The Lord’s Resistance Army: an African Terrorist Group?

Emma Leonard


The years since 9/11 have been characterised by the increasing threat of terrorist action in the  Middle East and South Asia. Yet Sub-Saharan Africa was has also become a region of concern. In 1998, it had been the scene of two Al-Qaeda attacks against US embassies; besides Africa is home to large Muslim populations. Since 9/11 African violent non-state groups unrelated to Al- Qaeda or to the wider Islamist movement have been recast as terrorist organisations. These groups primarily operate in conflict zones, an area of research that traditionally has not been the main focus of Terrorism Studies. Protagonists have at various times been called freedom fighters, rebels, warlords, insurgents or simply violent gangs. This article looks at the most notorious of African groups – the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA. It argues that some groups like the LRA have been recast as terrorist organisations not because of a change in their activities but due to a change in the geo-strategic environment they found themselves in the post-9/11 period. The LRA’s ideology and tactics will be judged against a broad definition of terrorism in order to test whether the group can, in an objective way, be called a terrorist organisation. It is concluded that the LRA is too ambiguous an organisation to be simply labelled in such a way. It is also suggested that the terrorism label has in fact been an obstacle to attempts to end successfully a confrontation that is now going into its 24th year. 

Full Text: PDF HTML

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions