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Afr icom 2007

  1. 1. AFRICOM’S DILEMMA: THE “GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM,” “CAPACITY BUILDING,” HUMANITARIANISM, AND THE FUTURE OF U.S. SECURITY POLICY IN AFRICA Robert G. Berschinski November 2007Visit our website for other free publication downloads To rate this publication click here. This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. As such, it is in the public domain, and under the provisions of Title 17, United States Code, Section 105, it may not be copyrighted.
  2. 2. Form Approved Report Documentation Page OMB No. 0704-0188Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering andmaintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information,including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, ArlingtonVA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to a penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if itdoes not display a currently valid OMB control number.1. REPORT DATE 3. DATES COVERED 2. REPORT TYPENOV 2007 00-00-2007 to 00-00-20074. TITLE AND SUBTITLE 5a. CONTRACT NUMBERAfricom’s Dilemma: The ’Global War on Terrorism,’ ’Capacity 5b. GRANT NUMBERBuilding,’ Humanitarianism, and the Future of U.S. Security Policy inAfrica 5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER6. AUTHOR(S) 5d. PROJECT NUMBER 5e. TASK NUMBER 5f. WORK UNIT NUMBER7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION REPORT NUMBERU.S. Army War College,Strategic Studies Institute,122 ForbesAvenue,Carlisle,PA,17013-52449. SPONSORING/MONITORING AGENCY NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 10. SPONSOR/MONITOR’S ACRONYM(S) 11. SPONSOR/MONITOR’S REPORT NUMBER(S)12. DISTRIBUTION/AVAILABILITY STATEMENTApproved for public release; distribution unlimited13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES14. ABSTRACT15. SUBJECT TERMS16. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF: 17. LIMITATION OF 18. NUMBER 19a. NAME OF ABSTRACT OF PAGES RESPONSIBLE PERSON a. REPORT b. ABSTRACT c. THIS PAGE Same as 77 unclassified unclassified unclassified Report (SAR) Standard Form 298 (Rev. 8-98) Prescribed by ANSI Std Z39-18
  3. 3. ***** The views expressed in this report are those of the authorand do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of theDepartment of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S.Government. This report is cleared for public release; distributionis unlimited. ***** The author would like to thank Dr. Steven Metz, Dr. AndrewTerrill, Colonel Sue Ann Sandusky, and Lieutenant ColonelMichael Marra for their support and insight in making thisproject a reality. He would also like to thank Captain Jon Beach,Eden Knudsen, Alexis Arieff, and Eliot Pence for their invaluablecomments and suggestions during the writing process. Allremaining shortcomings are strictly those of the author and persistin spite of the best efforts of those mentioned above. The author isindebted to International Security Studies at Yale University andthe Arthur Vining Davis Foundation for their financial support.This monograph is dedicated to Daniel Berschinski and otherstrategic lieutenants across the globe. ***** Comments pertaining to this report are invited and shouldbe forwarded to: Director, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. ArmyWar College, 122 Forbes Ave, Carlisle, PA 17013-5244. ***** All Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) publicationsare available on the SSI homepage for electronicdissemination. Hard copies of this report also may beordered from our homepage. SSI’s homepage address ***** The Strategic Studies Institute publishes a monthly e-mailnewsletter to update the national security community on theresearch of our analysts, recent and forthcoming publications,and upcoming conferences sponsored by the Institute. Eachnewsletter also provides a strategic commentary by oneof our research analysts. If you are interested in receivingthis newsletter, please subscribe on our homepage 1-58487-328-0 ii
  4. 4. FOREWORD Africa is a continent of growing economic, social,political, and geostrategic importance. It is also a continent ofoverwhelming poverty, rampant disease, chronic instability,and terrorist activity. The establishment of a new CombatantCommand for Africa—AFRICOM—marks an importantmilestone in the evolution of relations between the UnitedStates and the governments of Africa. Through AFRICOM,the U.S. Department of Defense will consolidate the effortsof three existing command headquarters as it seeks a morestable environment for political and economic growth inAfrica. In line with this goal, AFRICOM is pioneering abold new method of military engagement focused on warprevention, interagency cooperation, and developmentrather than on traditional warfighting. In this monograph, Robert Berschinski contendsthat in order to significantly benefit the African securitylandscape, AFRICOM must depart from the modelof U.S. military operations on the continent sinceSeptember 11, 2001. Using case studies, he argues that byamalgamating threats, overemphasizing “hard” counter-terrorism initiatives, and intertwining military opera-tions with humanitarianism, AFRICOM’s predecessors haveharmed U.S. strategic interests. In line with this conclusion,he offers policy recommendations to maximize AFRICOM’spotential for future success. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer thisstudy as part of the ongoing debate over how the U.S.military can best contribute to the mission of shaping thesecurity environment. DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR. Director Strategic Studies Institute iii
  5. 5. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF THE AUTHORROBERT G. BERSCHINSKI is currently a graduatestudent in International Relations, concentrating on policy at Yale University. Prior to his returnto academia, Mr. Berschinski served as an intelligenceofficer in the U.S. Air Force. He is a veteran of OperationIRAQI FREEDOM, where he served as a targetinganalyst for a Joint Special Operations Task Force in AlAnbar province. As intelligence flight commander ofthe 86th Contingency Response Group, Ramstein AirBase, Germany, Mr. Berschinski led antiterrorism andforce-protection intelligence analysis for U.S. Air Forcesin Europe’s premier contingency airfield operationsunit responsible for Europe and Africa. He worked inKigali, Rwanda, as the Air Force’s chief of deployedintelligence for North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) Operation AFRICAN UNION MISSION INSUDAN II (AMIS II), and provided reach-back supportto European Command’s 2005 Operation FLINTLOCK.Mr. Berschinski has published works in the Yale Journalof International Affairs, The Politic, and The Encyclopediaof the Cold War, and has served as a panelist on the U.S.strategic perspective in Africa at the U.S. Army WarCollege. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from YaleUniversity. iv
  6. 6. SUMMARY The February 2007 decision to launch a newDepartment of Defense Unified Combatant Commandfor Africa (AFRICOM) has already been met withsignificant controversy both in the United Statesand abroad. AFRICOM’s proponents claim that thenew command accurately reflects Africa’s growingstrategic importance and an enlightened U.S. foreignpolicy focused on supporting “African solutions toAfrican problems.” Its critics allege that the commanddemonstrates a self-serving American policy focusedon fighting terrorism, securing the Africa’s burgeoningenergy stocks, and countering Chinese influence. To overcome such misgivings, AFRICOM mustdemonstrate a commitment to programs mutuallybeneficial to both African and American nationalinterests. Yet a shrewd strategic communicationcampaign will not be enough to convince a skepticalAfrican public that AFRICOM’s priorities mirror theirown. Indeed, much African distrust is justified. SinceSeptember 11, 2001 (9/11), the Department of Defense’s(DoD) most significant endeavors in Africa have beenundertaken in pursuit of narrowly conceived goalsrelated to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).Operations in North and East Africa, though couchedin a larger framework of development, long-termcounterinsurgency, and a campaign to win “hearts andminds,” have nonetheless relied on offensive militaryoperations focused on short-term objectives. Though often tactically successful, these efforts—against Algerian insurgents in North Africa and anassortment of Islamists in Somalia—have neitherbenefited American security interests nor stabilizedevents in their respective regions. This failure isascribable in part to the flawed assumptions on v
  7. 7. which the GWOT in Africa has rested. Americancounterterrorism initiatives in Africa since 9/11have been based on a policy of “aggregation,” inwhich localized and disparate insurgencies havebeen amalgamated into a frightening, but artificiallymonolithic whole. Misdirected analyses regardingAfrica’s sizable Muslim population, its overwhelmingpoverty, and its numerous ungoverned spaces andfailed states further contribute to a distorted pictureof the terrorist threat emanating from the continent.The result has been a series of high-profile, marginallyvaluable kinetic strikes on suspected terrorists;affiliation with proxy forces inimical to stated U.S.policy goals; and the corrosion of African supportfor many truly valuable and well-intentioned U.S.endeavors. Because of its pioneering incorporation of security,development, and humanitarian functions intoone organization, AFRICOM may be particularlysusceptible to criticism if its sporadic “hard” operationsovershadow its “softer” initiatives. This concern is notmerely academic: If AFRICOM is seen as camouflagingmilitarism in the guise of humanitarianism, even non-DoD American efforts in Africa are likely to suffer aloss of legitimacy and effectiveness. It follows that, inorder to be successful, AFRICOM must divorce itselffrom the model of U.S. military engagement in Africasince 9/11. As AFRICOM becomes fully operationalby the end of 2008, its planners should recognize thatsaying the command is focused on African priorities willnot be enough. Rather, AFRICOM must demonstrateits commitment to a long-term security relationshipon African terms. In this regard, the attention andresources garnered by an American flag officer and full-time staff can certainly benefit a continent heretoforelargely ignored. vi
  8. 8. AFRICOM’S DILEMMA: THE “GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM,”“CAPACITY BUILDING,” HUMANITARIANISM, AND THE FUTURE OF U.S. SECURITY POLICY IN AFRICAINTRODUCTION On February 6, 2007, President George W. Bushformally announced his decision to create a UnifiedCombatant Command for Africa—U.S. AfricaCommand, or AFRICOM. The nascent command’sspokesmen tout AFRICOM as an important leap ininteragency coordination, bridging the divide betweenthe Department of Defense (DoD) and other U.S.Government agencies. DoD also praises AFRICOMas a groundbreaking attempt at conflict prevention,achieved through security cooperation, civil-militaryinitiatives, and humanitarian projects. AFRICOM, itis hoped, will pioneer a new model of U.S. militaryengagement abroad—mindful of the complicated,interconnected relationships among security, govern-ance, and development.1 AFRICOM will not be fashioned entirely fromscratch, however. The newest Combatant Command(COCOM) will inherit a series of missions initiated by itspredecessors. Two of the most significant—OperationENDURING FREEDOM–Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) andthe Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)—carry a mandate directly linked to the GlobalWar on Terrorism (GWOT). Since their inception, theseinitiatives have placed U.S. counterterrorism effortsin a larger framework of development, long-termcounterinsurgency, and a campaign to win “hearts 1
  9. 9. and minds.” They have also conducted kinetic militaryoperations focused on short-term objectives in theirrespective areas of responsibility (AORs).2 Though often tactically successful, these efforts—against Algerian insurgents in North Africa and anassortment of Islamists in Somalia—have neitherbenefited larger American security interests norstabilized events in their respective regions. Thisfailure is ascribable in part to the flawed assumptionson which the GWOT in Africa has rested. Americancounterterrorism initiatives in Africa since September11, 2001 (9/11), have been based on a policy of“aggregation,” in which localized and disparateinsurgencies have been amalgamated into a frightening,but artificially monolithic whole. Misdirected analysesregarding Africa’s sizable Muslim population, itsoverwhelming poverty, and its numerous ungovernedspaces and failed states further contribute to a distortedpicture of the terrorist threat emanating from thecontinent. The result has been a series of high-profile,marginally valuable kinetic strikes on suspectedterrorists; affiliation with proxy forces inimical tostated U.S. policy goals; and the corrosion of Africansupport for many truly valuable and well-intentionedU.S. endeavors. Because of its incorporation of security, develop-ment, and humanitarian functions into one organi-zation, AFRICOM may be particularly susceptibleto strategic failure if it uncritically incorporates theoperational concepts that have guided its predecessors.If AFRICOM is seen as camouflaging militarism in theguise of humanitarianism, even non-DoD Americanefforts in Africa are likely to suffer a loss of legitimacyand effectiveness. It follows that, in order to besuccessful, AFRICOM must divorce itself from themodel of recent U.S. military engagement in Africa. 2
  10. 10. This monograph examines DoD efforts in Africasince 9/11 in the context of case studies from Northand East Africa. It addresses several of the assumptionson which such operations have been based. Is Africa’spopulation predisposed toward transnational Islamistterrorism? How have the continent’s localizedinsurgencies benefited from their affiliation withglobal terrorist groups like al-Qaeda? How has thisaffiliation been supported by an American policyof “aggregation” in the GWOT? How do Africa’sungoverned spaces and failed states factor into asuccessful counterterrorism strategy? How do currentU.S. policies encourage distortion and cooption byoppressive African governments? The answers to thesequestions suggest that long-term U.S. interests willsuffer from a militarized U.S. foreign policy in Africa.AFRICOM’s planners have been careful to verballydistance themselves from these charges. Its supportersindicate that African reticence can be overcomethrough improved “strategic communication,” publicdiplomacy, and a commitment to security cooperation.3While important, no amount of “messaging” willtriumph over the power of American actions on thecontinent. As long as DoD policies embed kineticresponses to terrorism in a wider language ofhumanitarianism, many African states will remainwary of U.S. intentions, with detrimental effects forboth parties. This is not to imply that transnational terroristsdo not operate in Africa. Much to the contrary, theauthor will argue that by aggregating localized threats,U.S. counterterrorism policies in Africa have thus farbackfired, encouraging the very extremist inroads theysought to deny. Nor does he imply that kinetic meansare employed on a frequent basis. Such assertions are 3
  11. 11. beside the point: Because of the mismatch in Africanand American security priorities, kinetic U.S. militarycounterterrorism activities, however infrequent,come with overwhelming costs vis-à-vis larger U.S.interests.Background. AFRICOM’s birth underscores a recent, significantchange in U.S. policy toward Africa. Despite conductingat least 20 military operations in Africa during the1990s, in mid-decade DoD planners maintained thatthe United States had “very little traditional strategicinterest in Africa.”4 In 1998, President Bill Clinton’sNational Security Strategy of the United States listedAfrica last in its inventory of “Integrated RegionalApproaches” to U.S. security.5 During the 2000presidential campaign, candidate George W. Bushnoted that “while Africa may be important, it doesn’tfit into [American] national strategic interests, as faras I can see them.”6 As one respected analyst notedat the time, U.S. relations with Africa at the turn ofthe 21st century seemed to mirror those of the 20th:marginalized at best.7 Since 2001, however, Africa has steadily gainedstrategic importance in the eyes of Americanpolicymakers. Africa recently surpassed the MiddleEast as the largest U.S. regional supplier of crude oil.8Nigeria, the continent’s largest oil exporter, now ranksas America’s fifth leading supplier, while Angola andAlgeria rank sixth and seventh.9 The continent’s oilproduction is expected to rise in coming years: Ghana’spresident has declared his country “an African tiger”on the strength of its recent oil discoveries; SierraLeone’s president has hinted that his country too 4
  12. 12. may hold rich deposits.10 These new discoveries andan American desire to wean itself from Middle Eastsuppliers are reflected in recent figures: the UnitedStates imported 22 percent of its crude oil from Africanstates in 2006, rising from 15 percent 2 years prior.11 ACentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) report projects thatthis share will rise to 25 percent by 2015.12 The United States is not the only country to takenote of Africa’s increasing energy stores. With aneconomy growing at roughly 9 percent per year, Chinais looking to Africa to sate its precipitously rising oilrequirements. China currently imports nearly a thirdof its crude oil from African sources, and President HuJintao has made a recent priority of courting Africanleaders.13 China has cancelled over $10 billion of debtfor 31 African states since 2000, and has overtakenthe World Bank in terms of overall lending to thecontinent.14 As both the United States and China viefor Africa’s expanding oil resources, several analystshave noted Africa’s emergence as a theater for strategiccompetition.15 AFRICOM also reflects a post-9/11 responseto perceived security threats emanating from thecontinent. Foremost in many American minds isAfrica’s potential as a haven for international terroristorganizations. Extreme poverty, ethno-religiousdivisions, corrupt and weak governance, failed states,and large tracts of “ungoverned space” combine tooffer what many experts believe to be fertile breedinggrounds for transnational Islamist terror.16 Reflecting both the terrorism threat and desiredstability in Africa’s energy-producing states, DoDis designing AFRICOM around a linkage betweenhumanitarianism and U.S. strategic interests. Removethe precursors to internal strife and humanitarian 5
  13. 13. disaster, so the thinking goes, and you also eliminatethreats to U.S. security. In an era in which small groupsof malcontents can pose a greater threat to U.S. securitythan a conventionally armed state, “winning heartsand minds” is no longer a worthwhile by-productof philanthropic activity. Instead, it is a strategicimperative in its own right.Promises and Reservations. Accordingly, DoD planners are organizingAFRICOM along highly nontraditional lines. ThePentagon is designing AFRICOM to build bothindigenous African security capacities and U.S.interagency collaboration, and is abandoning the“J-code” warplanning organizational structuretraditionally associated with combatant command(COCOM) staffs.17 Judging from its press releases,AFRICOM will rarely take the lead in U.S. Governmentendeavors in Africa. Instead, “support” is the watch-word of the day. DoD will “not look for AFRICOMto take a leadership role; rather, it will be one insupport of efforts of leading [African] countries.”18The military bases and permanently assigned combatunits that typify other COCOMs are out; advisorsthat help “Africans deal with African problems” arein.19 Internally, AFRICOM is billed as a DoD effortto “support . . . activities that the rest of the U.S.Government is doing [in Africa].”20 To emphasize thisapproach, one of AFRICOM’s two deputies will be asenior Foreign Service officer designated the Deputy tothe Commander for Civil-Military Affairs (DCMA).21The U.S. Agency for International Development(USAID) will contribute a Senior DevelopmentAdvisor (SDA) to council AFRICOM’s commander on 6
  14. 14. development-related issues; other U.S. Governmentdepartments and agencies are also expected to providehigh-profile representation within the command.22 AFRICOM’s stated emphasis on developmentand war-prevention in lieu of warfighting has wonthe command widespread praise within the UnitedStates. Commentators at organizations as disparateas The New York Times and the Heritage Foundationhave lauded the new command’s focus on Africansecurity and stability.23 Indeed, there can be littledoubt that AFRICOM will improve DoD’s Africancoverage. Currently, the continent is divided amongthree COCOMs. European Command manages the 42states of western, central, and southern Africa, whileCentral Command responds to the 7 countries in theHorn region, and Pacific Command covers the islandnations off the continent’s eastern coast. Africa haslargely remained an afterthought for each of thesecommands, and security experts have long worriedabout policy discontinuities between their coverage“seams.” AFRICOM’s promise of a full-time militarystaff concentrating on African security affairs will, it ishoped, eliminate seams, reduce bureaucratic overlap,and serve to generate proactive policies focused onconflict prevention. Yet for all its advantages and stated intentions,AFRICOM is being met with less than euphoria inmany African states. Recent headlines originating inthe African press tell the tale: “A Scramble for the Continent We May Not Gain From”; “New U.S. Command Will Militarise Ties with Africa”; “World’s Biggest Military Comes to Town”; “SADC Shuns Spectre of U.S. Africom Plans”; “AFRICOM: Wrong for Liberia, Disastrous for Africa.”24 7
  15. 15. Pointing to Iraq, Africans worry that AFRICOMsignals the export of a militarized U.S. foreign policy.They fear the reintroduction of Cold War-era armssales and U.S. support for repressive regimes. Citinghundreds of years of colonial subjugation, they accusethe United States of neo-imperialism and resourceexploitation. And far from alleviating the continent’sinsecurity, they fear that AFRICOM will incite, notpreclude, terrorist attacks.25 Though AFRICOM has supporters among Africanheads of state, its generally chilly reception has forcedU.S. military planners to emphasize and reiterate thecommand’s benevolent intentions and nonmilitarycharacter.26 Public pronouncements from top officialsare as likely to mention humanitarian assistance anddisaster relief as they are to refer to counterterrorism andenergy security.27 As Principal Deputy Undersecretaryof Defense for Policy Ryan Henry has noted: We don’t see a change in the military’s force structure. The mixture of that [sic] forces, again, would be heavily biased to nonkinetic sort of capability—the humanitarian assistance, the civil affairs, the working with the host nations to build up their militaries, working with them to let them know the role of the military in civil society, concepts of civilian control.28 AFRICOM’s interagency structure is rightlyhailed as a more effective means of achieving acollaborative and coherent U.S. policy toward Africa.29Yet frequently, and in contrast to the command’s draftmission statement, intra-U.S. Government synergy isoften portrayed as the command’s overriding goal,with AFRICOM described as little more than a paper-based reorganization of current U.S. Governmentendeavors. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense 8
  16. 16. Theresa Whelan has remarked: Our primary objective is, in addition to making the U.S. Department of Defense organizational structure more efficient and effective by having one command . . . we also want to try to integrate better with our counterparts in the U.S. Government.30 Government officials are, in effect, promising akinder, gentler COCOM focused on a radically newmission and tempered by outside influence. If DoDprograms in Africa since 9/11 are any indication,however, AFRICOM may not begin life as biasedagainst hard power as its founders intend and Africansdesire. Instead, it will likely model itself on the twomost significant ongoing DoD efforts in Africa: OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA. Both OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA encompass a diverseset of missions, including humanitarian and securitycooperation functions. Yet each exists primarily tocombat Islamist extremism in its respective regionunder the GWOT. OEF-TS extends initiatives begun in2002 under the auspices of the Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI).The PSI sought to enhance regional cooperation withthe Sahel nations of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chadto combat terrorism, track the movements of peoplethrough the Sahel and Sahara, and protect the region’sborders.31 As the lead government agency in charge ofcounterterrorism, the State Department directed PSI,but leaned heavily on foreign internal defense trainingprovided by Special Operations Command Europe(SOCEUR).32 Rechristened in 2005 as the Trans-SaharaCounter Terrorism Program (TSCTP), PSI expandedto include Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, andTunisia. OEF-TS emerged as TSCTP’s SOCEUR-ledmilitary arm. OEF-TS conducts “military-to-military 9
  17. 17. engagements and exercises designed to strengthenthe ability of regional governments to police the largeexpanses of remote terrain in the trans-Sahara.”33Though focused primarily on this training mission,SOCEUR forces are widely reported to have taken partin offensive operations.34 Half a continent away, CENTCOM establishedCJTF-HOA in 2002 to “detect, disrupt, and ultimatelydefeat transnational terrorist groups” operating inAfrica’s northeastern Horn region (Kenya, Somalia,Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Yemen on theArabian peninsula).35 DoD predicated CJTF-HOAon the belief that al-Qaeda members flowing out ofAfghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion wouldlikely flee to the Horn. When the expected terroristconcentrations failed to materialize, the Task Forcetransitioned to training regional security forces,supporting humanitarian missions, and conductingcivil-military operations.36 CJTF-HOA prides itself ona nonkinetic, long-term approach to counterterrorismin East Africa.37 Accurately or not, however, the TaskForce is better known for its links to the U.S. specialoperations forces (SOF)-supported Ethiopian invasionof Somalia in late 2006.38 Notwithstanding localized successes and short-term gains, the problem with an AFRICOM based onthe OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA models is that Africansecurity is simply not tied to GWOT-framed policies.Scholars familiar with the African security landscapecontinually argue that African leaders do not regardtransnational Islamist terrorism with anythingapproaching the urgency of the United States. Thisposition is not one of ignorance; rather, it reflects thereality of Africa’s true security priorities: hunger,disease, internecine warfare, oppressive regimes, andcrushing poverty. 10
  18. 18. Despite these fundamental disparities, DoDsupport for OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA has grown sincetheir respective inceptions. Both are frequently citedas model programs on which AFRICOM shouldbuild.39 And OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA have achievedvictories: each has been successful in denying territoryand freedom of action to various Islamist terroristsfor short periods of time. Yet both OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA exhibit the inner contradiction inherent in aGWOT-centric military policy in Africa. Though bothhave established notable civil-military and indigenous“capacity building” operations, both are inextricablylinked to elements of “hard” U.S. power. This poweris not without its legitimate and justifiable uses, but itis nevertheless a far cry from the aims stated by U.S.officials. If extended to AFRICOM, this contradictionwill become more pronounced. Multilateralism, arespect for African regional security organizations,a commitment to remaining in a supporting role,and other AFRICOM talking points—however well-intentioned—will appear only more duplicitous to thesame African audience they are intended to win over. This contradiction would be more palatable ifkinetic counterterrorism operations in North and EastAfrica showed signs of curtailing militant Islamism inthe long term. Unfortunately, they do not. And yet, byhighlighting the wide gulf between U.S. rhetoric andaction, these operations threaten to engender furtherresentment toward the United States, especially amongAfrica’s sizeable Muslim population. In the long run,such actions will harm, not further, American interestson the continent. 11
  19. 19. AGGREGATION AND DISAGGREGATION The U.S. GWOT-oriented policies in Africa havehelped to exacerbate, not reduce, the long-termtransnational terrorist threat emanating from thecontinent. This outcome can largely be attributed to aU.S. policy of “aggregation,” defined as the amalgama-tion of local and regional African insurgent groups intoa monolithic enemy. This process has benefited fromoverly simplistic assumptions concerning Africa as thenext front in the war on terrorism. Worst-case scenarioshave often trumped more moderate assessments ofillicit activity and localized insurgency. Oversimplifiedperspectives and an overemphasis on hard power haveheightened long-standing ethnic tensions and resultedin clientelism and unviable military interventions.In order to reverse the trend towards aggregation inAfrica, this monograph recommends a strategy of“disaggregation,” as modeled on the work of DavidKilcullen. Kilcullen, an Australian social scientist, publisheda paper entitled “Countering Global Insurgency,”40around the same time in 2005 that he took the post ofChief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator forCounterterrorism at the State Department. In the article,Kilcullen outlines a comprehensive reevaluation ofU.S. policy as it relates to the GWOT. In fact, though heaccepts the misnomer “Global War on Terrorism” as ade facto political reality, Kilcullen advocates a completeparadigm shift in how the United States wages itsstruggle against militant Islamists. Kilcullen begins by noting that the worldwide jihadicampaign is “a diverse confederation of movements thatuses terrorism as its principal, but not its sole tactic.”41 12
  20. 20. The jihad is waged by Islamist groups in separatetheaters around the world, connected through avariety of religious, cultural, ideological, linguistic,familial, financial, and historical links.42 Operationally,the jihad is waged at three levels: local, regional, andglobal. The lowest level consists of local terrorists andinsurgents—isolated groups that carry out the vastmajority of attacks. Importantly, the struggles of manyof these groups—such as Islamic guerrillas in theCaucasus and Moro separatists in the Philippines—both predate the worldwide jihad and are predicatedon essentially nonpan-Islamic goals.43 At the top of the worldwide jihad sits al-Qaeda. Thegroup itself does not act as a “higher headquarters” forlocal-level insurgents, but does provide ideologicalguidance and propaganda. Instead, due largely tothe globalizing tools of modern communications andmedia, al-Qaeda relates to localized groups througha class of regional intermediaries. These theater-levelaffiliates often co-opt, exploit, and redefine localgrievances in pan-Islamic, jihadi terms.44 Taken together, the worldwide jihad should be seenas a global insurgency, defined as “a popular movementthat seeks to overthrow the status quo throughsubversion, political activity, insurrection, armedconflict and terrorism.”45 Al-Qaeda uses terrorism asone tool in its wider inventory of insurgency tactics.More fundamentally, however, it “feed[s] on localgrievances, integrate[s] them into broader ideologies,and link[s] disparate conflicts through globalizedcommunications, finances, and technology.”46 This reconceptualization of terrorism and itsrelationship to insurgency leads to conclusions at oddswith current policies in the GWOT. Instead of treatingterrorists as illegal combatants or criminals inherently 13
  21. 21. differentiated from the rest of humanity, Kilcullensuggests regarding insurgents “as representative ofdeeper issues or grievances within society.”47 As a firstorder of business in global counterinsurgency, the Westmust regard the insurgents’ grievances as legitimate,though pursued via illegitimate means. Redressinggrievances will require “compromise and negotiation”as the counterinsurgent seeks to win the hearts andminds of the larger population supportive of globaljihad. While violent insurgent methods will continue tobe denounced as unacceptable, peaceful methods shouldbe met with good-faith conciliation. While die-hardmilitants may require conventional counterterrorismwork (law enforcement, intelligence, military), the trueheavy lifting of the global counterinsurgency strategyis achieved through “pacification, winning heartsand minds, and the denial of sanctuary and externalsponsorship.”48 In defining current U.S. strategy in the Waron Terrorism, Kilcullen identifies a policy of“aggregation,” which he defines as the “lumpingtogether [of] all terrorism, all rogue or failed states andall strategic competitors.”49 He endorses the prescientanalysis of the Air War College’s Jeffrey Record, whoin 2003 published a monograph noting that the U.S.Government’s “conflation of al-Qaeda and SaddamHussein’s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terroristthreat . . . was a strategic error of the first order.”50Apart from Iraq, Record criticized a GWOT comprising“a multiplicity of enemies, including rogue states;weapons of mass destruction proliferators; terroristorganizations of global, regional, and national scope;and terrorism itself,” amalgamating these distinctentities into “a [falsely] monolithic threat.” Such apolicy was “unrealistic and condemn[ed] the UnitedStates to a hopeless quest for absolute security.”51 14
  22. 22. In Kilcullen’s analysis, what he calls “aggregation”and Record labels “conflation” work directly into thehands of the global insurgency. The genius of bin Ladenand other global-level jihadis has been to fuse dozensof essentially dissimilar, localized conflicts and attacksunder the banner of pan-Islamism. This quest has beenhelped immensely by a U.S. policy that essentiallyseeks to broadcast the same message. In place of the GWOT’s existing policy of“aggregation,” Kilcullen advocates a fundamentallyantithetical one that he reasonably entitles“disaggregation.” The core elements of the strategyof disaggregation “break the links that allow the jihadto function as a global entity.”52 Local and regionalinsurgencies are evaluated for their specific ties to theglobal jihad, and these precise links are then neutralized.As with the Pacific island-hopping campaign duringWorld War II, local insurgencies that bear little or norelationship to the global jihad can be set aside. Keyglobal-level insurgent leaders are cut off from regionaland local actors. All the while, the grievances implicitin populations supporting local insurgencies areameliorated through a radical new calculus of effort:80 percent political, diplomatic, developmental, andinformational; and 20 percent military.53 Kilcullen draws parallels between disaggregationand George Kennan’s Cold War-era strategy ofcontainment. Like containment, disaggregationassumes a long-term struggle involving all facets of U.S.power. Like containment, disaggregation is based onan in-depth assessment of the enemy’s internal thoughtprocesses and ideology. And, as with Kennan’s originalformulation of containment, disaggregation urgesa predominantly nonmilitary approach in responseto the enemy threat. Yet, as Kennan discovered soon 15
  23. 23. after publishing his famous Foreign Affairs “X Article”in 1947, strategy at the implementation phase is opento a broad range of interpretations. As the MarshallPlan transitioned into the arms race, Kennan spent acareer criticizing what he saw as the militarization ofhis initial approach. As will be shown in the case studies, the samecalculations that led to a militarization of containmenthave thus far guided U.S. policy in the GWOT, and,more specifically, counterterrorism programs inAfrica such as OEF-TS and CJTF-HOA. Measured inday-to-day terms, these efforts adhere to a Kilcullen-like framework of favoring nonkinetic means.Nevertheless, they remain military programs focusedfirst and foremost on eliminating local terrorists intheir respective areas of responsibility (AOR). Whenlonger-term counterinsurgency work threatens thismission, recent U.S. actions in Africa have proven thatimmediate returns prevail over long-term strategy.Given AFRICOM’s interagency structure and blurringof civilian and military mandates, the continuation ofthis policy under the new command will likely incursignificant strategic costs in terms of the effort to win“hearts and minds.”TRANSNATIONAL ISLAMIST TERRORISM ANDAFRICA Transnational terrorist groups are active onthe African continent. Despite successful U.S. andEthiopian military strikes against Somalia’s Council ofIslamic Courts in late 2006 and early 2007, known al-Qaeda operatives continue to function in that countryand elsewhere in East Africa.54 Nigeria, both Africa’smost populous nation and home to the largest Muslim 16
  24. 24. population in AFRICOM’s area of responsibility(AOR), faces challenges ranging from radical Islamistsin its northern states to tensions in its oil-saturatedsoutheast.55 Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups are reported tobe making preliminary inroads in South Africa.56 Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), formerly theSalafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), hasrecently adopted al-Qaeda-like tactics in Algeria andenlarged its area of operations to include large swathsof the Sahara Desert and Sahel regions.57 These events are not limited to recent years. InAugust 1998, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group bombed theU.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam,Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring an additional5,000.58 Four years later, the same group killed 16 ina bombing in Mombasa, Kenya, and came close todowning an Israeli airliner with a shoulder-firedsurface-to-air missile. In 2003, internationally-linkedMoroccan terrorists unleashed five near-simultaneoussuicide attacks in Casablanca, killing 43.59 Despitearresting some 2,000 suspected militants in the wakeof that attack, suicide bombings in Casablanca in early2007 underscore militant Islam’s continued operationalcapacity in the region.60 This litany of terrorist activities in Africa indicatesthe presence of local, regional, and worldwide actorscomprising the global insurgency. Yet a laundry list ofevents and potential hot spots does little to differentiatebetween localized populations, their grievances, and theinsurgencies that purport to act in their name. Instead,it aggregates groups and grievances. This tendencyin turn strengthens the claim that Africa’s variousproblems—both natural and man-made—provide afertile breeding group for militant pan-Islamism. Abasic survey of Africa’s demographics and manifold 17
  25. 25. problems seems to support such a vision, leadinginexorably toward claims of Africa as the GWOT’s “newfront.” Many analysts cannot help but connect Africa’spoverty, large Muslim population, and frequentlyweak governmental structures to transnational terror.However, such oversimplifications do little to addressthe continent’s more pressing concerns, and lead topolicy outcomes of negligible worth.Religion. The 2006 National Security Strategy of the UnitedStates states that “the War on Terror is a battle of ideas,it is not a battle of religions.” It goes on to say that “thetransnational terrorists confronting us today exploitthe proud religion of Islam to serve a violent politicalvision.”61 Both statements are fundamentally correct todifferentiate between Islam and the militant jihadismadvocated by leaders of the global insurgency. Evenwhen cognizant of this crucial difference, however,analyses of the African security landscape are overlyprone to amalgamate otherwise distinct religioustrends. The 52 states comprising AFRICOM’s proposedAOR represent almost 3,000 culturally distinct groups,over 2,000 different languages, and often commingledChristian, Muslim, and animist populations.62Approximately one-third of Africans practice someform of Islam, and the faith is the dominant form ofreligion north of the 10th parallel—a line running fromGuinea in the west through northern Nigeria, southernChad and Sudan, and extending to the Somali coast. For all of the troubling signs of Islamist-inspiredterror in Africa, it is important to keep in mind thatnot all forms of Islam—even of the fundamentalist 18
  26. 26. variety—are cut from the same cloth. The majorityof African Muslims adhere to the moderate Malikiand Shafi’i legal traditions and Sufi branch of SunniIslam, while only a small minority practice the Hanbalijurisprudence linked with Wahhabism and Salafism.63Field work continues to indicate that African Muslimsare overwhelming moderate, stress religious pluralism,and integrate traditional African religious practicesinto their faith.64 Such trends hold even in areas ofspecific concern to the War on Terror, such as the Saheland Horn regions. The exceptions to this religious trend rightfullygarner the majority of both press coverage and U.S.counterterrorism attention in Africa. Militant andpolitical forms of Islam are present in Nigeria, SouthAfrica, and Sudan, as well as in the Maghreb, Sahel,and Horn regions. Increasingly, these strains of Islamare driven by Islamic nongovernment organizations(NGOs) financed by Pakistan and the Persian Gulfstates, particularly Saudi Arabia.65 Exploiting a demandfor social services not provided through governmentalchannels, as well as popular discontent with the warin Iraq and other American policies, radical Islamiccharities have in recent decades made inroads inseveral areas of the continent.66 Differentiating between NGOs and clericsespousing militant pan-Islamism and similar actorspreaching benign forms of fundamentalist Islam is adifficult endeavor. The presence of Tablighi Jama’at inAfrica highlights this dilemma. Tablighi Jama’at is theworld’s largest Muslim missionary society. The groupfocuses on missionary work and personal spiritualrenewal, while adamantly disavowing politicalinvolvement and violence. It has, according to oneformer CIA analyst, “no distinct ideological message 19
  27. 27. or intellectual content beyond the propagation andpurification of Islamic teaching and the betterment ofMuslims.”67 Nevertheless, Tablighi inroads into Africain recent years have been seen by some as indicatingthe region’s growing radicalization. Such fears are atbest over dramatized. As with many large religiousorganizations, individual members of Tablighi Jama’athave traded in extreme ideology. Yet the group as awhole should be engaged as an alternative to globalinsurgency, not aggregated into it. As a terrorism experttestified to the 9/11 Commission in 2003, “Not allMuslim fundamentalists are the same. Just as Europeansocialists acted as a bulwark against Soviet communismin the last century, peaceful fundamentalist groupssuch as the Tablighi Jama’at may help to promote apeaceful message and repudiate terrorist violence.”68 Making such informed acts of disaggregation arecritical, and must be carried out by experts familiar withlocal conditions. A recent partnership in Burkina Fasobetween the U.S. Embassy and the aid organization,Islamic Relief, underscores the benefits of suchdifferentiation. By partnering with an Islamic NGOto deliver much needed medical supplies, the UnitedStates in this instance not only decreased conditions forinsurgent exploitation, but also bolstered the efforts ofa moderate Islamic charity.69 Unfortunately, however,this type of informed decisionmaking requires a levelof experience and in-depth acculturation with Africainfrequently found among U.S. Government officials,especially in DoD.Poverty and Disease. As with religion, poverty plays a complicatedand often misunderstood role vis-à-vis terrorism inAfrica. Echoing the 9/11 Commission Report, the 2006 20
  28. 28. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (NSCT) statesthat “terrorism is not the inevitable by-product ofpoverty.”70 Both documents go on to note that Osamabin Laden personifies the archetype of a well-educated,middle- or upper-class transnational terrorist. Indeed,that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were neitheruneducated nor poor is now a common refrain inboth government documents and scholarly works.71Though accurate, this oft-repeated anecdote can bemisleading. Research has shown that while activeperpetrators of terror fit the description set forth inthe 9/11 Commission Report and 2006 NSCT, these elitesgenerally act in the name of their socio-economicallydisadvantaged population base.72 As evidenced by thelack of transnational terrorism in most of sub-SaharanAfrica, poverty does not inevitably cause terrorism.73But it does provide a fertile breeding ground forexploitation by groups like al-Qaeda hoping to harnesslocal grievances to pan-Islamic jihad. This pattern holdstrue for educational opportunity: Individual terroristsmay have above-average educational backgrounds,but they often act in the name of, and are supportedby, the larger, educationally disadvantaged societyaround them.74 The scale of Africa’s poverty is breathtaking. Afterfairly steady economic growth in the immediate post-colonial era, most African countries underwent a periodof stark economic stagnation from the 1970s into the mid-1990s.75 The colonial legacy, high population growthrates, and government mismanagement have doomednearly half of Africa’s sub-Saharan states to decliningstandards of living since 1960.76 Since 2000, however,some economic trends have improved. Accordingto the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment, Africa experienced 5.5 percent growth 21
  29. 29. in 2006, a figure expected to rise in coming years.77 Thisgrowth has been driven by a combination of increasedoil and other raw material exports, enlarged officialdevelopment aid from donor countries, and improvedmacroeconomic policies by African governments.78 Despite these recent gains, Africa is still mired inoverwhelming poverty. The 2007 World Bank WorldDevelopment Indicators notes that 41 percent of sub-Saharan Africans live on one dollar a day or less, andthat even current growth rates will not be enough toachieve the primary Millennium Development Goal ofhalving extreme poverty by 2015.79 Nine of the world’sten poorest countries are in Africa.80 Diseases suchas HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria continue toravage the continent and inhibit growth. As of 2006,HIV alone infected between 21 and 27 million peoplein Africa, or about 6.1 percent of the continentalpopulation. Numbers are particularly stark inSouthern Africa, where 10 different countries have HIVprevalence rates above 10 percent.81 Deaths from AIDSand other diseases have lowered the life expectancyfor the average African to 46 years, depriving the workforce of labor and imposing significant secondaryeconomic effects.82 Given Africa’s poverty woes, why hasn’t thecontinent produced more transnational terrorism?Aside from the cultural and ideological root causesdiscussed elsewhere in this section, scholars haveposited several answers. The first explanation forAfrica’s relative lack of pan-Islamist terrorism is thatAfricans are simply too poor and underdeveloped tofacilitate effective terrorist networks.83 Accordingly,most Africans are too busy trying to eke out anexistence to tend with political violence against thewest. The lack of transportation and communication 22
  30. 30. capability in Africa’s vast rural areas is not conduciveto the logistical and operational necessities of modernterrorism. A second explanation posits that it is notpoverty alone that promotes affiliation with terroristgroups, but rather economic inequality.84 Under thisrubric, economic development itself—if inequitable—can cause the social unrest on which terrorism feeds.Mounting evidence supports the claim that Africa’snewly-emerging oil states are particularly susceptibleto this trend.85 The third explanation is definitional: Africa has inrecent decades suffered from massive bouts of socialconflict in which combatants use terrorist tactics. Theseconflicts, including their terrorist aspects, have simplyattracted little American attention.86 For instance, theLord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a militant Christiangroup based in northern Uganda and southern Sudan,has waged a 20-year insurgency that has left over twomillion Ugandans homeless and displaced. The group,which claims to seek to replace Uganda’s governmentwith one based on the Ten Commandments, killed orabducted over 20,000 children before agreeing to anuneasy ceasefire in 2006.87 The LRA alone has killedmany times the number of innocent civilians thanall al-Qaeda-related attacks in Africa combined. Inthe Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largestinterstate conflict since World War II claimed over 3million victims at the turn of the millennium.88 Manyof these died at the hands of genocidal militias andterror-inducing marauders. In Sudan, ongoing fightingbetween the government-backed Janjaweed and Darfurirebel forces has cost over 200,000 lives, virtually all ofthem civilian.89 These conflicts highlight the challengeof defining who is, and who is not, a terrorist. Similarclashes in the future may benefit from the support topeacekeeping that AFRICOM will be able to deliver to 23
  31. 31. Africa. None, however, will benefit from a commandpursuing an operational concept of aggregation, as thefollowing case studies will show.CASE STUDY: THE SAHEL, THE GSPC, ANDOEF-TS The Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI) grew out of the post-9/11 idea that areas of limited governmental controlserve as natural safehavens for transnational terroristorganizations. As outlined in the 2006 NationalStrategy for Combating Terrorism, these “ungoverned”or “undergoverned” spaces pose a direct threat toAmerican security as “secure spaces that allow [U.S.]enemies to plan, organize, train, and prepare foroperations.”90 As envisioned, the PSI sought to providethe states of the Sahel—possessing some of the largestand poorest undergoverned spaces on the planet—with the training and equipment necessary to moreeffectively administer the tools of state sovereignty. The Sahel region first came into the post-9/11“ungoverned space” limelight in February 2003. Underthe leadership of Ammari Saïfi—better known as “ElPara” because of his background as a paratrooper inthe Algerian army—a faction of the Algerian rebelgroup, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat(GSPC), kidnapped 31 Europeans touring the Sahara.91After fleeing into Mali to evade the Algerians, El Parafreed his captives in exchange for a reported €5 millionfrom the German government. Early in 2004, he waslocated in northern Mali by Algerian forces, and wasthen chased by U.S.-supported security forces fromMali into Niger, and finally into Chad. Though heescaped, most of his band were killed in a March 2004battle with Chadian and Nigerien troops supported by 24
  32. 32. U.S. SOF. He was later captured by members of theChadian rebel group, Movement for Democracy andJustice (MDJT), and was returned to custody in Algiersby way of N’Djamena and Tripoli.92 El Para’s undertaking vaulted the GSPC into theupper echelons of U.S. counterterrorism efforts inNorthern Africa. Prior to the hostage taking, the GSPCboth defined itself and was seen by most outsideobservers as a domestic Islamist insurgency seeking totopple the Algerian government. In 2002, for example, aCongressional Research Service report entitled “Africaand the War on Terrorism” omitted the GSPC and all ofNorth Africa from its examination of Africa’s potentialtransnational terror breeding grounds. Instead, thereport focused on more pressing developments inSudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and SouthAfrica.93 Following El Para’s raid, however, the GSPCincreasingly came to be seen by U.S. officials as aregional and transcontinental threat. From a post-9/11 mindset, El Para’s nomadic behavior and attackon western tourists seemed to reinforce PSI’s corephilosophical underpinnings: A transnational terroristgroup had used the Sahel’s ungoverned areas to attackWestern interests and evade authorities. Additionally,the area in which he had operated was poor, sparselypopulated, and overwhelmingly Muslim. The attackwas widely portrayed as the GSPC’s emergence asa global actor, and as a wake up call to U.S. forceseager to avoid another Afghanistan. An article writtenshortly after El Para’s capture and printed in Air ForceMagazine underscored this fear. Entitled “Swamp ofTerror in the Sahara,” the article asserted that “Africa’ssprawling desert is now a magnet for terrorists.” Itincluded a map labeled with all of North Africa—an 25
  33. 33. area larger than the continental United States—as“The New Front in the War on Terrorism.” With littlemore than El Para’s kidnapping and reports of NorthAfricans appearing in Iraq to back up such claims, thearticle certified that “impoverished areas of Africawith large Muslim populations”—in other words,over half the continent—were now “a haven for radicalIslamists.”94 There should be no doubt that El Para’s capturewas a tactical success. PSI-trained Sahelian troops,with a significant level of U.S. assistance, demonstrateda remarkable level of skill and coordination intracking the fugitive through the desert. Given themassive resources the United States can bring to bearagainst Islamist insurgents operating in the Sahel,similar tactical successes should be expected underAFRICOM. Yet in its post-El Para reaction to the GSPC, the U.S.Government’s response to terrorism in North Africahas been a strategic failure. A misunderstanding of therelationship between North Africa’s Muslim populationand transnational terrorism has oversimplified threatsemanating from within the region. Ignorance of localconditions and ethnic fault lines has driven policiesdestabilizing key states. And most importantly, amisunderstanding of the GSPC’s nature has playeddirectly into al-Qaeda’s hands by aggregating a localinsurgency into the global jihad.Islam and North Africa. Inevitably, in-depth studies of the West and NorthAfrican regions argue that while ethnic fissures andfundamentalist Islam are present in the region, thesefeatures are not tantamount to a “welcome mat” for 26
  34. 34. jihadis.95 Such detailed ethnographies are difficult toreduce to talking points. They do, however, produce apicture at odds with a key premise of the ungoverned-space thesis as it relates to West Africa—that jihadigroups find a receptive population in which to hideand recruit.96 As previously noted, the overwhelming majorityof Africa’s Muslims are Sufis. Adherents generallysubscribe to one of three Sufi brotherhoods, groupsthat tend to avoid explicit government involvementbut wield an indirect influence on political events.Generalizations that African Sufis have been peacefulthroughout their history are erroneous. Yet, throughoutthe Sahel and West Africa, Sufi brotherhoods currentlyserve a central role in both religious and civil society.97 The Sahel is also home to branches of fundamentalistand reformist Islam, but here, too, an authentic pictureis complicated by nuance. In addition to the activistTabligh movement described earlier, Salafi Islam hasin past decades made inroads against the historicallydominant Sufi orders.98 Yet even within the Salafiyya,fundamentalism rarely equates with jihadi ideology,just as the overwhelming majority of Christianfundamentalists eschew violence. Salafis in Africa group into two broad currents:the Salafiyya Ilmiyya and Salafiyya Jihadiyya.99 TheSalafiyya Ilmiyya, or “scholarly Salafis,” comprise byfar the larger of the two groups. This conservative secturges obedience to the state, but finds no justification inscripture for political action. It thus requires abstentionfrom political involvement. The movement’s rejectionof political activism has brought it into conflictwith Islamist political groups such as the MuslimBrothers.100 The Salafiyya Ilmiyya have thus beenused to counterbalance Islamist political parties in 27
  35. 35. many Muslim states, including, at times, Morocco andAlgeria.101 While the spread of Salafiyya Ilmiyya hascome as a shock in recent years to various sub-Saharangovernments (notably Nigeria), their belief system ismore bulwark than bastion vis-à-vis the global jihad. Only the Salafiyya Jihadiyya, or “fighting Salafis,”reject the standing political order and resort toviolence in perceived defense of Islam.102 The politicalwritings of 1960s Egyptian radical Sayyid Qutb playan influential role in this doctrine. Qutb justified anabandonment of the Sunni principle of subservienceto the Muslim state, thereby discarding a core tenet ofSalafiyya Ilmiyya.103 Salafiyya Jihadiyya numbers grewsignificantly in the wake of the successful campaignagainst the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s.By the 1990s, veterans of the Afghanistan campaignhad returned home to Egypt and Algeria, establishingsimilar insurgencies against their home governments.The origins of the GSPC grew out of this jihad, later tobe affiliated with al-Qaeda’s globalist ideology. Analysts taking measure of Islamism in West Africashould bear in mind the distinctions between SalafiyyaIlmiyya and the much rarer Salafiyya Jihadiyya. Yetthis task is often difficult to achieve in practice. All toooften, explicitly violent and nonviolent Islamist strainsare confused and aggregated by observers unfamiliarwith local nuances. Instead, many commentators havelatched onto the influx of foreign, often Persian Gulf-based, religious NGOs and charities working in theregion as evidence of malevolent trends. Such a concernshould not be taken lightly. Since 9/11, the UnitedStates has succeeded in shutting down several Islamiccharities wittingly or unwittingly aiding terrorists inAfrica.104 Fundamentalist mosques and madrassashave grown in number since the 1990s. In dealing 28
  36. 36. with Islamic charities and missionaries, however,patience, expertise, and careful scrutiny should defineU.S. Government activities. Fundamentalism is notsynonymous with militancy or transnational terror,and messages to the contrary damage U.S. interests inAfrica. Furthermore, a picture of ever-growing Islamistpresence in West Africa is far from absolute: recentelection results in Mauritania and Senegal suggest thatpolitical Islam’s influence may actually be declining inthe region.105 One place where fundamentalism may be growingis Nigeria—home to half of Africa’s 140 millionMuslims and a critical U.S. energy partner. Saudi-funded proselytizers have initiated a fundamentalistresurgence in the country’s Muslim north, threateningan already precarious balance with the Christiansouth. Yet as cautioned by Africa scholars PrincetonLyman and Stephen Morrison, north-south tension inNigeria stems as much from the north’s economic slideunder former president Olusegun Obasanjo as it doesfrom Islamic fundamentalism.106 The 2000 installationof sharia law in 12 northern Nigerian states—seen asa sure sign of radicalism by many western analysts—was as much a response to crime and corruption as amarker of religious trends. Indeed, as an author writingin Foreign Affairs recently pointed out, northern Nigeriahas always been subject to some form of civil sharialaw, even during British colonial rule.107 Since its latestincarnation, sharia has become popular in the northas a symbol of hope and morality, while Taliban-styledraconian justice has been largely ignored.108 Finally, Africa is not adapting to the onrush ofIslam in isolation. Christianity, too, is sweeping thecontinent in what some commentators have labeled“Africa’s Great Awakening.”109 Today, 20 percent of 29
  37. 37. Africans describe themselves as Pentecostal, and by2025 the continent’s Christian population is expectedto double to 633 million.110 In what promises to bean earnest struggle for African souls, long-term U.S.interests will best be served by avoiding perceptions ofstoking religious tension.Local Factors. The sparsely populated Sahara and its Sahelianborderlands have hosted nomads, rebels, smugglers,criminals, traders, and any combination therein forcenturies. The Moors and Tauregs that populate theborder areas between Mauritania, Algeria, Mali,and Niger have transited the Sahara with loads ofgold, weapons, slaves, and other goods for centuries.Indeed, it was only in the 18th century and with theadvent of European-dominated commerce along thecoast that the peoples of the Sahel watched their oncelucrative trade decline.111 Today, trade operations arelargely illicit. The routes themselves are nicknamedthe “Marlboro Road” because of the large number ofillegal cigarettes making their way across the Saharafor eventual entry into Europe.112 National governments seldom play a hands-on role in the Sahel, but this condition should notbe confused with a total lack of control. Instead,central governments and their distant citizenry haveestablished a system of indirect rule, in which variousethnic tribal leaders are coopted to maintain peaceand security.113 Such a policy is in place to amelioratelong-standing ethnic tensions between the southerncapitals and their northern citizens. Both Niger andMali have experienced significant Taureg revolts, andconsiderable strains exist in both states. As stressed in 30
  38. 38. 2006 by former Ambassador to Mali Robert Pringle,such tensions are “a classic case of conflict betweennomads and central authority.”114 This precarious balance between central authorityand the hinterlands is threatened by injudicious U.S.military involvement. To give one example, at theconclusion of the last Malian Taureg uprising in 1995,Bamako incorporated many Taureg into its customsdepartment. Such an arrangement allowed local leadersto profit from duties imposed on both legal and illegalgoods. The arrangement mollified the Taureg and keptpeace in Mali. Yet as the United States continues toprosecute the war on terrorism against elements of theGSPC in the region, it threatens to disrupt this bargainby shutting down the trade routes. Without providingan alternative means of sustenance, such actions willdisrupt the region’s economy, and hence its politicalstability.115 The irony is that U.S. efforts to train Sahelianmilitaries through OEF-TS are often cited as examplesof catalyzing “African solutions to African problems.”As long as the GWOT remains at the heart of U.S.capacity-building in Africa, however, “Africanproblems” will be selected within predetermined U.S.boundaries. Malians sense that the greatest threat totheir democracy rests with unsettling the precariousnorthern situation. Marauding Algerian terroristsand radical Islam, meanwhile, barely register as aconcern.116 What does register is that U.S. pressureto hunt terrorists will destabilize the Taureg. AsAmbassador Pringle has noted, “some Malians areno doubt worried about their ability to apply toughmeasures [in line with U.S. policies] in a manner thatwould not aggravate old political grievances.”117 Asimilar situation is summed up by Kilcullen, who has 31
  39. 39. noted that “in many cases today, the counterinsurgentrepresents revolutionary change, while the insurgentfights to preserve the status quo of ungoverned spaces.”Referring to Pakistan, Kilcullen points out that “Theenemy includes al-Qaeda-linked extremists . . . but alsolocal tribesmen fighting to preserve their traditionalculture against 21st century encroachment.”118 Todayin the Sahel, al-Qaeda-linked extremists do not yetfight hand-in-hand with the region’s nomads. Yetgiven cause for solidarity, such an outcome is not outof the question.The GSPC, the Sahel, and al-Qaeda. According to the 2002 Patterns of Global Terrorism,the GSPC’s favored modus operandi at the timeconsisted of “false roadblocks and attacks againstconvoys transporting military, police, or othergovernment personnel.”119 Its ties to the global jihadconsisted of “contacts with other North Africanextremists sympathetic to al Qaida.” A RAND analystassessed that the group struggled to carry on despitesignificant setbacks due to Algerian security forces andinfighting.120 Five years later, the GSPC is officially affiliatedwith al-Qaeda, having changed its name to al-Qaedain the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Senior U.S. officialsassess the threat emanating from GSPC/AQ mergerto be “significant, very dangerous, and growing.”121GSPC attacks now carry al-Qaeda-like signatures:Recent tactics have included suicide bombingsand coordinated, remote-controlled detonations.122The group is rumored to have joined forces withlike-minded jihadi groups in Morocco, Libya, andTunisia.123 Increasingly, GSPC spokesmen refer to theiractions in language of the global jihad. In April 2007, a 32
  40. 40. mouthpiece declared, “We won’t rest until every inchof Islamic land is liberated from foreign forces.”124 There is no simple explanation for this expansionin the GSPC’s operational reach and stated intent.Considerable credit for the transformation restswith the global jihad’s top leadership. Despite initialGSPC reluctance to associate with al-Qaeda, Osamabin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have successfullyintegrated the Algerian insurgency into their ownrhetoric of a worldwide conflict between Islam andthe “crusaders.”125 In an October 2002 letter addressed“To the Americans,” bin Laden tied events in Algeriadirectly to U.S. actions: When the Islamic party in Algeria wanted to practice democracy and they won the election, you [the Americans] unleashed your collaborators in the Algerian army on them, and attacked them with tanks and guns, imprisoned them and tortured them—a new lesson from the “American book of democracy.”126 In closing a July 2006 audio recording, he linkedAlgeria with other major theaters of the global jihad: O Lord, make us and the mujahidin everywhere steadfast, especially in Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Algeria, and the land of the two holy mosques. O Lord, guide them toward their targets, make them steadfast, instill courage in their hearts, and provide them with Your aid, and grant them victory over their and Your enemy. They and we have no supporter but You. You have power and can carry out Your will. “Allah hath full power and control over His affairs; but most among mankind know it not.”127 According to bin Laden, the Algerian civil war ofthe 1990s was no longer bound within the confines ofterritory or time. The Algerian government’s repressive 33
  41. 41. tactics were American tactics, “crusader” tactics. TheGSPC’s resistance was now pan-Islamist resistance,no different from al-Qaeda’s other fronts around theworld. The two groups officially merged 3 months afterthe July missive on September 11, 2006. Al-Qaeda’splan of aggregating the once-local insurgency into itsglobalist agenda had been completely successful. Al-Qaeda is not the only actor in the GSPC’s recentaggrandizement, however. Both the group itself andthe U.S. Government (and various European securityservices) have played significant roles in the GSPC’srecent transformation, though for very differentreasons. As with separatists in the Philippines and theCaucasus, the roots of the GSPC reside in nonpan-Islamist grievances. In the midst of economic declinein the late 1980s and early 1990s, Algeria’s ruling,secularist National Liberation Front (FLN) governmentfelt it had little choice but to open its one-partysystem to elections. An Islamist party calling itself theIslamic Salvation Front (FIS) emerged as the FLN’sprimary political competitor. Despite containingradical elements, the FIS’s moderate wing acceptedparticipation in the electoral process and soon tookcommand of the party. On the strength of its moderatestance and widespread discontent with the FLN, the FISsecured major successes in the municipal and legislativeelections of 1990-91. On the eve of another round of FISgains in 1992, the nascent Algerian democratic systemimploded. In what a Council on Foreign Relationsscholar has called “one of the greatest miscalculationsin modern Algerian history,” an Algerian militaryfearful of FIS victory abolished the liberal experimentand took power.128 The coup resulted in a bloody 10-year civil war, pitting various insurgent coalitions 34
  42. 42. against the repressive army-led government and eachother. Before its conclusion in 2002, upwards of 100,000Algerians would perish.129 Disgusted with the FIS’s perceived moderation,a more extreme Islamist insurgency—the ArmedIslamic Group (GIA)—formed to battle the Algeriangovernment in late 1991.130 Many of the GIA’s membershad been radicalized in Afghanistan fighting theSoviet Union, and several had contact with Osamabin Laden.131 By the mid-1990s, GIA actions hadbegun to spiral into nihilism. The group charged theentire Islamic population of Algeria with apostasy,and began killing hundreds of civilians at a time inplanned massacres.132 The GSPC emerged from withinthe largely discredited GIA in 1999, promising to carryon the Islamic jihad against the Algerian state withoutthe wanton civilian attacks of its predecessor.133 From its first days, internal power struggles andweakness have defined the GSPC and its relationshipto al-Qaeda. In Western press conferences and mediareports, the GSPC is presented as a monolithic entity,slowly enlarging its power and reach. Much to thecontrary, the group has for many years been wrackedwith internal division and internecine warfare. As notedabove, the group’s first commander, Hassan Hattab,sought to distance himself from bin Laden’s globalstruggle, and instead concentrate the GSPC’s energyon Algeria. Not only was bin Laden a divisive figurewithin the GSPC, Hattab has since noted in interviews,but he also backdated his involvement with the grouponce it achieved notoriety.134 Hardline factions in the GSPC, it is now clear,overstated their links to al-Qaeda in order to overcomeHattab’s conciliatory line, attract desperately neededfinancial resources, and avoid losing membership 35
  43. 43. to the Algerian government’s increasingly effectivecounterterrorism and amnesty initiatives.135 By thetime of El Para’s much celebrated hostage-taking in thesummer of 2003, these hardliners had ousted Hattab,installing in his place a brutal former GIA leader namedNabil Sahrawi. Sahrawi immediately reoriented theGSPC toward global jihadi rhetoric, stating soon afterhis assumption of power: Here we have evil America declaring a crusade and preparing the troops of the infidels to attack Islam everywhere. President Bush and many high officials clearly and loudly declared that this is a religious war under the banner of the cross. The goal of this war, which they called a “war on terrorism” and “war against evil” and other names, is to keep Islam and the Muslims from establishing the Country of Islam.136 Contrary to reports of “Terror in the Maghreb,” theGSPC’s turn toward pan-Islamist rhetoric was not madefrom a position of strength, but rather from weakness.Sahrawi’s ascendancy transpired against a backdropof devastating Algerian security raids and tighteningfinances, a state of affairs since noted in both civilianand U.S. military studies.137 The GSPC had begun toloose popular support among the Algerian populaceand had split into distinct northern and southerngroups.138 Sahrawi and his chief lieutenant wouldsoon be hunted down and killed by Algerian securityforces.139 This was the context in which El Para, eagerto evade capture and desperate for funds, launched hisill-fated kidnapping. Yet despite the GSPC’s rhetoricalturn toward the language of al-Qaeda, El Para soonmade clear through his actions that the raid had littlein common with standard al-Qaeda hostage-takingprocedures. In contrast to the roughly contemporaneous 36
  44. 44. treatment of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,El Para’s interest in his European captives focusedexclusively on the euros they represented.140 Whilethere should be little doubt of El Para’s intention tofurther the cause of jihad in Algeria—he was laterreported to have purchased arms with the ransommoney—his kidnapping operation was a fundraisingevent, not a pan-Islamist call to arms. That, of course, is not how many U.S. analystshave regarded the attack. El Para was seen in theWest as indicative of the GSPC’s growing regionalstrength. Fellow southern GSPC commander MokhtarBelmokhtar’s 2005 raid on a military outpost inMauritania seemed to support such an analysis.Yet as with the hostage-taking, details surroundingBelmokhtar’s attack are as likely to indicate a struggling,fractured GSPC as a powerful new al-Qaeda ally.Belmokhtar is as much bandit as he is jihadi. His factionof the GSPC has been described as “more like a criminalorganization than a committed terrorist group.”141 Inhis own account of the Mauritanian raid, Belmokhtarindicates that his primary goal was material. Heproudly lists his haul: a mortar, an anti-aircraft cannon,58 Kalashnikovs, 2 rocket propelled grenade launchers,50,000 rounds of ammunition, and 7 Toyota trucks.142As with El Para’s raid, all of Belmokhtar’s hostages—this time 30—were later released.143 Belmokhtar himselfhas since been marginalized; he is alternately reportedas having been killed by Malian Tauregs, or in amnestynegotiations with Algiers.144 Immediately following Belmokhtar’s raid, aSOCEUR spokesman labeled the GSPC the numberone threat to the Sahel region.145 The attack, said thespokesman, “was a clear sign ‘they’ve become moreactive’.”146 Similar statements and references to the 37
  45. 45. region’s “ungoverned spaces” have dominated U.S.Government discourse on policy in the Sahel. Data,however, dispute both these claims. Beginning with the military putsch in 1992, Islamistattacks in Algeria follow a sharp bell-shaped curve.147The country experienced 76 insurgent attacks in 1992, afigure that would steadily rise to a peak of 311 in 1995,at the height of GIA atrocity. From that point onwards,however, Algeria has experienced ever-lower rates ofIslamist attacks. By 1997, the figure stood at 127. By2001, reflecting the GSPC’s existential crisis, it was 20.In a decade-long insurgency that cost 100,000 lives, theU.S. State Department reported that the total number ofterrorist, civilian, and security force deaths in Algeriain 2006 had declined to 323.148 This figure followedtotals of 488 deaths in 2005, 429 in 2004, and 1,162 in2003. Furthermore, the GSPC’s two transnational attacksin the Sahel’s “ungoverned spaces”—El Para’s hostagetaking of 2003 and Belmokhtar’s attack of 2005—aremost correctly viewed as isolated events spurredby desperation. In a 2006 paper undertaken at theNaval Postgraduate School, researchers conducteda quantitative study of all GSPC operations since thegroup’s founding. Their results suggest an assessmentat odds with U.S. policy: [The] GSPC, as it is currently (based on their operations), does not appear to be a “terrorist” group as much as an internal insurgency against the government, one that is trying to stay alive through shakedowns, roadblocks, and incursions to raise cash and other resources.149 In response to the “ungoverned spaces” thesismanifest in OEF-TS, the researchers noted that: The results were partially inconclusive. While the data did invalidate the assumption that the operations occurred in 38
  46. 46. regions consistent with the Sahel, [italics inserted] the data was not precise enough to determine how far individual operations were from areas of strong government control. The data did show that operations occurred primarily in the northern, more populously dense region [along the Mediterranean coast].150 On the GSPC’s networks outside of Africa, the dataindicated that: [The] GSPC’s international impact has been relatively small and has been limited to infrequent resource generating operations leading to arrests of GSPC and al- Qaeda members and diaspora affiliates in a number of European and Middle Eastern countries.151 This last passage refers to another oft-citedelement of the GSPC’s perceived growth: its ties tojihadi networks in Europe. Recent raids in Britain,Spain, France, and Italy demonstrate that GSPC-associated individuals are active across Europe.152Yet history suggests that the GSPC’s links across theMediterranean, while dangerous, do not indicate anexpanding threat. In the mid-1990s, GIA-linked NorthAfricans in Europe conducted a wave of bombings thatkilled and wounded scores in France.153 Explosionsrocked the Parisian Metro line and a bomb near Lyonunsuccessfully attempted to derail a high-speed train.154By the end of 1996, GIA-related attacks in France grewso severe that the military was called upon to conductbomb patrols.155 Additional underground Islamist cellsexisted in Stockholm, London, and Nice.156 Today, ties between GSPC members in Africa andEurope are based primarily on fundraising, logistics,communications, and propaganda.157 Effective lawenforcement has achieved notable successes incurtailing many of these activities. Since its inception, 39
