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The 1998 attacks against US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam attest to al-Qaeda's durable presence in Africa, yet Islamist-inspired radical organisations in the continent have gained much attention of late, the result of their campaigns of insurgent and terrorist violence directed against the state in Algeria, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali and Kenya. These groups include Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Harakat Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Dine. Evidence has emerged to suggest that beyond shared political objectives they are also collaborating in terms of finance, propaganda, arms transfers and training, while Western governments believe some of them maintain links with Al-Qaeda 'central'. Stig Jarle Hansen has been researching African radical violent Islamism for more than ten years and is well placed to explain how and why such groups emerged, whether they manifest any specific traits compared with other violent Islamists, and what is likely to be their impact beyond the African continent. He also discusses the response of African and Western governments to this phenomenon.
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Stig Jarle Hansen is an associate professor at the University of Life Sciences in Oslo where he teaches Norway's only MA in International Relations. He speaks Somali, Swahili and Arabic and is the author of Al-Shabaab in Somalia (Hurst, 2013).
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