Terrorism across Africa has shown little sign of going away, despite hundreds of millions of aid dollars pouring in over the past ten years and greater military presence on the continent by the United States, France, Russia, and others. A recent Just Security article by Eric Rosand looks to efforts to combat extremism in Central Asia as a potentially informative example for Africa to follow. What is most important, as various researchers and think-tank fellows have agreed upon, is that counterterrorism in Africa needs to be more holistic, transparent, and strategic going forward.
Voluntary joining of terrorist groups like Boko Haram or Al-Shabab fails to explain that many young Africans join up with these groups as a response to continued poverty, aggressive encounters with state security forces, and/or a lack of formal access to education and employment. Speakers at the International Peace Institute’s 2019 policy forum on reducing terrorism noted that seven out of ten Africans joined up with an extremist group following severe physical or verbal abuse by official security forces.
Vocational training and counter-narratives against religious rhetoric encouraging violence are two methods that would go a long way in reducing the likelihood of terrorist recruitment. Experts still believe that governments should be the central force in countering terrorism, with the caveat that there needs to be greater emphasis on transparency. Project monitoring must also be prioritized, to ensure that prevailing concerns like poor infrastructure, climate change. and human rights abuses are taken into consideration during project implementation.