John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Osama Bin Laden and Africa

by John Campbell
May 5, 2011

A member of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) gestures in front of a portrait of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a pro-U.S. rally as the group celebrates bin Laden's killing, in Noida in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh May 5, 2011. (Parivartan Sharma/Courtesy Reuters)

Former CFR Africa intern and current CFR program associate Mohamed Jallow has an interesting and informative piece on Osama bin Laden’s involvement with sub-Saharan Africa. Regarding Nigeria, Jallow makes the point that while there has never been a proven material connection, bin Laden’s ideological impact has been significant, which likely informed the Nigerian government’s decision to increase security at its airports.

Read it here.

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  • Posted by Chike

    I respectfully disagree. The roots of Islamic fundamentalism in Sub-Saharan Africa are much deeper than Bin Laden. In fact, they precede Bin Laden by more than a hundred years so they will outlast Bin Laden.

    A major driving force of violence in the Sahel region of Africa is the competition between a rapidly growing Christianity moving Northwards and fundamentalist Islam. The secession of Southern Sudan is a logical consequence of this phenomena.

    The author also mentioned Boko Haram. Boko Haram may have been influenced by Al Qaeda, but I see them as spiritual successors of a certain Mohammed Marwa Maitasine who died in 1980. There were Maitasine riots as far back as 1982/83 in the same area (Maiduguri) that Boko Haram is active today. It is also instructive to note that Mohammed Marwa Maitasine was killed in the Kano insurrection in 1980.

    In summary, Osama Bin Laden was never really a big deal. The real problem are millions of poor, uneducated, illiterate and gullible young men traditionally prone to violence.

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