April 11, 2024



A collaborated study by EUNACR’s War and Economic Intelligence Unit Research staff.


By: Shady El-Sherif, Mariah, Omar Sherif, Rumaysa Bekic, Bassant Owf, Eriny Girgis






The French intervention in Mali in early 2013 emphasizes that the decision-makers in Paris, Brussels, and Washington considered the establishment of the radical Islamist regime in Northern Mali a threat to their security interests. The widespread instability including the rise of radical Islamist groups in Somalia was perceived as a threat to western interests. It is the core argument of the paper if western powers decide to provide security in Africa, they will be inclined to use proxy instead of deploying own troops.



Security provision by proxy in African means that African troops are doing the actual fighting and peacekeeping on the ground while western powers basically pay the costs, the logistics, and the training of local African troops. The paper concludes that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Somalia and The African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) in Mali are proxies for the USA and the European Union.


  1. The Dilemma of Defining Terrorism


Terrorism, which is easily one of the most used words of the Twenty-first Century, has been defined by various national as well as international law practitioners, jurists, lawmakers, and academics. Still, there is no consensus when it comes to defining it, owing to the complexities and connotations attached to it. As one scholar commented, ‘it has become a real cliché; every paper on terrorism begins by noticing that the definition of terrorism is controversial’. However, this does not mean that the need for a definition should be ignored, or that a standard definition of terrorism is unattainable (Jacqueline &Victor, 2013).

In reaching a compromise on a definition of terrorism, it should be borne in mind that terrorism is a legal concept that entails significant legal consequences and should therefore have a legal definition. Terrorism is a serious crime that kills innocent civilians and threatens the peace and security of states. As a preliminary threshold for any effective counter terrorism strategy, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive, clear, and precise definition that complies with the principles of legality and legal certainty, and encompasses all the universally genuine terrorist conduct (Yin, 2007).

Walter Laqueur defined terrorism as “the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted”. Likewise, the word “political motivation” is not exclusive of the difficulties in Laqueur’s definition of terrorism due to the complicated motivations of a terrorist act.




However, according to Ben Saul terrorism is “any serious, violent, criminal acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury, or to endanger life, including by acts against property; whether committed outside an armed conflict; for a political, ideological, religious, or ethnic purpose.” (Yin, 2007).

From the United Nations perspective, and before the 9/11 attacks, there were two conventions directly related to terrorism. The first convention is the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings which was adopted in New York on 15 December 1997. The second International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999) was adopted on 9 December 1999 in New York. The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) was the international convention adopted post the 9/11 event. Article 2(1) of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings 1997 states that:


“Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally delivers, places, discharges or detonates an explosive or other little device into or against or place or public use, a State, a government facility, a public, transportation system or an infrastructure facility with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or be with the intent to cause extensive destruction of such a place, facility or system whereas such a destruction results in or is likely to result in major economic loss.” (Nordin & Imran, 2019)


  1. Why should governments prioritize fighting terrorism generally?


  • Human and Economic damages:

Terrorism has cost the global economy nearly $1 trillion since 2000. It peaked in 2014, marking 33,555 deaths, and a $111 billion economic impact. Between 2011-2014, Terrorism-related deaths and incidents increased by 353% and 190% respectively. By 2018, the economic impact of Terrorism had declined to $33 billion.

2)  In addition to the human and economic losses, terrorism comes with a variety of problems that are ranging from:

  • Migration/Displacement (like in Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, ..etc).
  • Psychological impacts (Traumas or PTSDs)
  • Climate Change, Sabotage of Civilian and Economic Facilities
  • Lack of instability and economic opportunities (like Shutting Egypt’s Tourism Sector for almost 5 years)
  • Fiscal losses (U.S. spends $5 billion annually on Terrorism)


  • Drivers of Terrorism in Africa


The 9/11 terrorist attack put terrorism on the priority list of the international security concerns and raised many fears that Africa could again be a potential safe haven for international terrorist networks. In 2003, the EU in its first security strategy securitized terrorism and identified it as a main security threat to its own security, the values of its democratic societies, as well as, the rights and freedoms of the European citizens.

Terrorist groups such as ISIS and AQIM have discovered suitable environment in Africa to grow. The current situation and the threats in Africa threaten not only regional security but these threats could reach and affect the European security. Two main security threats that Africa poses to Europe are migration and terrorist threats.

