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 5: The Horn of Africa

Nick Ridley

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


A future history of terrorism in the Horn of Africa in the first decade of the twenty-first century will almost certainly have as its main trend the turbulent events in Somalia and the rise of al Shabaab. Yet, as stated in an earlier chapter, some indicators of the potential regional threat from the Horn of Africa were initially underestimated by the combined international efforts against terrorism in the years immediately following 9/11. Al Shabaab is a terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda, initially active in Somalia, but which has since expanded its activities into East Africa. It was formed in the mid-2000s as a result of the complex situation in Somalia. Somalia was a country, which had been riven by civil war and separatist movements for a generation. In the 1990s local groups, centring around the local Sharia law courts, began to impose some form of order in their localities, to the relief of the local trading community and residents. This movement grew and the courts became centres of power in themselves, even recruiting militias to maintain security and enforce their decisions. They coalesced into the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). The Union became an established and accepted force and brought stability to Mogadishu; they aligned themselves with popular feeling against the warlords. They ‘achieved what international military interventions and peace talks … [had] failed to achieve in fifteen years’.

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