Rising “Terrorism” in Africa: Unpacking Realities and Myths beyond the Threat


In May 2021, Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the DRC, declared martial law in North Kivu and Ituri, two provinces on the country’s eastern border with Uganda and Rwanda, and placed them under military rule. In justifying this strong measure, Tshisekedi invoked the regular mass killings in the region, which have left more than 1,000 people dead since 2019 and have generally been ascribed to one local militant group: the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). This declaration followed a shift in U.S. strategy from March 2020, which announced that it now considers the ADF a “foreign terrorist organization”.

Africa is increasingly seen as the continent where the fight against terrorism is intensifying. In a number of battle fronts such as the DRC, Kenya, Nigeria and Somalia, the “enemies” are labeled as “terrorists”. Constructivist approaches to (in)security are enlightening in that regard. They allow for the questioning of the construction of this threat, in order to understand who is actually creating a security issue and in what way.

Illustrated with case studies, such as the ADF, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, this panel will aim at unpacking discourses and analyses to build a more in-depth comprehension of terrorism in its new forms. Using historical perspectives and looking at the development of new forms of “terrorism”, how can we understand the current narrative around a rising form of African “terrorism”?

Meet the Panelists

Watch the session