Constructing to destroy: a critical examination of the role of identity construction in the study of terrorism in west africa

ABSTRACT
Terrorism  is  one  of  the  greatest  security  threats  to  many  West  African  states  currently.  For instance, in the Lake Chad Basin area, Nigeria and other states are aggressively fighting the Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) militants. Westward toward the Sahara is another group of five states, the G5 Sahel Group, also fiercely fighting incessant violence by jihadist groups affiliated to al Qaeda and the Islamic State. However, rather than shrinking, terrorist  groups  appear  to  be  swelling  in  the  face  of  national,  multinational  and  regional counterterrorism  efforts.  This  study  questions  the  basic  philosophy  driving  the  current counterterrorism strategies in West Africa. It seeks to understand the identity of the terrorist in West Africa through a critical lens and the implication for counterterrorism strategy.

The study is framed within Critical Terrorism Studies (CTS) theory, keeping a skeptical attitude toward the dominant understanding of terrorism discourse. The methodology is heavily influenced by the choice  of  the  CTS  perspective  employing  multiple  sources  –  interviews,  media  reports  and speeches. Coded data were analysed thematically within the CTS framework. The study found that adopting a CTS approach in defining terrorism offers a more robust, more contextualized and clearer framework for defining terrorist acts unlike the existing conceptualization. It further found that terrorism in West Africa has assumed a patron-client structural dynamic.  Consequently, the study identified, firstly, the “terrorist sponsor” as a complex elitist network of politicians, religious leaders, ethnic leaders and economic leaders who have diverse interests in the perpetuation of terrorism; and secondly, the “terrorist combatant” who, with the help of misinterpreted Islamic doctrine, is recruited, trained, armed and commissioned by the “terrorist sponsor” to carry out acts of violence. The relationship  between the  two  is  hinged on  mutual  benefits derived  from  the clientelist structure of society.  This study, therefore, recommends a redefinition of terrorism in West Africa based on CTS conceptualisation and the sub-region’s unique structural, social and historical circumstances. CTS inspired and West African contextualized definition of terrorism will  clearly  identify  what  a  terrorist  incident  is  and  what  is  not  and  will  adopt  appropriate preventive  terrorism  strategies  at  the  structural  level  using  political,  religious,  economic  and communal or ethnic means to break the bond between sponsors and combatants. Again, strategy formulation  and  implementation  should  significantly  involve  all  the  three  key  levels  –  the ECOWAS Community level, national level and local community level. 

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APA

Africa, P. & Atta, F (2021). Constructing to destroy: a critical examination of the role of identity construction in the study of terrorism in west africa. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/constructing-to-destroy-a-critical-examination-of-the-role-of-identity-construction-in-the-study-of-terrorism-in-west-africa

MLA 8th

Africa, PSN, and Francis Atta "Constructing to destroy: a critical examination of the role of identity construction in the study of terrorism in west africa" Afribary. Afribary, 07 Apr. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/constructing-to-destroy-a-critical-examination-of-the-role-of-identity-construction-in-the-study-of-terrorism-in-west-africa. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

MLA7

Africa, PSN, and Francis Atta . "Constructing to destroy: a critical examination of the role of identity construction in the study of terrorism in west africa". Afribary, Afribary, 07 Apr. 2021. Web. 16 Jul. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/constructing-to-destroy-a-critical-examination-of-the-role-of-identity-construction-in-the-study-of-terrorism-in-west-africa >.

Chicago

Africa, PSN and Atta, Francis . "Constructing to destroy: a critical examination of the role of identity construction in the study of terrorism in west africa" Afribary (2021). Accessed July 16, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/constructing-to-destroy-a-critical-examination-of-the-role-of-identity-construction-in-the-study-of-terrorism-in-west-africa