Failed States and the Spread of Terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Studies in Conflict and Terrorism





First page number:


Last page number:



Plagued by systematic state failure, sub-Saharan Africa's failed states have helped facilitate internationally sponsored terrorist networks and operations. However, until recently, this type of activity was primarily relegated to North Africa and the Horn. But that has begun to change. Now, what was once a seemingly benign terrorist presence in sub-Saharan Africa is starting to transform into a movement, with states such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) now lending arms, financial support, and radical militants to the extremist jihadist movement of internationally sponsored terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda. Further, with the recent bombings in Kenya and Somalia, and the failed bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner by a Nigerian national, it is becoming increasingly evident that internationally sponsored terrorist networks have found a permanent home in sub-Saharan Africa and within the hearts and minds of its people, which poses significant challenges for the international community, given the region's patchwork of failed states, where terrorists can easily hide and thrive. Consequently, this study discusses how the conditions of state failure have fostered support for internationally sponsored terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist groups are now actively recruiting more militants from within the region and popular support for extremist acts is on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, the article argues sub-Saharan Africa will soon become the site for the next generation of terrorists, and the next wave of terrorist activity. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Controlled Subject

Sub-Saharan Africa; Terrorism; North Africa; Radicals; Extremists


Sociology | Terrorism Studies

UNLV article access

Search your library