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International terrorism scope, causes and the role of education in combating terrorism; the case of africa
The global dimension of international security and violence has stimulated the rise of youth in the world and Africa in particular. The focus is no longer on policing terrorism, but rather understanding the mutations and how education can help combat terrorism.
International terrorism scope, causes and the role of education in combating terrorism; the case of africa
International Terrorism: Scope, Causes and the Role of Education in
Combating Terrorism; The case of Africa
Saron Messembe Obia
Pan African Institute for Development-West
Africa (PAID-WA) Buea
Globalization thinking has been incredibly averse to defining terrorism, because of the worry of
an official definition that would expose the legitimacy of self-proclaimed combat of
nationalliberation.The early 19th century marked a lot of discussion on the concept, as United
States termed Castro a terrorist. But Castro defined terrorism as the use of violence to achieve a
political goal. The ideology that has been conceptualized by some terrorist groups like Hezbollah
and Boko-Haram is “they are freedom fighters”. But what do scholars say about terrorism? This
paper is to x-ray how education can be a weapon of counter-terrorism, as well as some of the
related issues to its causes. The paper also discuss on the negative role of education in
contemporary order, which is the menaceof terrorism. In certain countries, the word has become
virtually synonymous with political opponents.
Key words: Terrorism, Education, Violence
Terrorism is a derogatory term and when people employ the term, they characterize their
enemies’ actions as something evil and lacking human compassion. Terrorism is considered
worse than war, torture, or murder. Schmid and Jongman two researchers at the University of
Leiden (Netherlands) adopted a social science approach to figure out how to best define
terrorism. They gathered over a hundred academic and official definitions of terrorism and
examined them to identify the main components. They discovered that the concept of violence
emerged in 83.5% of definitions; political goals emerged in 65%; causing fear and terror in 51%;
arbitrariness and indiscriminate targeting in 21%; and the victimization of civilians,
noncombatants, neutrals, or outsiders in 17.5%. What Schmid and Jongman actually did was a
content analysis of those definitions. In the U.S., Britain, and Germany, there are three common
elements that exist in the legal definitions of terrorism of those countries: (1) the use of violence,
(2) political objectives, and (3) the aim of propagating fear in a target population.
The global dimension of international security and violence was felt in 2014, as the total number
of deaths increased 80 per cent due to terrorism when compared to the prior year. The
commencement of the 21st century, has taken a different shift as concerns victims of terrorism,
rising from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. Terrorism remains extremelyintense with most
activitiesstirringIraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.They above countries witnessed
78 per cent loss of lives in 2014. As international security is marked with violence, mostly
youthful violence, terrorism is amassed to more countries, with the number victims increasing at
each attack. The six new nations with over 500 deaths are Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Central
African Republic, South Sudan and Cameroon.Deaths of foreign individuals increased by 172
per cent between 2013 and 2014 compared to the total number of deaths which rose 80 per cent.
Terrorist assaults on religious targets occasioned in 11 per cent fewer deaths in 2014. Two
organization or insurgency have been recognized for the huge deaths from terrorism; Boko -
Haram and ISIL. Nigeria has experienced the major terrorist attacks in 2014 and part of Lake
Chad Basin. There were 7,512 casualties’ from terrorist attacks in 2014, an increase of over 300
per cent (GTI, 2015)1
Moreover, the fact that ISIL inflicts more deaths on the battlefield than through terrorism, but the
idea or the nature of ISIL remains questionable, as to whether is a terrorist group, organization
like Al Queada or an insurgency like ISIS. Statistics indicates that ISIL was involved in at least
20,000 battlefield deaths with other state and non-state fighters compared to the over 6,000
extremistdeaths that are accredited to the group. The movement of foreign combatants into Iraq
and Syria increased in 2014 -2015, excluding Turkey, Europe accounted for 21 per cent of all
foreign fighters in 2014. Half of the foreign combatants are from nearby countries of the Middle-
East and North Africa (MENA)2
and supplementary four per cent is from Turkey.Terrorist
(GTI, 2015) the Global Terrorism Index provides and in-depth of statistics and most affected countries.
