John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Terrorism"

Thoughts on the Chadians, Boko Haram, and Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Chadian soldiers participate in the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2015, an exercise organized by the U.S. military in N'Djamena February 16, 2015. Courtesy Reuters/ Emmanuel Braun) Chadian soldiers participate in the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2015, an exercise organized by the U.S. military in N'Djamena February 16, 2015. Courtesy Reuters/ Emmanuel Braun)

Adam Nossiter wrote an article featured in the February 19 issue of the New York Times titled “In Nigeria, Boko Haram Loses Ground to Chadians.” While Nossiter says that it is too early to tell, others have declared that the Chadians have somehow “turned the tide” against Boko Haram. While the Nigerian federal government has remained relatively silent about the Chadians, they too have recaptured terroritory and claimed victories over Boko Haram. Read more »

What to Expect from the African Union Summit

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri). The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri).

This is a guest post by Jason Warner. He is a PhD candidate in African Studies at Harvard University, serving as a U.S. Government Boren National Security Fellow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Late January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia brings waves of impenetrable traffic, pan-African flags adorning the central Bole Road, and scarcely a vacant room in the city’s infamously hotel-filled landscape. The cause: the semi-annual African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit, which this year began on Friday, January 23. As the AU’s most important annual meeting kicks into high gear this week, here are some of the more pressing questions that observers and participants will have on their minds. Read more »

1,155 Rhinos Poached in South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A White Rhino and her calf walk in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West Province, April 19, 2012. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Home to the world’s largest rhino population, South Africa saw 1,155 rhinos illegally killed in 2014. That is a 15 percent increase on 2013’s 1004 poached rhinos. More than 4.6 percent of an approximate total of 25,000 rhinos in Africa were killed this past year in South Africa alone. Read more »

“Je Suis Charlie” and Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Displaced people gather as the Red Cross in Kano distributes relief materials to displaced victims of the Boko Haram violence, December 16, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

In the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a separate but apparently related January 9 attack on a Jewish supermarket, both in Paris, over 3 million demonstrated throughout France in solidarity against terrorism. In Paris, demonstrators numbered some 1.6 million. Read more »

Kenya’s Troubling New Anti-Terrorism Legislation

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis) Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

In mid-December, the Kenyan parliament passed counterterrorism legislation that has since been hotly contested by politicians, civil society leaders, journalists, and ordinary citizens alike for its alleged infringement on basic civil liberties. Read more »

Restrained South African Reaction to the Murder of Pierre Korkie

by John Campbell
A police trooper gestures as suspected al-Qaeda militants arrive in an armoured vehicle at the state security court in Sanaa, December 2, 2014. (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters) A police trooper gestures as suspected al-Qaeda militants arrive in an armoured vehicle at the state security court in Sanaa, December 2, 2014. (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters)

Pierre Korkie was a South African teacher working in Yemen, where his wife, Yolande, did hospital relief work. They were kidnapped by al-Qaeda operatives in May 2013. Yolande Korkie was released without ransom payment in January 2014. Pierre Korkie, however, was held for a $3 million ransom. On December 5, he was murdered by his kidnappers during the course of the failed U.S. effort to free American journalist Luke Somers, who was also killed. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update November 22-November 28

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from November 22 to November 28, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Kano, Nigeria, Mosque Attack Likely Aimed at Governor, Emir

by John Campbell
Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters) Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters)

The November 28 attack on worshippers at Kano’s Central Mosque killed at least 130, according to the Nigerian media. No group has claimed responsibility, though most observers appear to think it was Boko Haram. Read more »

Can the U.S. Help Nigeria Confront Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a long time Nigeria was Washington’s most important strategic partner on issues of security and stability in Africa. But, the Boko Haram insurgency and Abuja’s response to it has put that partnership in jeopardy. The movement and the Nigerian government’s failed response to it pose a dilemma for the Obama administration. On the one hand, Boko Haram is repellent, regularly resorting to terror against the highly vulnerable, including the murder and kidnapping of young people in school. On the other hand, the official security forces carry out atrocities against the local population, and the government has thus far failed to address the drivers of the insurgency, including political marginalization, accelerating impoverishment, and rampant corruption. This state of affairs has allowed Boko Haram to ramp up its military campaign in 2014, having killed over 3,600 civilians and seizing control of more than 10 towns in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram has also carried out cross-border operations, notably in northern Cameroon. Read more »

The U.S. Government Will Not Pay Ransom

by John Campbell
A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters)

ISIS and other Middle Eastern groups are notorious for kidnapping. However, for radical Islamist groups in the Sahel and northern Nigeria, ransom is also an important source of funding. In Nigeria, and probably elsewhere, most of the victims are indigenous. Families of kidnapping victims routinely pay to secure the release of loved ones. Read more »