TRENDS Study Analyzes the Phenomenon of 'Terrorist Intermediaries' in Africa and Stresses Need to Address it.


TRENDS Research and Advisory issued a new study entitled (Exploring the Phenomenon of "Terrorist Intermediaries" in Africa). The study is part of TRENDS’ research programs in the field of political Islam studies. It provides an in-depth analysis of this phenomenon in its various dimensions by attempting to answer a set of important questions. These include:  Why are hostage-taking operations on the rise in Africa? Who are the mediators in terrorism? And what are their features? What role do they play?  What are the reasons for the increasing role of terrorist intermediaries? What are the types of terrorist intermediaries in African? What is the future of this phenomenon of terrorist intermediaries in Africa?

The study indicated that the past years have witnessed a noticeable escalation in the phenomenon of terrorist intermediaries in Africa. This phenomenon began to surface with the increasing activities by various terrorist organizations in kidnapping foreigners in order to obtain ransom. Some governments and security services seek the help of these intermediaries to communicate with terrorist organizations in order to help release the kidnapped persons. There is a close link between the increase in hostage-taking and the booming role of terrorist intermediaries in Africa. These intermediaries began to team up with many terrorist organizations and groups that kidnap foreigners, including humanitarian workers.

The study stated that terrorist organizations operating in Africa continued to take hostages, especially citizens of Western countries. This will encourage more armed militias and hardline nationalist movements to enter the field of hostage-taking, which leads to an increase in the role of terrorist intermediaries during the next stage. This would lead to the accession of new categories of tribesmen, politicians, businessmen and former extremists to the system of "intermediaries", in order to obtain financial gains and build strong networks that allow them to exercise a major role in their areas of influence. The study explained that this change in set-up would make hostage-taking a flourishing business that may push some intermediaries to encourage the practice indirectly to preserve the great privileges granted to them as mediators. This will result in an increase in kidnapping of foreign nationals in the African continent, and their transfer to other regions of the world, especially since there are hot spots that suffer from chaos and fragility. Such areas represent a fertile ground for hostage-taking and the blooming of this phenomenon.

The study stressed that this reality urges the international community to address this phenomenon in radical ways, especially within Africa, which began to see heating competition between different organizations to take hostages. The remedy should be done by taking a set of important steps, including pressure on Western countries not to respond to terrorists and stop paying them lofty financial ransoms. The payment of huge funds only helps terrorist organizations build their organizational capabilities and make them stronger to be eliminated.  In fact, it encourages these organizations to continue to take hostages, and motivate other terrorist and ethnic groups to enter the lucrative business of hostage-taking.

The study explained that the steps include the enforcement of robust security measures that prevent terrorist organizations from taking more hostages. Governments in the concerned countries, in which terrorist groups are active, should step in and take effective actions. Western countries are required to provide needed aid and assistance to these governments.

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