Africa and in particular Sub-Saharan Africa has increasingly come to be perceived in Europe as a source of illegal migration, international terrorism, and thus, a direct security threat to the European security. Europe’s internal security concerns have been externalized to Africa, transforming both Europe’s perception of African politics and its policies on the continent

According to the UNDP, Africa’s share of the global economic cost of terrorism increased from 4.2 per cent in 2007, to 20.3 per cent in 2016. The Drivers of terrorism may be segmented into Push and Pull Factors.


Push à Factors that drive an individual to Terrorism (Inequality, Discrimination, etc.)

Pull à  Factors that nurture the appeal of Terrorism (Money, Power, Ideology, etc.)

The Push and Pull Factors are influenced by these traits:


  • Family Circumstances: Childhood, Education, Mental Health
  • Religious Ideology: Misinterpretation of religious texts leading to Extremism
  • Economic Factors: Standard of Living, Quality of Life
  • State & Citizenship: Freedom of Speech, Self-determination, Disputed territory
  • Recruitment Process ‘tipping point’

Also, the enablers of terrorism can be fragmented into:

  • Technology: Internet, Portable easier devices, Data
  • Mass Media: Big terrorist attacks help in recruitment
  • Financing: Helps mobilize troops and resources


Emotions of ‘hope/excitement’ and ‘being part of something bigger’ were high among those who joined terrorist groups, indicating the ‘pull’ of opportunity for radical change
and rebellion against the status quo of circumstances that is presented by violent extremism. The journey to extremism in Africa appears to rely on community networks as a venue for recruitment, rather than the Internet that other regions relied on.

If an individual was studying or working, it emerged that that he or she would be less likely to become a member of an extremist organization. Employment is the single most frequently cited ‘immediate need’ faced at the time of joining. Individuals who joined terrorist groups but were studying or employed (not in vulnerable employment) at the time of joining the organization took longer to take the decision to join than did counterparts either in vulnerable employment
or unemployed. Respondents report uneven experiences in receiving salaries for being active members of extremist groups: some were paid above average, whereas at least 35% were not paid at all during their period of recruitment.

However, disaffection with government is highest by significant margins among the respondents who were recruited by violent extremist groups across several key indicators. These include the following:  a belief that government only looks after the interests of a few; low level of trust in government authorities; and bribe paying. Grievances against security actors, as well as politicians, are particularly marked, with an average of 78% rating low levels of trust in the police, politicians, and military. Those most susceptible to recruitment express a significantly lower degree of confidence in the potential for democratic institutions to deliver progress or meaningful change. Meanwhile, positive experience of effective service provision is confirmed as a source of resilience: respondents who believed that governments’ provision of education was either ‘excellent’ or ‘improving’ were less likely to be a member of a violent extremist group.

  1. How do immigration flows affect the level of terrorism in a country?

The migration-security nexus has received a large amount of attention in both the scholarly and public arenas, yet few studies have examined the relationship between migration and terrorism. While it is an open question as to whether migration and terrorism are causally linked, even less is known about the possible mechanisms by which migration contributes to terrorism. The public debate in Western Europe and the United States has focused largely on border security and ensuring that would-be terrorists do not infiltrate the homeland.

The theorized causes of terrorism are varied, but most modern research has focused on the strategic, economic, or ideological factors that contribute to increased terrorist activity.

While terrorism is often the result of a strategic choice that is believed to help further the tangible political goals of the terrorist group, this may apply less to politically fringe elements in mature democracies. These groups share few immediately realizable political goals, are rarely politically disenfranchised, and possess chauvinist ideologies where the primary enemy is not the state, but other people. An increase in migration both exacerbates the grievances among the far right and increases the saliency of migration as a political issue. These right-wing groups respond by committing terrorist attacks.

The causes of an increase in domestic terrorist activity depends on the ideological nature of the group and the goals they are trying to advance. By showing that social and political grievances matter more than economic competition in explaining right-wing terrorism, I suggest that tempering anti-immigrant attitudes, rather than providing economic security, may be a more effective strategy for policymakers looking to combat right-wing terrorism. In addition, these results show that fears about the potential terrorist threat posed by incoming refugees and migrants among the public in the United States and Western Europe are misplaced.


V.               Population Flows and Terrorism


Several works have focused on how international population flows are related to terrorist attacks by making it less costly to commit a terrorist attack or by providing incentives for terrorist groups to do so. Choi and Salehyan (2013) argue that the existence of refugees invites terrorist activity because areas with a substantial concentration of refugees have higher levels of loot able humanitarian aid. Choi and Piazza (2016) link internally displaced persons and suicide terrorism via human rights abuses. Milton, Spencer, and Findley (2013) show how refugee flows into a country cause the country to be the target of terrorist attacks.

Right-Wing Attacks and Foreign Population in Germany Notes: These maps show the spatial distribution of the total number of right-wing attacks that occurred in Germany from 2008 to 2015 and the average share of the foreign population during the same time period for each German state.







  1. Effect of social media and Technology on Terrorism

Terrorism have become more globalized, complex, and generally more challenging. Technology has been a primary enabler of this trend, offering bad actors’ opportunities to make their activities more innovative, larger in scale, and more concealed. The transformative benefits of digital technology to society and business are beyond doubt. Our modern lives depend to a great extent on mobile telecommunications and digital data storage capabilities. But technology carries an enormous dichotomy of value, with its very openness, global accessibility, and capacity for disruptive change susceptible to major abuse by criminal and terrorist actors (Europol, 2017). The scale and impact of terrorism in Europe today are of a different magnitude than at any other time in the recent past.  According to some researchers the convenience, affordability, and broad reach of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, terrorist groups and individuals have increasingly used social media to further their goals, recruit members, and spread their message. Attempts have been made by various governments and agencies to thwart the use of social media by terrorist organizations (Wainwright, 2018).

Terror groups take to social media because it’s cheap, accessible, and facilitates quick access to a lot of people. Social media allow them to engage with their networks. In the past it wasn’t so easy for these groups to engage with the people they wanted to whereas social media allows terrorists to release their messages right to their intended audience and interact with them in real time. “Spend some time following the account, and you realize that you’re dealing with a real human being with real ideas- albeit boastful, hypocritical, violent ideas”. Al- Qaeda has been noted as being as being one of the terror groups that uses social media the most extensively. “While almost all terrorist groups have websites, al Qaeda is the first to fully exploit the internet. This reflects al Qaeda’s unique characteristics.”   (Anne et al, 2017), (Wainwright, 2018).

Moreover, terror leaders communicate regularly with video and audio messages which are posted on the website and disseminated on the internet. ISIS uses social media to their advantage when releasing threatening videos of beheadings. ISIS uses this tactic to scare normal people on social media. Similarly, Western domestic terrorists also use social media and technology to spread their ideas.

Many authors have proposed that media attention increases perceptions of risk of fear of terrorism and crime and relates to how much attention the person pays to the news. The relationship between terrorism and the media has long been noted. Terrorist organizations depend on the open media systems of democratic countries to further their goals and spread their messages. To garner publicity for their cause, terrorist organizations resort to acts of violence and aggression that deliberately target civilians. This method has proven to be effective in gathering attention. ISIS has emerged one of the most potent users of social media. In many respects, Islamic State learned their propaganda craft from al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

However, ISIS quickly eclipsed its mentor, deploying a whole range of narratives, images and political proselytizing through various social media platforms (Lewis, 2015). A study by Morgan (2015) estimated that at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters between September and December 2014. However, as ISIS supporters regularly get suspended and then easily create new, duplicate accounts (Lewis, 2015), counting ISIS Twitter accounts over a few months can overestimate the number of unique people represented by 20–30% (Shaun et al., 2016).

The impact of social media on international terrorism has been less pronounced, largely because terrorist actors still primarily engage in planning and staging physical (rather than virtual) acts of harm. In one respect, however, technology has had a decisive effect on expanding the global community of terrorist actors. More than any other terrorist group in history, ISIS has exploited the power of social media to aid its efforts and objectives. Around 150 different social media platforms have been used by the organization as a means of recruitment and to spread propaganda using high-quality videos and other media. (Wainwright, et al, 2017).

Viewing figures for content curated by ISIS run into the millions, and this has certainly played an important role in swelling the ranks of those who have flocked to Syria and Iraq in recent years to join the cause a new “Islamic Caliphate.” From the EU alone, an estimated 5,000 people have travelled to become part of this new community of so-called “foreign terrorist fighters” (FTFs). These numbers seen in Afghanistan in the 1980s or in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s. (European Parliament Committee, 2015). Radicalized and hardened by their conflict experience in Syria and Iraq, and trained specifically for that purpose by ISIS commanders, members of the FTF community returned to hit Paris and Brussels in such devastating circumstances in late 2015 and early 2016.Some thousands more FTFs remain in Syria and Iraq, even in the face of a seriously declining military position for ISIS, or are at least unaccounted for.


It cannot be denied that although terrorism has proved remarkably ineffective as the major weapon for taking down governments and capturing political power, it has been a remarkably successful means of publicizing a political cause and relaying the terrorist threat to a wider audience, particularly in the open and pluralistic countries of the West. When one says ‘terrorism’ in a democratic society.

