Africa Offers a Lesson in How to Topple Terrorists

WORLD

The Nigerian terror group Boko Haram is losing territory. In the broader fight against terrorism, that’s an essential first step. (Christian Science Monitor)

What is Boko Haram? Use our resources to find out.

U.S. Marines relax with Senegalese Commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service operators at the conclusion of a three week military exchange in support of Africa Partnership Station in 2011.  Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy L. Solano, U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marines relax with Senegalese Commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service operators at the conclusion of a three-week military exchange in support of Africa Partnership Station in 2011.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy L. Solano, U.S. Marine Corps

Discussion Ideas

  • What is Boko Haram?
    • Boko Haram is a terrorist organization affiliated with both al-Qaida and Islamic State. (In fact, the group’s official name is Wilāyat Gharb Ifrīqīyyah, or “Islamic State West Africa Province,” ISWAP.) Boko Haram is based in northeast Nigeria, but has infiltrated Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Benin.

 

  • Although still a dangerous terrorist group, Boko Haram has seen its power decrease over the past several months. What are three major reasons the influence of Boko Haram has diminished?

 

  • Why is the loss of geographic territory an “essential first step” in fighting terrorism?
    • According to the CSM, “Holding territory is key to the longevity and expansion of extremist groups like Boko Haram because it provides a steady stream of food and other sources of financial support.”
    • “Territory also provides a base at which to train fighters, build bombs, and from which to launch attacks.”

 

  • How does the geographic territory help define the danger posed by a terrorist group?
    • According to experts, “Control of territory is a key feature of more established—and more dangerous—violent extremist groups . . . There is an organizational spectrum that ranges from ‘terrorist group’ to ‘insurgency’ to ‘insurgency plus,’ with the last referring to a group is also a governing force.”
      • A terrorist group is one which pursues political aims through the use of non-military violence and threats of violence. The Ku Klux Klan may be considered a terrorist group.
      • An insurgency is a terrorist group that has a discrete base of operations—its own territory. Boko Haram may be considered an insurgency.
      • Insurgency-plus refers to terrorist groups that are also acting as a local territorial government. Islamic State, which promotes itself as a caliphate, may be considered an insurgency-plus organization.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Christian Science Monitor: From Africa, an unexpected lesson in how to topple terrorists

Nat Geo: What is Boko Haram?

Nat Geo: What is ISIS?

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