(MENA) This is simply and abbreviation of Middle East and North Africa countries
actions are correlated with political and economic violence. In a research by GTI (2015), found
that 92 per cent of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 occurred in countries where
political violence by the government was broad. Lack of respect for human rights and for
intercontinentalorganizations also correlates with terrorism. Some extra drives aside from
political terror and currentencounters include lack of respect for human rights, the existence of
policies targeting religious freedoms, group grievances, political instability and non- respect for
international organizations like the UN or the EU. There are different drivers of violence in
developed countries than in developing countries. In OECD countries socio-economic factors
such as youth unemployment, confidence in the press, faith in democracy, drug crime and
attitudes towards immigration correlates significantly. In non-OECD countries factors such as a
history of armed conflict, ongoing conflict within the country, corruption and a weak business
environment are more strongly linked.
The causes of terrorism
The causes of terrorism arediverse and no one factor leads people’s engagement in acts of terror.
Scholars have categorized motivations for terrorism to include psychological, ideological, and
Psychological Perception: Those who engage in terrorism may do so for purely personal reasons,
based on their own psychological state of mind. Their motivation may be nothing more than hate
or the desire for power and honor. For example, Jihadi John, with a solid educational foundation,
decided to join ISIS. This perception is a sort of youthful identification with the different
dimension of international security, because youths in the Middle Eastseek from their religious
authority, which is the clue of terrorism. Another common case is that of Imam Abubakar
Shekau, who radicalizes the concept of Islam to some youths that have been frustrated by
leadership and bad governance in Africa. In order to gain attention, terrorist have changed their
modus operandi, targeting soft targets (schools and markets).
Ideological Perception: Ideology refers to beliefs, values, and/or principles by which a group
identifies its particular aims and goals. Ideology may encompass religion or political
philosophies and programs. For examples of terrorist groups motivated by ideology include;
Boko-Haram and Al Shabab, which Boko-Haram believe “western education is a sin”. If western
education is a sin why operate with tools from the west? Where did they acquire the knowledge
to draw strategies?(Osama Bin Laden)3
work for the U.S, and haven’t work there gave him and
exposure to easily attack. Terrorist ideology is yet to be wiped from the brain of youths, with the
wide range of youths joining terrorist organizations and groups through social networks for the
Strategic Perception: Terrorism is sometimes seen as a logical extension of the failure of politics.
When people seek to address their grievances to the government, but fail to win government’s
attention through their plight, they may resort to violence. For example the Arab spring and the
rise of Arab youths against the international system dominated by the West System (Anglo-
. From this viewpoint, terrorism is the result of a logical analysis of the goals and
objectives of a group, and their estimate of the likelihood of gaining victory.But an exception to
terrorist activities is Russia since 1945, which have only had least military revolt.
The role of education in counter-terrorism
Education refers to the process of coaching, training or drilling someone especially in a school,
college or university. It is also the knowledge, skills or understanding that one gets from
attending a school, college or university. Education is one of the main drives of the increasing
violence in Africa, precisely in West Africa and Lake Central Africa.The situation here is to
understand how education can end terrorism; we now take the case of Africa.
How education can end terrorism
To a considerable extent, education has a role to play in the eradication of terrorist ideas. This
can be done through broad based cross cultural education, which aims at improving outlooks and
fighting radicalism which yields positive results in eliminating terrorism from the face of this
earth. Educating promotes tolerance and respect of culture, religion just to name these few, when
Pakistani Malala was shut by the Taliban and did not die, she has become an icon and advocate
for female education in the world. What become of the Nigerian girl that was liberated? So
African cannot emulate good ideas to enlighten youths against the disadvantages of terrorism.
(Osama Bin Laden) The different spelling of Osama bin Laden reflects U.S. State Department preference in 1997.