While a media organization may not support the goals of terrorist organizations, it is their job to report current events and issues. In the fiercely competitive media environment, when a terrorist attack occurs, media outlets scramble to cover the event. In doing so the media help to further the message of terrorist organizations, the recent history of terrorism in many democratic countries vividly demonstrates that terrorists do thrive publicity, this does not mean that the established democratic media share the values of the terrorists. It does demonstrate, however, that the free media in an open society are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by ruthless terrorist organizations.  One notable example of the relationship between terror groups and the media was the release of the Osama bin Laden audio and video recordings. These tapes were sent directly to mainstream Arabic television networks (Imran, 2017).

Anyways, using social media technology and data in this way has brought significant benefits and the large law enforcement community it serves in Europe and now the United States, among others. An exponential rise in data collected from growing numbers of users has allowed Europol for instance to see and understand more of the criminal and terrorist activity currently threatening Europe. This has led to the generation of more intelligence leads, which national authorities have used to annually run four times as many interdiction operations across Europe than Europol was able to facilitate less than five years ago (Europol, 2017). Much of this enhanced capability has been used to target activity in Europe’s highest priority threat areas, including cybercrime, people smuggling, and terrorism, thereby helping to make a unique contribution to top political concerns that have been a feature of discourse in the EU since 2015.



In the wake of recent terrorist attacks and in direct response to the political narrative for better intelligence sharing between national authorities, Europol’s platform facilitated the collection, exchange, and analysis of over half a million intelligence reports relating to terrorism in Europe between (2015–2017).

  • How Terrorism in Africa Affected the EU Decision-Making

The main four policies that was adopted by the EU to counter terrorism in Africa are: (1) border controls; (2) countering the financing of terrorism; (3) fostering regional cooperation; and (4) strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights.

The EU response and decisions to terrorist threat from Africa have evolved and expanded from legislating on its own territory to strongly encouraging African governments to legislate on their territories.

Since the series of terrorist attacks in 2015, the EU has adopted various measures to fight terrorism such as; 1) enhancing information exchange between the European countries and Africa, 2) strengthening cooperation between the European countries and African countries, as well as 3) reinforcing checks at external borders.

In 2020, after the terrorist attacks in France, Germany and Austria, the EU home affairs ministers agreed to further strength their joint efforts to fight terrorism, without compromising the EU common values such as; democracy, justice and freedom of speech.

Certainly, the EU established its own list of terrorists, but it has done so with a certain caution. Surprisingly, Al Qaeda did not appear on the EU’s list. While, French intelligence services identified Al Qaeda as the main terrorist organization operating in North-Western Africa. The EU response to the terrorist threat in Africa may reflect the lack of consensus within the EU, over the reality of this threat and the means to address it.

Moreover, The EU emphasized in its security documents that the two security threats of terrorism and migration are closely associated and linked with each other. Since 2003, the issue of migration started to be considered by the EU in the security context on the domestic and international level. As in its first security strategy, the EU identified immigration as one of its main security threats. The impact of migration on international terrorism was highly noticeable.

The emergence of immigrant-multicultural societies creates the suitable environment for the terrorist activities. Thus, migration is a threat to the security of the EU. Migrants are one of the groups from which members of terrorist groups may enter the European borders. The most serious problem to Europe is the attempt of the members of terrorist groups to infiltrate Europe, to then organize structures, prepare and conduct terrorist attacks there.

Illegal immigration from Sub-Saharan Africa has become increasingly spectacular, with ever higher numbers of young Africans trying to cross the borders and to reach Europe. European perceptions that this illegal immigration posed a threat to the continent’s stability and prosperity have been heightened through securitization and anti-immigration policies. As a result, discourse. Controls at the European borders have become ever tighter and immigration policies more restrictive.


  • Enhance understanding of the drivers of violent extremism. As a first step, national stakeholders should undertake an objective assessment of local and national factors conducive to extremist violence, taking stock of the perceptions of the society’s diversity.


  • Tailor CVE interventions according to the level of the violent extremist threat. A fundamental element of successful CVE interventions will be the alignment of actions with the combination of drivers affecting each country context. Tailor-made approaches will have the greatest potential for impact.


  • Increase public service delivery and accountability. Expanding access to and accountable delivery of public goods and services to historically marginalized regions and groups is a critical early measure to begin mitigating socioeconomic and political tensions in society.


  • Build synergies between development assistance and CVE objectives. Identifying synergies within existing and planned development assistance at the national and international levels to address drivers of violence and violent extremism is a strategic necessity for designing a holistic approach to CVE.


