The human security and development opportunities for the citizens African countries have long been threatened by violent extremist ideologies. Terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab have conducted devastating attacks both on civilian populations in public places, including markets and malls, hotels, cafes and educational establishments; they extort taxes on local businesses and communities, threatening livelihoods and constraining economic growth; they block humanitarian convoys and target aid organisations providing assistance to vulnerable populations. In their determination to undermine democratic governance and the rule of law, these terrorist groups violently attack political targets such as government officials, diplomats and Western institutions.
In recent years, there are concerns that regional insecurity prompted by these groups is being negatively impacted by the emergence and influence of transnational terrorist and criminal groups from other theatres, including the Islamic State (IS). Emulating strategies employed by these groups, Boko Haram, AQIM, Al-Shabaab and affiliates have enhanced their social media strategies, seeking both financial support and foreign fighters to join their cause, as well as calling for their supports to effect attacks overseas. The atmosphere of all-pervasive insecurity and restricted development creates the environment where criminality, such as the rise of maritime piracy and kidnapping for ransom, and radicalisation can flourish, making these groups a threat both domestically, regionally and internationally.
The IcSP currently has the following activities underway responding to the challenges of countering terrorism and violent extremism in Africa:
- The African Union Centre Africain D’Etudes et Recherche sur le Terrorism (CAERT) has been financially supported (585,000 €), in particular by strengthening cooperation and coordination between the CAERT and National and Regional Focal Points.
- A new project on Civil Aviation Security in Africa is being developed for implementation from early 2015 (7 M€).
Horn of Africa including Yemen
- A 2 M€ project aims to develop best practices for countering violent extremism and radicalisation in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Concretely, the aim is to constitute a knowledge base on past and present practices with recommendations for evidence based policymaking and action planning. This was commenced in early 2014.
- A 6 M€ project related to Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) cooperation in the Horn of Africa and Yemen commenced in January 2015. The specific objective is to contribute to the national and regional capacity to meet international standards on effective anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing in the sub region, through capacity building and networking.
- A new project on law enforcement in the Horn of Africa and Yemen (11 M€) is in the process of being developed for implementation from mid-2015.
West Africa and the Sahel Region
- In the Sahel region, initially covering Mali, Mauritania and Niger, a 8.7 M€ project aims to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement (police, gendarmerie and garde nationale) and judiciary to fight terrorism and organised crime. The purpose of this project is to support the progressive development of regional and international cooperation against these threats.
- In order to strengthening the knowledge base for evidence-lead action for CVE in the Sahel, IcSP has recently initiated at 1.7 M€ project that will establish a regional network of research and expertise, and to establish and implement a methodology of “action research” combining academic research and practitioners.
- A study on the Boko Haram/JAS has been finalised to identify possible solutions to lasting peace in Nigeria.
See our work in other regions, or IcSP’s thematic activity in CT/CVE: