Horn, Sahel and Rift
Fault-lines of the African Jihad
Profiles the spread of Islamist groups in Africa, and the growing links between them to determine whether their objectives may one day extend beyond the continent.
The 1998 attacks against US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attest to al-Qaeda’s durable presence in Africa, yet Islamist-inspired radical organisations in the continent have gained much attention of late, the result of their campaigns of insurgent and terrorist violence directed against the state in Algeria, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and Kenya. These groups include Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Harakat Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine. Evidence has emerged to suggest that beyond shared political objectives they are also collaborating in terms of finance, propaganda, arms transfers and training, while Western governments believe some of them maintain links with Al-Qaeda ‘central’.
Stig Jarle Hansen has been researching African radical violent Islamism for more than ten years and is well placed to explain how and why such groups emerged, whether they manifest any specific traits compared with other violent Islamists, and what is likely to be their impact beyond the African continent. He also discusses the response of African and Western governments to this phenomenon.
Stig Jarle Hansen is based at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Akershus, where he led Norway’s only MA in International Relations (2010-16). He has conducted extensive field studies in Africa, and is the author of the acclaimed Al-Shabaab in Somalia, also published by Hurst (2013).
‘A must-read for anyone seeking to understand modern terrorist movements and their ability to adapt and survive. Hansen’s detailed and sophisticated accounts of African jihadist groups show how global and local conditions interact in complex ways. Exemplary scholarship with an important message.’ — Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
‘This superb book bridges IR theory with detailed African case-studies to explore the global dimensions of jihad. How did the Islamic State, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram control territory and survive its loss? Hansen challenges the concept of ungoverned spaces, providing a dynamic comparative framework to understand violent jihadist networks in Sub-Saharan Africa.’ — Mia Bloom, Professor of Communication, Georgia State University Middle East Studies Center, and author of Bombshell: Women and Terror
‘A masterful analysis of Africa’s violent jihadist movements. Hansen combines historical depth with a compelling account of recent changes, integrating local interests with global dynamics. This meticulously researched study makes sense of the groups’ remarkable resilience. It will be read with great interest by security experts, policymakers and academic alike.’ — Jacob Wiebel, Assistant Professor in African History, University of Durham
‘Without discounting the influence of international jihadist networks, Hansen offers a measured and nuanced analysis of African groups, rooted in a deep understanding of local dynamics. A must-read for anyone interested in jihadism, groups’ formation and evolution, and African security.’ — Virginia Comolli, Senior Fellow for Conflict, Security and Development, IISS, and author of Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Islamist Insurgency