Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa

Over the last 10 years Africa’s Sahel region has come to Western attention as the home of active and dangerous jihadist groups capable of large, high-profile attacks. From Somalia-based al-Shabab and its attacks in Kenya to the 2015 hotel attacks in Bamako, Mali, perpetrated by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the threat of jihadist violence in Africa is becoming an increasingly urgent concern for both governments and counterterrorism experts. This is especially true in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has grown to be the region’s most deadly jihadist group, having killed upwards of 20,000 people and displaced over 2 million more.

However, discourse about the “rise” of jihad in the Sahel often focuses on the roles played by actors from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. Groups such as al-Shabab and Boko Haram are often portrayed as little more than extensions of the so-called Islamic State or al-Qaida, with struggles across the region seen as proxies in a global rivalry between the two groups. Because this line of thinking fits easily into the larger global narrative of the “war on terror,” the conversation around jihad in Africa ends up neglecting local histories and dynamics that shape the conflict

In Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenging the Narratives of the War on Terror, Dr. Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos provides a corrective to this view of the jihadist movements in the Sahel, examining the history of the region’s Islamic movements and providing the context through which the current conflicts can be better understood.

“Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenging the Narratives of the War on Terror.” Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos. New York: World Policy Institute, October 2016.