  • Enhance inclusive community engagement. Trust between communities and its government is an important element of resilience. Beyond the need for transparency, public accountability, and active engagement of civil society, authorities must ensure that counterterrorism laws and policies adhere to the rule of law and fully safeguard human rights.


  • Increase the effectiveness, diversity, and accessibility of platforms for political activism. Universally accessible mechanisms for peacefully achieving change can greatly reduce the risk of political violence. They are critical to correct for unresponsive and unrepresentative governments, reorienting them to effectively address societal needs.


  • Address youth illiteracy, unemployment, and the challenges of rapid urbanization. Expanding opportunities for gainful employment, encouraged by measures such as vocational training and micro financing, for the region’s growing population of young people can strengthen society’s resilience to violence and violent extremism.


  • Engage the private sector. Beyond promoting entrepreneurship and providing vocational training, the private sector can support grassroots initiatives and empowerment programs by providing access to professional networks, communication tools, and financial and other resources.


  • Develop common metrics for the monitoring and evaluation of CVE programs. The inclusion of monitoring and evaluation components in project timelines and budgets across the region and the publication of findings are key in understanding and enhancing the impact of CVE programs.


  • Family circumstances, childhood happiness and education. Supporting community outreach on parenting, domestic violence and providing child- welfare services. Ensuring provision of education for all in at-risk areas (SDG 4), together with social protection interventions to ensure sustained attendance at school. Upgrading school curricula and teaching quality, enabling the development of critical thinking, social cohesion, peace education and civic engagement values from childhood.
  • Religious ideologies. Supporting and amplifying the voices of traditional religious leaders who challenge misinterpretations of Islam and preach religious tolerance and inter-faith cohesiveness;

– Providing opportunities for religious leaders to network and develop national and regional PVE strategies of their own;

– Investing in the development of community-led governance systems providing transparent and accountable leadership of religious affairs. Such systems should include mosque management, development and dissemination of curricula by religious preachers and madrassas, and engagement with parents on teaching content;

– Capitalizing on the important role that religious teaching can play as a source of resilience and supporting increased religious literacy among at-risk groups.

  • Economic factors. Investing in the economic regeneration of
at-risk areas, upgrading infrastructure, access to markets and financial services, removing obstacles to entrepreneurship, and prioritizing job-creation opportunities;

– Providing immediate as well as long-term livelihood programmes and entrepreneurship training and schemes for at-risk youth, integrating citizenship values, life skills and social cohesion curricula into programme design;

– Working with demobilized former recruits to develop and communicate narratives designed to disincentive at-risk groups regarding the economic opportunities of recruitment;

– Developing strategies that learn from the
challenges of past disarmament, demobilization
and reintegration (DDR) processes and successfully provide economic incentives and alternatives
for violent extremist recruits – engaging wider communities so as to avoid being seen as ‘rewarding’ those recruited.

  • State and citizenship. Improving service delivery across the spectrum of security and other basic services provided by the state, integrating citizens’ oversight and engagement as part of delivery;

– Amplifying the effectiveness of anti-corruption campaigns with renewed emphasis on building state-citizen confidence and accountability, ending impunity for officials;

– Deepening democratic institutions and processes, and supporting related civic-education processes;

– Supporting initiatives to build national identities, social cohesion and citizenship.

  • The ‘tipping point’. Escalating the implementation of security-sector reform processes tailored to the specific challenges
of violent extremism. These should be grounded in international humanitarian law, standards and rights- based approaches, integrating civic oversight and confidence-building mechanisms;

– Supporting community-led mentoring and trauma-counseling services;

– Implementing counter-messaging programmes that are highly contextualized in vernacular cultures, emphasizing peer-group factors and influences, and delivered through DVDs, SMS, radio and community centers, avoiding over-reliance on the Internet, and drawing on trusted local organizations as ‘messengers’;

– Scaling-up amnesty and other exit opportunities for disillusioned recruits, investing in comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration services;

– Leveraging the perspectives and voices of former recruits as conduits for counter-messaging.




How EU Support of the African Peace and Security Architecture Impacts


To address the root causes of conflict and deprivation in Africa, the EU should:


  • Strengthen democratic institutions for development and sustainable democracy.


  • Establish an early warning mechanism with particular reference to electoral processes.


  • Use a multi-pronged approach with the instruments currently available to the African Union such as the Democracy, Governance and Elections Charter.


  • Implement action through the regional economic communities and national level.


  • Support domestic democratic institutions like electoral processes.


  • Reward democracies through economic cooperation and development.


  • Build greater uniformity in European foreign policy.




















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