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Newsletter: African Terrorism Bulletin Issue 2
2 March 2005
ISS - African Terrorism Bulletin
March 2005 | Issue 002

Welcome to the second edition the African Terrorism Bulletin. The quarterly newsletter is produced by the Organised Crime and Corruption Programme of the Institute for Security Studies. The aim is to provide balanced information, analysis and critical perspectives regarding terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies on the African continent.

The information in this and future African Terrorism Bulletins will be based on ‘open source` information. Despite that, commenting on developments relating to terrorism remains a sensitive issue. The Bulletin will endeavour to steer through the different agendas that form part of the discourse on terrorism in a critical and balanced way. Comments and critiques from readers will assist us in remaining on the right path.


Possible link between AIDS orphans and terror debated in Davos
African weapons of mass destruction?
Al Qaeda bases on the continent?
Death of a Journalist
The embassy bombings: An ongoing saga
Terror suspects may be freed
Multilateralism and donor aid to fight terrorism
Pursuing the Sinai Bombers
Tackling Bio-terrorism
British colonial forces accused of terror tactics in Kenya
Algiers Convention: status of ratifications
SA terror bill signed into law
Africa: the breeding ground for terrorism?
Terrorism and Africa
University of Leeds Scholarship
Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence


One of the most contentious and ongoing debates in the field of terrorism is the question of causality of the phenomenon. Increasingly, analysts are steering away from formulating anti-terrorism strategies only; a concerted effort has been put into the study of the underlying causes of terrorism. Some analysts offer single-level explanations; typically they would identify a single cause of terrorism, such as poverty, religion or ideology. Others look at multiple root causes or explanations including individual, political, economic, cultural and religious levels.

Post 9/11, Africa is often credited with the dubious honour of being the ‘breeding ground of terrorism” (refer to the “Critical Perspectives` section). The argument goes that Africa because of its porous borders, lax security, political instability, a lack of state resources and capacities, impoverished populations and an abundance of weapons creates the perfect environment for the recruitment and breeding ground for terrorists.

The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS has taken this argument a step further (Refer to the top story “Possible link between AIDS orphans and terror debated in Davos”).

A report which was presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland says, “ It is undeniable that AIDS, and the deadly conflicts that have ravaged Africa, have created a steady stream of orphans that can be exploited and used for terrorist activities.” The report paints a rather bleak future for about 13 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. The coalition claims that the orphans are vulnerable for exploitation by terrorists. A suggested approach is an investment in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Whereas the increased funding of HIV/AIDS relief is a laudable undertaking, the link between AIDS orphans and future terrorists should be regarded, at the very best, as tenuous.

Reports and analyses dealing with the root causes often fail due to oversimplification and single-level analysis.

A working group at the recent International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security in Madrid divided the root causes of terrorism into individual, political, economic, cultural and religious levels. There was an agreement amongst scholars from around the world, that there was no one cause at any of these levels, but that there were risk factors at each of these levels, and that these risk factors interacted with one another.

Terrorism remains a multi-faceted phenomenon. Each terrorist movement and incident should be analysed in its own specific context taking individual, political, economic, cultural and religious risk factors into account. There is not one single ‘capture them all` method. Predicting future terrorist activities will remain a difficult undertaking, as there is no set formula. The threat of terrorism is real and cannot be eliminated; yet it can be contained. Perhaps the Global Business Coalition`s suggested approach points into the right direction: Dealing with structural inequalities, both national and international-many of which are designed to benefit the wealthy and powerful including the world`s largest corporations, poverty alleviation and social and economic upliftment programmes, the global implementation of and adherence to democratic principles combined with a counter-terrorism strategy may only begin to address the scourge of terrorism.
Visit the website of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security


Possible link between AIDS orphans and terror debated in Davos
January 2005-The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBC) released a discussion paper at the World Economic Forum in Davos, that proposes a link between HIV/Aids and terrorism in Africa. The report examines the economic and social impact of AIDS virus in Southern Africa, where more than twenty million people have been killed by the virus. The paper highlights not only the economic impact of the disease, but also the link between mass-orphaning and terrorist recruitment. The Global Business Coalition points to more than twelve million HIV/Aids orphans in sub-Saharan Africa that are deemed to be potential recruits for terrorist organisations. The report draws on similarities between child soldiers and children used as suicide bombers by certain terrorist groups. Without caring adults, children could be manipulated into doing almost anything. The paper cites the example of child soldiers that have been used to fight many battles in Africa. HIV/Aids is increasingly seen as an emerging global security threat.

The paper argues that high mortality rates in the armed forces and the police service would leave states with little capacity for law enforcement and other security operations. The pandemic would result in reduced economic performance in the long run and, in the worst case scenario, maybe even state failure. And it is under these circumstances, the GBC report claims, that a new generation of terrorism recruits could be bred.

On a brighter note, the coalition acknowledges that HIV/Aids is a preventable disease. Africa could be safeguarded from becoming the recruitment and breeding ground of terrorism by a stronger emphasis, investment and strategy on the prevention of HIV/Aids.
Read the Voice of America report
Download the full report from the GBC webpage


African weapons of mass destruction?
February 27 2005-South African National Intelligence Agency (NIA) director Billy Masetlha has voiced his concern about missing ‘weapons of mass destruction` in Africa. He referred to weapons-grade uranium from a nuclear enrichment programme run by the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in the former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The NIA is also worried about a missing Stinger anti-aircraft missile that was given to the Angolan rebel faction Unita in the 1980s.

Mobutu had set up a programme that could produce the explosive component of a nuclear bomb, with the help of ‘a Western power`. Former Zaire`s nuclear programme was discontinued in the early 1990s due to security problems. Mobutu, a Cold War ally of the West, was toppled by Laurent Kabila in 1997. The decommissioning seems to have been incomplete and questions remain about equipment unaccounted for. Masetlha fears that the missing materials could end up in the hands of criminals or terrorists. Both scenarios are dangerous since criminals could sell the material to any interested buyers.
Read the Sunday Times report at Allafrica

Al Qaeda bases on the continent?
February 16 2005-Al Qaeda has opened recruiting and training bases in N igeria, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. This was suggested in a United Nations report written by terrorism experts appointed by the UN Security Council to monitor sanctions against al Qaeda and the Taliban. The report says that due to pressure on their traditional areas of operation, al Qaeda was looking to expand to new areas, and had been looking to the “poorly policed” areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
Read the Free Press News Services report

Death of a Journalist
February 9 2005-After the recent war in Iraq, few view journalism as a safe occupation. Apart from being caught in the crossfire, journalists are sometimes targeted on purpose. Recall, for example, the death of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Somalia has now joined the list of countries that has seen violence against journalists. A BBC producer, Kate Peyton, was recently killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Peyton was in the country to cover the relocation of the Somali transitional government from exile. It is believed that she was targeted by a group opposed to the government or by a group opposed to the deployment of regional peacekeepers that will assist the new government in creating a secure environment. Links to Al Qaeda have not been excluded.

A Sudanese national and two Kenyans were detained in northeast Kenya near the border with Somalia and linked to the killing of Peyton. They were travelling along a normally unpatrolled road. Kenyan authorities believe that terrorists have used the route in the past, notably to transport bombs and other weapons from Somalia to Kenya for the deadly Paradise Hotel bombing. The link to Peyton`s death was established through their possession of documents detailing her death. Despite recovering these and other documents, training pamphlets, mobile phones and an undisclosed amount of money, the Kenyan police have released two of the suspects due to lack of evidence to charge them. The remaining suspect will be charged with immigration violations, a tactic that Kenyan authorities have employed in the past when they were concerned with the admissibility of evidence in terrorism charges.
Read the Mail & Guardian report
Read the BBC report
Read the VOA report

The embassy bombings: An ongoing saga
February 18 2005-Almost seven years after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the wheels of justice are spinning furiously to bring the episode to a close. In the US, a federal judge recently refused to grant a retrial to the three men convicted of the bombings. Defence lawyers were seeking a retrial because of the US government`s failure to disclose 28 hours of tape of 17 teleconferences between prosecutors and FBI agents and a crucial witness, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl, before the trial commenced. The defence only learnt of the taped interview after the men had been convicted and, on request, received 647 pages of transcripts of the tape 15 months after the sentence. However, US federal judge Kevin Duffy plans additional hearings on whether the evidence had been improperly suppressed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has handed over to the US the suspected mastermind in the embassy bombings, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. He was arrested in the central Pakistani town of Gujarat last year along with two South African nationals. Pakistani officials say the suspect was handed over to the US because he was not wanted for any crimes in Pakistan.
Read the BBC report
Read the CNN report
Read the story in the previous newsletter

Terror suspects may be freed
March 4 2005-The trial of three suspects in the Mombassa bombing and the attack on the Israeli jetliner could hang in the balance. A leading bomb expert attached to President Kibaki`s security team is expected to testify in the case. If he fails to appear in court, the three suspects will be released on bail. Charles Idi Juma is currently travelling with president Kibaki. It is unclear how soon he will be able to testify. Meanwhile, the defence lawyers argued that the only fair deal would be to release the accused on bail awaiting Juma`s evidence. They also said that their clients had suffered in custody since 2002, and should be released on bail.
Read the Nation report on Allafrica
Read the story in the previous newsletter


Multilateralism and donor aid to fight terrorism
March 11 2005-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has launched a five-point United Nations strategy to combat terrorism at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security in the Spanish capital Madrid. Annan outlined what he called the “five D`s strategy”: dissuading the disaffected from choosing terrorism, denying terrorists the means to carry out attacks, deterring state support, developing state preventive capacity and defending human rights in the fight against the scourge. The summit coincided with Spain marking the first anniversary of a terrorist attack on railways that killed nearly 200 people and injured more than 2000. Annan stressed the need for the world community to help fund poor countries that cannot afford to build the capacity needed to fight terrorism. Multilateralism, full international cooperation and donor aid were vital if the war on terrorism were to have any chance of success. He proposed a UN special envoy to monitor whether governments` counter-terrorism measures conformed to international human rights law. "Compromising human rights cannot serve the struggle against terrorism," he said. "On the contrary, it facilitates the achievement of the terrorists` objectives by provoking tension, hatred, and mistrust of governments among precisely those parts of the population where he is most likely to find recruits."
For more details go to the UN News Centre

Pursuing the Sinai Bombers
February 22 2005-In the wake of the Taba Hilton bombing in October last year, the Egyptian government has taken a hard-line approach in dealing with suspected terrorists in that country. International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released an alarming report. It says that Egypt was holding up to 2400 people without charge four months after the terror attacks, subjecting many of them to torture. The authorities deny the torture but they have not contested the claims of Egyptian human rights organisations that security forces had rounded up close to 3000 people following the bombing. HRW says that the government had not released information on the whereabouts of the detainees either to their families or lawyers representing them, and had not indicated if any had been charged with crimes. Despite the mass arrests, the authorities had identified only nine suspects as responsible for the attack. According to Egyptian authorities, the bombings were the work of a small, isolated group, and claims that they form part of a larger Al-Qaeda network in Egypt have been dismissed.
Read the Human Rights Watch report “Egypt: Mass arrests and Torture in Sinai”
Read the Sydney Morning Herald article
Read the story in the previous newsletter

Tackling Bio-terrorism
March 1 2005-Bio-terrorism is deemed the world`s single greatest security threat, and police across the globe are ill-equipped to handle an attack. These were the findings of a meeting hosted by the global police agency, Interpol, in the French city of Lyon at the beginning of March. Interpol warned that al-Qaeda had stated its intention to use biological weapons. It added that bio-terrorism knew no geographic, national, economic or political boundaries. An incident in any one country could trigger immediate and profound impact worldwide. Talks focused on how to better prevent and prepare for threats and training police to handle them. Interpol is hoping to generate funding for a special anti-bio-terror unit, recently set up.

South Africa`s police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who is currently the president of Interpol, singled out the specific possibility of an attack on the international food chain and livestock. The meeting will be followed by three workshops, the first to be conducted in South Africa at the end of 2005.
Read the news24 report
Read the expatica report

British colonial forces accused of terror tactics in Kenya
February 7 2005-Kenyans who fought in the Mau Mau rebellion have taken the British government to court for alleged humans rights abuses. Their application reflects the fluidity of the concept of terrorsim. While the colonial government referred to the Mau Mau as ‘terrorists` in the 1950s, the Kenyan Mau Mau Trust has now delivered a dossier to the British High Commission in Nairobi, entitled “Kenya: White Terror”. More than 200 000 Kenyan freedom fighters were detained in camps in a bid to force them to abandon their nationalist goals in the 1950s. The dossier catalogues instances of torture and murder by British soldiers and locals under their command. Other documented atrocities in the report include castration and blinding of defiant captives, as well as fatal whippings and r ape by British soldiers. The report is based on more than 6000 depositions alleging numerous cases of human rights abuse. This is the third time Kenya is seeking reparations from the British government for atrocities committed during British colonial rule.
Read the East African report on Allafrica

Algiers Convention: status of ratifications
January 13 2005- The previous edition of the newsletter reported on the status of ratification the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism (Algiers Convention). Since then, Niger has acceded to the Convention, bringing to 35 the number of deposits by African states. The Algiers Convention entered into force on 6 December 2002. In January, Angola ratified the Protocol on Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
Check the status of ratification of the Algiers Convention

SA terror bill signed into law
31 December 2004-South African president Thabo Mbeki has signed into law the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act on 31 December 2004. Act 33 of 2004 creates a host of new offences and penalties as set out by twelve United Nations and African Union Conventions.
Read the story in the previous newsletter
Download the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act


Africa: the breeding ground for terrorism?
One of the great debates in the study of terrorism is whether adverse conditions promote the growth of terrorism. Africa has ‘advanced` to being the breeding ground of terrorism in the minds of scholars and policy-makers from primarily the northern hemisphere. Some analysts are quick to point to Africa as a lethal combination of corrupt or destructive leaders, porous and unmonitored borders and rootless and hopeless men and women, rendering it an incubator of international terrorism and contagious diseases. It is argued that in many places, poverty and unemployment and the desperation they spawn leave young men vulnerable to the lure of terrorist organisations.

