Militancy and Violence in West Africa: Tracing Antecedents, Monitoring Trends, Identifying Actors, Anticipating Possibilities and Analysing Existing Preventive Mechanisms PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 13:44

This research looks at radicalisation of Muslims in West Africa, a region of growing importance in global strategic calculations. Although the proposal looks at radicalisation of Muslims in the region, it is important not to stigmatise the religion as one that is associated with violence or to “pigeon-hole” its adherents as easily susceptible to radical dispositions. Rather, the main consideration that underlines the choice of Muslim radicalisation is that some of those who have been radicalised in other parts of the world have claimed membership of the religion. It is thus of academic and policy importance to investigate the extent to which Muslims in West Africa share, (or might share) this sentiment.

Research questions

The key research questions include:

  • What are the root causes of the phenomenon, and how have their nature and manifestations changed over the years?
  • Which doctrine(s) are espoused by the affected groups what are the sources of this doctrine the Koran or the Hadith?
  • What are the Recruitment base(s) of these groups and the local, national, and where possible, the sub-regional issues exploited in the process of recruitment?
  • To what extent have problems spread, (or might they spread) from one country to another in the region?
  • What measures have the countries under investigation put in place to meet the challenges of a possible crisis emanating from the radicalisation of violence that are connected to the expression of faith?
  • How likely is it that a crisis emanating from faith-induced radicalisation in West Africa will have global ramifications, especially against the background of the region’s enormous natural resource endowment?
  • To what extent does the nature of national boundaries impact on these questions and how easily can weapons to be moved across borders in the event of conflicts rooted to radicalization?
Output and User Engagement

We envisage that three products will emerge from this project. First is a report which will address all the research issues identified. Second is a policy-briefing, which will be designed to assist policy-makers to better appreciate the issue of Muslim radicalisation in West Africa. Already, we are in discussion with groups and institutions that are potential end-users. The third output will be an edited volume.

This study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Dr. ’Funmi Olonisakin is the lead investigator and Professor James Gow, Professor of International Peace and Security in the Department of War Studies is co-Investigator. Other members of the research team include Drs Abiodun Alao and Olawale Ismail both at CSDG; and Drs Kwesi Aning and Thomas Jaye both of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Ghana; Dr. Kevin O’Brien of Alesia Consulting, UK and Dr. Ismail Rashid of Vassar College, USA.

For further information, contact: Funmi Olonisakin – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

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  1. Alao, A. Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Nigeria
  2. Anning, K., Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Ghana
  3. Jaye, T. and Alao, A.,Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Liberia
  4. Rashid, I., and O’Brien, K, Religious Militancy and Violence in West Africa: A Study of Islam in Sierra Leone
  5. Militancy and Violence Focus Group and Interviews Dataset