John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Al-Shabaab"

The Future of Islamic State Operations in Africa

by John Campbell
A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government aims his weapon as he takes up position inside a ruined house at the front line of fighting with Islamic State militants in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny)

As the self-proclaimed Islamic State loses ground in Syria and Iraq, there is increasing concern that it will gradually shift its operations to Africa. Indeed, in late 2016, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi claimed that the group had shifted elements of command, media, and wealth to Islamic State “provinces in north Africa and west Africa.” However, in a useful article Joseph Siegle of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies convincingly argues that the Islamic State is not well established in those areas of Sub-Saharan Africa where extremist Islamist groups operate. The two most violent groups, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, predate the formation of the Islamic State and are not dependent on it for operational or tactical support. Furthermore, it is the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that is the major ideological foundation of radical, Jihadi Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, rather than the Islamic State. Read more »

Are U.S. Efforts Successfully Countering Terrorism in Africa?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi, July 25, 2015. (Courtesy/Jonathan Ernst )

This post was co-authored by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn and Andrea Walther-Puri. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Andrea is a researcher focusing on security sector reform and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Read more »

Islamist Terrorism in South Africa

by John Campbell
A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the past few days, both the United Kingdom and the United States have warned their nationals of a possible Islamist terrorist attack in South Africa. The warnings cite upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town as the most likely targets. Read more »

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

by John Campbell
Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa Program has just “soft-launched” a new online tool we call the Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST). We anticipate a roundtable at the Council’s New York and Washington offices to introduce formally the SST. In the meantime, it is available for use. Read more »

The Surge of Insurgency/Terrorism in Recent Times: Social and Economic Consequences

by John Campbell
The flag of Nigeria is carried by Maryam Usman as the team enters the stadium during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, July 23, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Young)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered at the Nigeria Summit on National Security held by the Council on African Security and Development in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 25, 2016. 

Thank you for your warm introduction. It is a pleasure to be at this important conference, to see old friends, make new ones, and to be back in Nigeria. Read more »

ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram: Faces of Terrorism

by John Campbell
A member of militias known as Hashid Shaabi kneels as he celebrates victory next to a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, in the town of al-Alam March 10, 2015. (Courtesy/Thaier Al-Sudani)

In the aftermath of attacks on Nairobi, Beirut, Paris, and Bamako over the last few years it is becoming easier to distinguish between the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and their affiliates. These groups share a common beliefs system, but ISIS and al-Qaeda are rivals and perhaps enemies. Neither is monolithic and there are also significant differences between them and their affiliates, especially ISIS and Boko Haram, despite pledges of allegiance. Read more »

Conduct of Kenyan Security Forces a Cause for Concern in Fight Against Al-Shabaab

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech to be respected outside Kenya's parliament in the capital Nairobi, December 18, 2014. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In a report titled “Fighting Terror with Terror,” the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights confirmed over a hundred allegations of human rights abuses committed by Kenyan security forces since 2014. Meanwhile, recruitment in Kenya for the Somali extremist group al-Shabaab is at an all time high, suggesting a link between state-sponsored repression and growing radicalization. Read more »

The Closing of the Canadian Border

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Canada’s reputation as a country that offers safe resettlement to refugees is in sharp decline. From 1961 until the early 2000s, Canadian immigration policy welcomed both immigrants and refugees, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. However, Stephen Harper’s conservative government has made it increasingly difficult for refugees to resettle in Canada over the past decade. Nevertheless, in the lead up to the October 19 federal elections, immigration policy has not been the subject of public debate and most candidates have remained relatively silent. Read more »

Al-Shabaab’s Ivory Trade, Continued

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger walks past a pile of 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers before it was burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest-post by Andrea Crosta, co-Founder and Executive Director of Elephant Action League (EAL).

The Elephant Action League (EAL) is appreciative of this opportunity to justify our findings on al-Shabaab’s involvement in the ivory trade and our decision to not share certain details gleaned from confidential sources due to security and confidentiality reasons. Read more »

Al-Shabaab and Foreign Fighters in Kenya

by John Campbell
Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

The Kenyan military has announced that it killed a British subject, by appearance ethnically English, during an al-Shabaab attack on a military base in Lamu county. The Kenyan police have issued a $100,000 reward for the capture of a German national who appears to be ethnically German who also took part in the al-Shabaab attack. Read more »