Counter-Terrorism in the Greater Horn of Africa 2004-2010: Revisiting the Somalia Question

By Mumo Nzao, PhD
On the 11th of July 2010, as fans watched the FIFA World Cup Finals around the world, two separate suicide bombings rocked Kampala, Uganda leaving 79 dead and injuring many others. Al-Shabaab, a fundamentalist group in Somalia, immediately claimed responsibility. These events sparked widespread debate within scholarly circles as far as the counter-terrorism agenda in the Greater Horn of Africa is concerned.
In recent years, terrorism has grown to become a vice of global magnitude.

The Greater Horn of Africa has had its own fair share of terror attacks and terrorism-related activities since the late 1990s. The anarchy in Somalia seems to have worsened the picture. Six years after the formation of the Transitional Federal Government in October 2004, Somalia is yet to have a fully operational government. This state of affairs, coupled with similar regional challenges made the Greater Horn an easy target for global crime syndicates- piracy, drugs and light weapons trafficking and most notably, international terrorism. Since late 2006, Somalia seems to be the epicenter of Islamic fundamentalism of the kind witnessed in the Middle-East in recent years. The countries in the region more often than not, are unable to tame the vice as they were plagued by internal challenges- active and/or potential conflicts among them.
It is against this background that this paper sought to explore the challenges facing the counter terrorism agenda in the Horn of Africa with a view to assessing the evolving terrorism threat with specific reference to Somalia and further charting the way forward on the same. The researcher arrived at the conclusion that; international terrorist activities are not a preserve of any single country. It has both short and long-term effect on almost any country. The structural features on which terrorism thrives; particularly poverty, ignorance, bad governance, disorder and insecurity all need to be addressed not only as “the Somali problem” but one that involves all state and non-state actors in the Greater Horn of Africa. This calls for concerted economic, political and security cooperation now and in future.

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