Terrorism and Political Violence in Africa: Contemporary Trends in a Shifting Terrain

James J.F. Forest, Jennifer Giroux


In 1994, Martha Crenshaw’s edited volume Terrorism in Africa made clear how terrorism – generally defined as a tactic that uses violence or the threat of violence as a coercive strategy to cause fear and political intimidation – was a feature within resistance movements, military coups, political assassinations, and various intra- and inter-state wars that have affected most African states at some point during the continent’s transition to independence and subsequent post-colonial period.  Crenshaw further noted that terrorism was not “an isolated phenomenon” for African states or the region more broadly [1]. This description remains salient today: terrorism has been a global phenomenon for many decades, and Africa has not been unscathed by it. Terrorism is just one of several types of political violence that states and their citizens, in Africa and elsewhere, have had to grapple with. In fact, from a macro perspective, terrorism may not be universally seen as the most important security challenge faced by African states and their citizens. Famine, drought, endemic poverty, diseases and other natural and man-made disasters that undermine human security have also been at the forefront of recent policy discussions on Africa among Western governments and international aid organizations. It is thus necessary to place terrorism within the broader terrain of Africa’s security challenges, before examining the historical trends and specific examples discussed in this Special Issue of Perspectives on Terrorism.

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

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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