(Anglo-American) It simply refers to the United States of America and United Kingdom (Britain)
Likewise, most persons operating in terrorist groups are from young age groups and are
frustrated due to the politic system of the country. Reaching young people and helping them to
see a just and fair world full of opportunities will empower them and education is the means to
Besides, Education promotes peaceful coexistence and 21st century education is relevant to
national security. Education teaches people to respect others as equals regardless of faith, culture
or nationality and to live peacefully within a community.Terrorism has become an atmosphere
for intellectuals to express the ideas, because when the graduate they are left un employed and no
Moreover, Education mobilizes the youth meaning it is the perfect medium to mobilize and
motivate the youth. It is also the way forward for promoting egalitarian attitudes and mindsets
which are immune to radicalization and extremism.
Furthermore, education eradicates triggers of terrorism. Terrorist groups recruitment are largely
poor and uneducated sections of society which have no access to employment or money so with
education poverty and unemployment will be eradicated which are often motivations for
In addition, Killing leaders of terror groups will not put an end to the militant organization,
education does. There have been several cases whereby prominent leaders of terror groups have
been killed, for instance, Osama Bin Laden, but militancy has not ended because someone else
simply takes over in the chain of command. So to end terrorism, lasting social change through
education is vital.
How education boosts terrorism
On the otherhand, even though education can help in putting an end to terrorism it is worth
mentioning that to extent it could fail drasticallyas well, and this could be seen in the following
Contemporary terrorists come from well-educated and liberal backgrounds, as was the case with
prominent terror leaders Bin Laden, they are prone to extremism and radicalization. Extremist
ideology recognizes no religion or community. It can promote terrorism despite the protection
offered by education. An example is Boko-Haram activities in Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin
countries (CEMAC Zone).
Furthermore, many terrorists are from privileged backgrounds and these educated persons from
privileged backgrounds settled in countries worldwide that are engaged in terrorism. Moreover,
terrorist groups always desire to use well educated individuals to carry out coordinated attacks as
they can better fit into the system and evade detection. An example is the intercepted attack of a
Nigeria youth on the U.S territory.
In addition suicide bombers are often motivated by the benefits for family members. In cases
where terrorists are from weaker sections of society, the promise of money to family members
serves as a powerful motivator to join the terror group. The economic deprivation hypothesis
holds that lack of economic growth and development are the major drive of terrorism, not lack of
As seen in the aforementioned paragraphs, education is a mechanism for the eradication
terrorism, but can only be possible if the government of every country take in to consideration
the different ideologies brought by multiculturalism and youth involvement in state activities, as
well as the provision of jobs and good policies for the society and promote equality. Again the
rise of youth and violence is basically an issue to showcase their knowledge correlated with
political dominance and violation of human rights in some African states.
More so, counter-terrorism strategies need to be restructured in Africa. Terrorism is no more a
matter of military attempting to counter attacks on soft or hard targets, but also an intellectual
battle. With the rise of cyber-attack, cyber-terrorism and cyber warfare, the security needs more
exposure as youths are the brain behind most terrorist acts.
Andrew Kaczynski. Buzzfeed news reporter, April 23,2013 at 8:51 pm. “what causes a young
person to become a terrorist”
Burgess, Mark (2003). A Brief History of Terrorism. Washington, D.C.: Center for Defense
Information (CDI); Tuman, Joseph S. (2009). Communicating Terror: The Rhetorical
Dimensions of Terrorism (2nd
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Global Terrorism Index (2015), Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism, Institute
for Economics and Peace
Journal of Strategic Security, Vol. 2, No. 3, September 2009.
Schmid and Jongman (1988), Political Terrorism: A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts,
Data Bases, Theories, and Literature. Amsterdam: North Holland, Transaction Books, p. 28.
Teaching Guide on International Terrorism, Definitions, Causes, and Responses, United States
Institute for Peace.
The Tipping Point: Biological Terrorism, “by Scott Cary, published by Henley-Putnam’s