The use of women and children as weapons of war in northern Nigeria and in neighboring countries is undoubtedly horrific, there is often the tendency to paint the phenomenon with a broad brush that identifies the bombers as victims without agency, or the right of choice, in their fate. To the extent that this assumption has implications for response, it should be acknowledged that the question of agency is inevitably much more complex and uncomfortable. Certainly, no ten-year-old child can be said to be of a mental and emotional maturity to make such a fatal choice. However, the assumption that the women and children who have carried out these attacks are all abductees is false.
Published January 27, 2016 | By Sarah Silverman
The continuous contemporary news cycle alerts us daily to the mass violence and destruction carried out by radical and extreme violent insurgent groups, and the far reaching flow on effects. Groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East, Boko Haram in West Africa, and al-Shabab in East Africa, and al-Qaeda in both continents, have resounding impacts, both regionally and internationally. The violence perpetrated by these groups is spilling across borders in Africa and the Middle East, causing a migration crisis not seen in scale since the end of World War Two. With the world’s attention focused on border controls and refugee quotas, what has gleaned less focus is the response to returning defectors and the deradicalization process.
Published March 28, 2015 | By Ania Skinner
Jamāʻat Ahl as-Sunnahlid-daʻwa wal-Jihād (JAS), known widely as Boko Haram, has employed suicide bombers as a terrorist tactic in their insurgency against the Nigerian government since 2011. As of mid-2014, however, reports began to emerge of an alarming new dimension: the use of young women and girls in suicide missions. The first reported case of a female suicide bomber occurred on June 8, 2014, when a woman detonated her bomb near army barracks in Gombe state of Nigeria. Since that time, the rate of suicide bombings carried out by women has steadily increased.
Published September 23, 2013 | By Patricia Taft
The tragedy of the rampage at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya hit close to home for many of us at the Fund for Peace. Like countless others working the fields of international development, defense and business in Africa, most of us have had the occasion to spend time in Nairobi over the years. Nairobi has long served as a hub in East Africa and Kenya has been one of the continental leaders in Africa on everything from providing peacekeepers to the world’s most dangerous places to combating terrorism at home and further afield. It is in these last efforts, Kenya’s participation in the war on terrorism, which may have brought the tragedy home to Nairobi this weekend. It is also yet another example that underscores the dangers to innocent civilians emanating from neighboring weak and failed states and the half-measures employed to deal with them.
Not every explosion in northern Nigeria stems from the radicalism of Boko Haram. Nor is every outbreak of violence in the Niger Delta the result of militants fighting over oil revenues. Rather, violence in its different forms is an expression of a broader and deeper fabric of social, economic, political, and security challenges. Given the wrong set of underlying conditions, collective violence can spark seemingly out of nowhere, whether or not there is a formal paramilitary group active in the region. Even when such organizations do not exist, in an area with past and current episodes of insecurity, latent structures may still be there, to be crystallized at a moments notice--in the event of a political contest, land dispute, turf warfare, or chieftaincy tussle. Violence can sometimes be self-organizing. Just add water.
Published April 11, 2012 | By Felipe Umaña
Along with its increasing economic and environmental value, the Tri-border region has also risen in relevance after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as an area attractive to global terrorist organizations. The region is largely ungoverned due to weak, inadequate, or ignored laws. A myriad of shadowy black markets, pirated CDs, stolen cars, falsified documentation, and trafficked humans – among other commoditized “goods” – all pass through this region either completely undetected or with tacit acceptance from the local governments. Money laundering and tax evasion also form part of the colorful gamut of illegality that runs rampant in what a reporter has termed as “a terrorist’s paradise.” High rates of violence and petty crime also plague the region, and exist in tandem with poor money laundering controls and low government preparedness. All of these activities occur under the purview of corrupt officials, whose expanse throughout the governmental establishment lends continued permanence to the activities in the region.
Published February 15, 2012 | By Ed Nagle
Not long after the dawn of the nuclear age, few experts were optimistic that the spread of nuclear weapons could be contained. In 1963 it was anticipated that fifteen to twenty nations would likely come to possess nuclear weapons, let alone nuclear power, by the 1970s.1 It is easy to lose sight of this in contemporary discussions on nuclear proliferation. Yet at present we are faced with renewed pressure from state and non-state actors who desire to acquire nuclear arms. The apparent success of North Korea and potential success of Iran have created new regional pressures that have the potential to greatly increase the number of nuclear weapons states to a point not unlike President John F. Kennedy’s grim prediction in 1963. The years since the end of the Cold War have seen not only a transformation of the security environment, but also an evolution in the means and motives for procuring nuclear arms.
Published October 14, 2011 | By Kendall Lawrence
The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group that operates from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region of Pakistan. The group has been active mainly in the southeast of Afghanistan—in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni Wardak and, occasionally, Kabul provinces. For the past two years, the group has focused on gaining support and control of Kurram Agency, a province of Pakistan not far from Kabul, which is mostly beyond the scope of U.S. drone activity. It is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of the network’s founder, the famous anti-Soviet fighter and former CIA asset, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Network falls under the larger umbrella of the Taliban, although they maintain their own command and control structures.
Published October 14, 2011 | By Ryan Costello
Revelations from the 2004 exposure of the A. Q. Khan network have highlighted the importance of this region in global nonproliferation efforts. While terrorism is by no means constrained to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, the confluence of intent, knowledge and materials is found in this region. It remains uncertain if all nodes of the Khan network have been identified. Other leading Pakistani scientists have demonstrated a willingness to share nuclear knowledge if not material capabilities.
Al Shabaab, a hard-line militia group, controls most of southern Somalia and, until recently, a large swath of Mogadishu. Though the exact origins of al-Shabaab are unknown, most scholars believe that the group started as a military faction of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which took over Mogadishu and large parts of the south after intense factionalized fighting in 2006. Al-Shabaab has waged an insurgency against Somalia''s transitional federal government (TFG) and its Ethiopian supporters over the past five years. The full name of the group is Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM) meaning ‘Movement of Striving Youth.’ The fighters are a mix of local and foreign youth, attracted to the group by its claims to be the defenders of Somali dignity from outside invaders while it also calls for a broader global jihad.