Terrorism in East and West Africa
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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.
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Chapter 3: East Africa, terrorism and counter-measures

Nick Ridley


Writing as early as 2002, the doyen of post-9/11 terrorist studies, Professor Gunaratna, stated, ‘Apart from North Africa, al Qaeda’s influence in the continent is primarily concentrated in East Africa’. Accordingly, this chapter addresses the region of East Africa. For the purposes of considering East Africa it is inevitable that some form of country-by-country overview must unfold, but as part of this, common factors and regional trends will become apparent. The area of East Africa consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, with Sudan and South Sudan on the periphery. This chapter will deal with the East African countries, with Sudan and South Sudan discussed in the following chapter. As with all regions of Africa, areas are vast. Nations’ borders for the most part were a result of the former colonial era, where borders were arbitrarily fixed by diplomats and negotiators working back in their foreign ministries in their respective European capital cities, thousands of miles from the actual terrain. Such borders are difficult to maintain; they are porous and vulnerable to smuggling, itself an integral part of the trade traditions of nomadic peoples and shifting populations. There are also maritime difficulties in that the coastlines involved are characterised by trading carried out through a large constant traffic of small vessels, which are almost impossible to continuously monitor. There is also less political will to combat international terrorism in East Africa.

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