operation Safe Corridor, to surrender to the government’s forces. He argues that the concern here centres around three issues - the extent of atrocities by the individual, degree of real or perceived perpetration of atrocities by the member’s faction of the Boko Haram and the degree of real or perceived perpetration of atrocities by state security forces. He recommends, among others, the de-militarization of the security forces, expanding influence operations and promoting the voices of the defectors.
We are grateful to the distinguished scholars who responded positively to the invitation to contribute to this maiden issue of the journal. We look forward to vigorous conversations on the issues of terrorism, insurgency and counter-insurgency in Africa in the months and years ahead. The journal, which will be published three times a year in the first instance, welcomes quality theoretical, empirical and policy-oriented articles, especially those written from African perspectives or whose themes will be of relevance to African scholarship.