One of the fundamental shortcomings of this argument is that it fails to differentiate between countries on the continent-instead treating it as a land mass as opposed to 54 sovereign states. For every Zimbabwe, Togo and Sudan-there is also a Senegal, South Africa, Mauritius and Botswana.

Douglas Farah and Richard Shultz in an article for the Washington Post say, that with the end of the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, West Africa is seldom in the news or on the policy agenda. “Yet the region is quietly gaining recognition for what is has long been: a haven for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Weak and corrupt governments, vast, virtually stateless stretches awash in weapons, and impoverished, largely Muslim populations make the region and ideal sanctuary.”

The crux of the debate is that countries with weak governments and failing economies may become safe havens and fertile breeding grounds for terrorists. In the case of weak governments, the argument is that the absence of effective policing structures coupled with rampant corruption will allow terrorists to exist without detection. In the case of adverse economic conditions, it has been suggested that people are more susceptible to recruitment into terrorist organisations in countries with overwhelming socio-economic problems than in more stable countries (see top story).

At a United Nations General Assembly debate in 2001, South African president Thabo Mbeki said that the inequalities of the world had resulted in a deep sense of injustice, social alienation, despair and a willingness to sacrifice (lives) if there was nothing to be lost and everything to be gained. This view was reiterated at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in 2002, when poverty was singled out as the greatest threat to peace, security, democracy, human rights and the environment. Even protestors critical of the current form of globalisation agree that unfair trade practices, which lead to inequality and poverty, provide fertile breeding grounds for terrorism.

African leaders are not happy about the ‘African breeding ground of terrorism`, as poverty alleviation, education, HIV/Aids, unemployment and development issues top their national agendas; yet they are the first ones to admit that the continent has to act decisively to prevent the spread of terror networks. At the inauguration of the African Center for the Study and Research of Terrorism, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said the key to countering global terrorism was prevention, “so that the continent does not become a breeding ground for terrorism and a base for terrorist groups which could then indiscriminately attack African countries and other regions of the world from our continent.”

It would be simplistic to say that adverse conditions render certain parts of Africa a breeding ground of terrorism. At this point, we would like to refer to the editorial of this newsletter, and suggest to readers to take some time to study the rather enlightening findings of the working group on the root causes of terrorism at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security held in the Spanish capital Madrid in March 2005 ( ). Listed below are links to articles that examine the threat of terrorism in Africa.

Lacking in many of the articles on terrorism in Africa, is a structural analysis of what could be done to safeguard against Africa`s descent into an anarchic haven for terrorists. A recent 10-year review of the plan of action adopted at the 1995 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) has indicated that the focus in the war on terror may be misdirected. The report laments that human and financial resources are continuously diverted away from development to military spending...
“A Terror Breeding Ground?”
“Poverty Fueling Terrorism” - BBC News Online, 22 March 2002
“Thousands died in Africa yesterday”
“Military Gobbles Funds Earmarked for Social Development”
“The Terrorist Threat in Africa” - Foreign Affairs
‘We must not breed terrorists` - News24


Terrorism and Africa
By Jakkie Cilliers
The essay looks at the relationship between international terrorism and terrorism in Africa. According to the author, sub-state terrorism is already endemic to Africa, thus the future threat potential in the continent may lie in a complex mixture of sub-national and international terrorism. He suggests that Africa presents both a facilitating environment and a target-rich environment for potential terrorists.
Read the article

University of Leeds Scholarship
The University of Leeds has announced the establishment of the Wole Soyinka Scholarship. The scholarship is in support of doctoral research at he University`s School of English. It commences in October 2005 and extends for a period of three years. It covers annual tuition fees (£8,318 for international students) and provides an annual maintenance grant (£7000). Application information is available on the University`s webpage at or from the School of English`s webpage at

Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence
Hosted by the University of St Andrews, the centre studies the roots of political violence as well as the impact of such violence, including responses to it, at a societal, governmental and international level. It regularly organises seminars and conferences; it places great emphasis on post-graduate training in this particular field.
Visit the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence online

Please inform us of upcoming terrorism meetings, seminars, workshops, conferences, publications and other developments


The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is an applied policy non-profit research organisation with a focus on human security issues on the African continent.

This newsletter is produced by the Terrorism in Africa component which is located within the ISS Organised Crime and Corruption programme in Cape Town and funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD).


Annette Hà¼bschle (Researcher: Terrorism and Organised Crime) -
Gert Young (ISS Research Intern)

Institute for Security Studies
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