Director’s Message


Today, countering the appeal of terrorism emerges as a priority on the African continent. Terrorism is complex in that it is more than a normal criminal act committed for material or personal gain; it is wound up with ideological factors, social grievances, unresolved conflicts, politics, personal identity, religion, history, marginalization, exclusion and a lot of other factors. Society’s inability to properly and effectively rise up to the challenges posed by these factors eventually lead to the emergence of hotbeds for the spread of violence and recurrent insecurity and instability. Such a situation usually contributes to the creation of an enabling environment for recruitment and radicalization, where extremist and intolerant philosophical, political, religious, nationalistic and ethnic theories, ideologies and movements thrive and terrorism becomes appealing to some as an instrument of political activism.
Clearly, law enforcement, military action and intelligence operations, though necessary, do not suffice to counter this sociopolitical phenomenon.

Counter terrorism extends beyond disruption of terrorist activities, bringing the terror suspects to justice or having national counter terrorism strategies. The complexity of the phenomenon demands a holistic approach. Countries are called to adopt upstream prevention measures and downstream rehabilitation programs. Countries must focus on cutting ideological support of terrorist groups as well proactively counter-radicalize their sympathizer base. Promoting development, religious tolerance, dialogue and understanding are all part of this holistic approach.

An efficient case by case de-radicalization program is essential in order to ensure that those who were won to violent extremism are brought back into society as integrated and constructive citizens of the country.

Evaluation missions to African countries and regions carried out by the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) have revealed member states serious capacity deficit in this field.

As part of its contribution to the efforts aimed at reducing this deficit, the ACSRT has made it one of its priorities to enhance the capacity of the AU Member States on counter-radicalization and de-radicalization by organizing regionally based train the trainer capacity building workshops. The training workshops are also carried out in the spirit of enhancing member states’ capacity to align their counter terrorism programmes with relevant provisions of the UN global counter terrorism strategy, the Security Council resolutions 1624 (2005) and 1963 (2010) which, among other things, call for a holistic approach to terrorism, call on States to prohibit and to prevent incitement to commit acts of terrorism, to engage in international effort to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among civilizations and to recognize the importance of the support of local communities, private sector, civil society and media for increasing awareness about the threats of terrorism and more effectively tackling them.

These training workshops will provide African experts with a practical framework for analyzing the violent radicalization process such as the sources and various forms of radicalism and will carry out an in-depth study of the conditions that are conducive to its birth and development. They will also be ideal opportunities for sharing experiences and best practices on the combating of radicalism and extremism.

The current issue of the African Journal for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism is based on the proceedings and papers presented during the seminar organized by the ACSRT on radicalization and counter radicalization in the Sahel and North Africa.
This is the first in a series of seminars on the theme of radicalization, countering radicalization and countering seling violent extremist (CVE), which the ACSRT intends to organize in all the five regions of Africa. This workshop drew participants from the Sahel and North African countries who, during three consecutive days engaged enthusiastically in a very rich exchange of ideas and experience on radicalization and countering radicalization in the Sahel and North African regions.

This issue aims to provide the reader with a good understanding of the different national experiences in the subject matter, in a region which is becoming a hotbed for terrorism, radicalization and all sorts of organized crime.

A context which requires a good understanding not only from effect assessments point of view, but also one that requires the understanding and appreciation of the measures and mechanisms put in place by individual member states to face the challenges posed by the threat radicalization.

A better understanding of the radicalization process and the underlying conditions conducive to radicalization will capacitate countries to proactively formulate policies and programmes to counter violent extremist ideologies and practices. Such proactive programmes may include implementing good governance, undertaking programmes and policies that boost the welfare of citizens, running awareness campaigns against radicalization as well as implementing de-radicalization disengagement and /rehabilitation programs including prison-based rehabilitation programmes.

These workshops will not only help to improve the understanding of radicalization and extremism as factors that foster the development of terrorism, but will also help to develop a widely accepted methodology of drawing up and implementing de-radicalization programs.
They will also provide a platform for regional countries to share experiences, challenges and best practices that will be the basis for the formulation or reformulation of policies or programmes; implement de-radicalization programmes and jointly brainstorming on political, economic, social, legal and administrative measures for strengthening the fight against radicalization and extremism.
The workshops programme centred on:
– Bringing out the semantic differences between radical, extremism, religious and non religious extremism
– Identifying conditions that foster their appearance and development;
– assessing the level of radicalization in each Region of the Continent;
– Compiling National experiences to develop a compendium of best practices in countering violent extremism and radicalization;
– Developing a methodology to draw up and implement de-radicalization programmes including in prisons.
The workshop had the following objectives:
– Expose and evaluate the different national experiences of de-radicalization on the continent and across the world;
– Establish the major guidelines of an analysis or diagnosis grid for radical discourse;
– Design a common methodology for African States for developing and implementing de-radicalization programs and useful legal and administrative measures for strengthening the fight against radicalization.
– Enhancing regional, continental and international sharing of experience in the subject matter.