Terrorism in East and West Africa

Terrorism in East and West Africa

The Under-focused Dimension

Nick Ridley

Since 9/11, despite extensive international efforts against global terrorism, there has been a misfocussing on the terrorism in Africa. This timely book draws upon the author’s experience as a former intelligence analyst, to give an account of terrorism in East and West Africa in the first two decades after the 9/11 attacks. It analyses why there is an incorrect strategic approach to this threat and will serve as a valuable compendium detailing terrorist groups and their activities in Africa to those studying terrorism.

Chapter 2: 9/11, reaction and a wave of global terrorism

Nick Ridley

Subjects: law - academic, terrorism and security law, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, terrorism and security


In reaction to the attacks on the morning of 9/11, the United Nations responded with vigour against both terrorism and financing of terrorism. Emergency sessions were convened and the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1373 which declared that the acts perpetrated constituted a threat to international peace and security. No international standardised definition of terrorism was established. Terrorism has two universally agreed aspects, namely that it is distinct, firstly, from a national liberation struggle and, secondly, from a criminal act or ongoing criminality. However, any attempt at international definition is constantly frustrated. One reason for this is that terrorism and counter-terrorism are the same in that they involve violence and intimidation, impact upon a broad spectrum of populaces and affect noncombatants. There is agreement in international law upon certain terrorist acts for specific purposes (such as financing of terrorism, terrorist recruitment), but there is no overall agreed definition. In the immediate reaction to 9/11, there was an opportunity to promulgate a unified definition as a basis of understanding when international governments, law enforcement and regulatory agencies were focused against a threat that had apparently assumed proportions hitherto unknown and unforeseen. However, paradoxically, the 9/11 crisis necessitating such focus and such a frenzy of international interface was the very reason why no such legal definition was forthcoming.

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