III-5. Violent Extremism and Social (Dis)order in Africa; Africa and Global Terror: Dimensions of Terrorism across the Sahel (friendly merged panel)

Conveners: Nadine Machikou Ngameni (University of Yaounde II, Cameroon); e-mail: nadngameni@yahoo.fr, Alessio Iocchi (University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy); e-mail: alesiocchi@gmail.com, Camillo Casola (University of Naples “L’Orientale”, Italy); e-mail: camillo.casola@gmail.com

Extremism and Social (Dis)order in Africa (proposed by Nadine Machikou Ngameni)
The relationship between violent extremism and poverty is well established. It has been underscored that Boko Haram, AQMI, or Al Shebab initially recruit both in Nigeria, Northern Africa, Mali, Cameroon and Kenya, from the pool of vulnerable, unemployed youths and Almajiris (street children begging in exchange of acquiring Quranic and moral teachings in Cameroon and Nigeria). For the Almajiris and the unemployed young people, without employable skills and the connections to get jobs, the mosque and the madrassa promises food and shelter (Davis 2012). This explanation has to be articulated around push-pull factors such as reputation (hero for defending country and religion), mental manipulation, fighting Islam’s enemies, obtaining paradise (Hassan 2012), etc. These various factors can be linked to a profound transformation of the pattern of social order in the four countries. These transformations are related both to changes of position of the youth, one of the most important segments of social cadets (with the women and the poor, to use the expression of Jean-François Bayart) as against the strong (old, male and wealthy). Marchal (2011) led emphasis on three main tools used by the al-Shabab in the recruitment process. The first one is da’wa and muhadara (orientation) which has a strong impact on the youth because of their age and their lack of religious knowledge. A second important point is the economic reward for killing people. A third tactic is a smart process of de-socialisation/re-socialisation of the young recruits. This has a number of consequences that could be positive (unifying the militias) or negative (provoking more resentment from the lay population) for the violent organisation. (Marchal 2011: 35). In the process, challenging generational privileges is very important and has been underlined by Muhsin Hassan in the driving factors (Hassan 2012). The identity of the youth is also very important in the radicalization process as Abdullahi (2013) rightly argued in the case of northern Nigeria, pointing to suppressed identities and resentments that were dormant during decades of military dictatorship and that emerged with the wave of democratization and have been brought to the forefront of identity contestations especially in the struggle for rights, power, privileges and resources. From 1999 up to now, a large part of generational (youth) identities which hitherto were at the backstage of events, suddenly rose to prominence, stimulating militancy in the South and insurgency in the North of the four countries. This panel intends to question the complex relationship between violent extremism and the quest for a moral, social and religious order on the one hand, and the production of disorder in Africa on the other hand. Presentations focused on socio-cultural reproduction, the fight against violent extremism and social order and disorder in various parts of Africa will be welcome.

Africa and Global Terror: Dimensions of Terrorism across the Sahel (proposed by Alessio Iocchi and Camillo Casola)
During the last fifteen years Africa has emerged as a relatively new battlefield for the so-called Global War on Terror (GWOT). The rise of Jihadi-Salafi organizations with different domestic and regional agendas represents a crude reality for many African countries, especially in the Sahel: Al Shabaab in Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali along with smaller allied groups and splinter cells, the so-called Boko Haram organization in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin; moreover it is possible to observe a rise of countless minor groups. Apart from the often misleading labelling under the “Jihadi-Salafi” category, these organizations share very few features: they resort to a variety of different ways to wage war (guerrilla-style, full-scale war, bush ambushes, etc.) and to support themselves, by exploiting existing trafficking routes, hijacking economic activities and assaulting villages and towns. Meanwhile, at a global level, the call for global Jihad has become more complex, giving place to an effective dichotomy in terms of ideology and strategy: the progressive decline of Al Qaeda and the contemporary rise in importance of Al Dawla Al Islamiyya (Islamic State, IS, banned in Russia and many other countries) represents a further element of destabilization and a sprawl of inner divisions and factional fights. In Africa, the continuing shifting in methods, tactics and strategies bears witness to an increased economic and military capacity of adjustment face to the various State-led responses. This configuration contributes to progressively redefine the evolving role of States and Jihadi-Salafi organizations in the present time. In light of the long academic discussions about the eventual decline of the State in Africa and about the formation of “buffer zones” of discontinuous sovereignty in border and peripheral areas, this panel welcomes papers that examine the current security situation and field practices adopted by both State and non-State actors in different Sahelian and Sub-Saharan countries in relation to terrorist concerns. In which way are those mainly Sahelian states reacting to this relatively new political situation? Which strategies are employed? Which have proved to be more efficient? What is at stake in those peripheral areas? What is effectively at stake in the each State political arena? The panel aims to gather paper which propose to contribute with insights about political and military governance in States facing terrorism activities, about the connection between Jihadi-Salafi organizations and informal (as well formal) actors and about the practices put in place by State and non-State actors to cope with the ensuing humanitarian crisis which terrorism unavoidably provokes.