  47. 47. and in contrast to the GIA of the 1990s, the GSPC hasthus far achieved no attacks in Europe.The GSPC and the GWOT. By 9/11, Osama bin Laden had begun to reshapethe GSPC insurgency into its current pan-Islamist form.For their part, the GSPC’s leaders proved receptiveto this strategy. Riven with factionalism, unpopularwith the Algerian populace, short on finances, andthreatened with extinction, a rhetorical turn to globaljihad made strategic sense. No matter that operationsremained focused almost exclusively on the Algeriangovernment—pledging bayat to bin Laden thrust theonce-marginalized group into the headlines. This strategy of aggregation has been helpedimmeasurably by U.S. policy under the GWOT.Instead of diminishing the GSPC’s importance inAfrica, ubiquitous references to its expansion fuel binLaden’s designs. The GSPC’s internal fissures and itsinconsistencies in rhetoric and action are ignored bymany western analysts, not broadcast to a receptiveAfrican audience. Bin Laden’s chosen designation—al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—is now the acceptedform of reference to a group that until recently hadonly marginal ties to al-Qaeda. Far from portrayingthe GSPC as a serious but relatively isolated aspectof North African security, U.S. policies contribute tomaintaining the group’s relevance.CASE STUDY: SOMALIA, AL QAEDA, ANDCJTF-HOA In late December 2006 and early January 2007,the Ethiopian army swept into Somalia in one ofthe most lopsided military engagements in recent 40
  48. 48. history. In their wake, Ethiopian troops killed anddispersed hundreds of Islamist fighters aligned withSomalia’s ruling Islamic Courts Union (ICU).158 TheICU had come to power in Mogadishu only 6 monthspreviously. Though unabashedly Islamist, the Courtshad been generally well-regarded by Mogadishu’snotably nonfundamentalist population. After 15 yearsof near-constant violence, the group brought a muchneeded respite to the war-torn capital. The ICU’s maingovernmental competitor and Somalia’s internationallyacknowledged sovereign, the Transitional FederalGovernment (TFG), had lacked the legitimacy andbroad-based support to contest the ICU’s rise. TheTFG did, however, have Ethiopia’s staunch backingand the good sense to position itself as a secular, “anti-terrorist” organization. On the strength of Ethiopianmight and with support from the U.S. military, theTFG replaced the ICU in Mogadishu just days after theinitial invasion. Somalia’s forced regime change occurred through analignment of U.S. and Ethiopian strategic imperatives.Addis Ababa saw the ICU as a regional threat. In additionto its radical Islamist rhetoric and ties to terrorism, theCourts had supported rebels within Ethiopia, had astated desire to reclaim Ethiopia’s Ogaden region forSomalia, and had received support from Ethiopia’sEritrean enemy to the north.159 All of these goals areanathema to Addis Ababa, which, as a regional power,seeks a friendly Somali government unwilling tochallenge its own ethnic Somali possessions. Barringthis unlikely outcome, it will settle for a fractured, weak,or nonexistant Somali regime. Before the meteoricrise of the ICU, Ethiopia had largely achieved thissecondary aim. As long as Somalia’s Islamists battledfor control of the country with various clan leaders 41
  49. 49. and warlords, Ethiopian interests were secure. An ICUfirmly in power and friendly with Eritrea and ethnicSomalis in the Ogaden, however, threatened Ethiopiansecurity on numerous levels. U.S. policy in the Horn of late has not mirroredEthiopian realpolitik so much as it has been exclusivelydictated by the GWOT. The ICU’s head, Sheik HassanDahir Aweys, is also known to have led Al Ittihad AlIslami (AIAI), a Somali militant Islamist group. Membersof AIAI, in turn, had long-standing, if convoluted, linksto al-Qaeda. In the run-up to the December invasion,the ICU/AIAI partnership was suspected of harboringhundreds of foreign jihadis. Included in this numberwas Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the Comoros Islandnative reportedly behind the 1998 Embassy bombingsin Kenya and Tanzania.160 In its drive to kill or captureal-Qaeda leaders like Mohammed, U.S. military forcestrained elements of the Ethiopian military, supportedthe invasion with intelligence and ground-based SOFadvisors, and carried out air strikes on suspected al-Qaeda targets.161 The Ethiopian invasion, it was hoped,would rid Somalia of its Islamist element while settingit on the path to stability. Eight months after Ethiopia’s sweeping victory,Mogadishu’s streets are now as lawless as ever. Despiteearly optimism, many of Somalia’s Islamists are nowengaged in a vicious insurgency against the Ethiopian-backed TFG. The TFG, for its part, has been in no rushto settle events diplomatically. It has, however, fullyadopted the language of the GWOT, declaring that,“The battle is clearly between terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and the government supported by Ethiopian andA.U. troops.”162 Meanwhile, the UN reports that 400,000Somalis have had to flee their homes in the wake ofpost-invasion violence. A recent Human Rights Watch 42
  50. 50. report concludes that while atrocities have taken placeon all sides, Ethiopian/TFG forces have conductedthe worst abuses, including deliberate attacks oncivilians.163 Eritrea continues to sponsor the anti-TFGinsurgency, threatening a return to full-scale war withEthiopia. The last round of fighting between the twostates, which concluded in 2000, killed hundreds ofthousands.164 Even once pro-TFG segments of Somalia’spopulace are enraged at the Ethiopian incursion andensuing anarchy. U.S. support for Ethiopia, as well asrumors of collateral damage related to SOF air strikes,have renewed anti-American animus.165 Elements ofthe global insurgency, from local Islamists in the Hornto Osama bin Laden, trumpet these events as one moreexample of the U.S. war on Islam. Finally, many ofthe high value individuals targeted by U.S. SOF in theinitial invasion remain at large.166Security in the Horn. Nothing illustrates the contradictions of U.S. securitypolicy in Africa better than operations in the Horn.CENTCOM’s—soon to be AFRICOM’s—CombinedJoint Task Force-Horn of Africa is the most visible U.S.endeavor in the region. CENTCOM established CJTF-HOA in late 2002 to disrupt the flow of jihadis from theMiddle East to East Africa in the wake of the invasionof Afghanistan. It soon became clear, however, that theregion encompassing the African states of Djibouti,Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan containedless of an al-Qaeda presence than once feared. Eager tomaintain a presence in the volatile region, CENTOMquickly amended CJTF-HOA’s mandate. The TaskForce based at Djibouti’s Camp Lemonier soon took ona role battling not jihadis, but the root causes thoughtto breed them. 43
  51. 51. CJTF-HOA seeks to achieve this goal through atwo-pronged strategy. First, as with OEF-TS, it engagesin military-to-military training of local forces.167 Thesetraining sessions include aspects of basic militaryoperations, border security, and counterterrorism.Second, it emphasizes civil-military operations anddevelopment initiatives. By virtually all accounts, thismission posture has achieved localized successes.168Results have been relatively small in number butimpressive none the less. CJTF-HOA has built over 50schools and nearly 30 clinics. It has dug dozens of wellsfor irrigation and drinking water, and has inoculatedthousands of East Africans and their livestock againstdisease.169 Its leaders and spokesmen are proud oftheir nonkinetic approach to counterinsurgency. Asa former Task Force Commander noted in 2005, “wedo not seek to engage enemy forces in combat; our‘maneuver elements’ are doctors, veterinarians, civilengineers and well-drillers.”170 Despite this assertion, CJTF-HOA’s name is nowinextricably linked to U.S. support of the Ethiopianassault. Open-source reports differ on the Task Force’slevel of support to SOF during the invasion.171 Yet levelsof veracity in such assertions hardly matter. CJTF-HOAhas been indelibly linked to the invasion of Somalianow engulfing that territory in its latest conflagration.This connection has not been lost on the intendedrecipients of America’s strategic communication. As with recent operations in North Africa, theSomali incursion demonstrated a U.S. military posturepreoccupied with short-term GWOT objectives. As inNorth Africa, this policy outcome was driven largelyby a flawed analysis of local conditions in Somalia.Assumptions made under the GWOT led to anaggregation of local actors with the global insurgency.Aggregation, in turn, suggested that the use of kinetic 44
  52. 52. force was the most beneficial course of action forachieving U.S. interests. While short-term interestswere indeed met—there can be little doubt thatU.S./Ethiopian forces dispatched a large number ofSomali militants—longer-term interests have sufferedconsiderably in the fallout.Somalia and the Failed State/Terrorism Nexus. Much of U.S. strategic thinking related to Somaliafocuses on its status as a failed state. Certainly nonation on earth is more deserving of the term. Formore than 15 years, the jutting territory on Africa’seastern edge has been mired in a state of civil war andwidening anarchy. Upon the withdrawal of Americanforces after the disastrous “Black Hawk Down” attackof October 1993, the United States seldom involveditself in the country’s downward spiral. That positionchanged dramatically after 9/11, as GWOT policycame to focus on links between failed states andtransnational terrorism. Such thinking was codified inThe 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States,which warned that, “America is now threatened lessby conquering states than we are by failing ones.”172Somalia, as the ultimate example of state failure,seemed to provide the ultimate safe haven. Such thinking provided the original rationale forCJTF-HOA in 2002. It also led to U.S. Governmentinvolvement in recent years with various Somaliwarlords eager to trade “terrorists” for cash.173 Bandingtogether under the title “Alliance for the Restorationof Peace and Counterterrorism,” this group ofU.S.-backed warlords attempted to gain control ofMogadishu in June 2006. The bid for power proveddisastrous. Backlash from the takeover attempt directly 45
  53. 53. strengthened the ICU, which shortly consolidatedits hold on Mogadishu and precipitated the currentcrisis.174 Though the failed state/terrorism nexus has guidedU.S. action in Somalia in recent years, increasing evi-dence contests the theory’s very basis. Both academicand government-affiliated studies suggest that failedstate environments like Somalia are, in fact, less condu-cive to transnational terrorism than environments withsome amount of governmental control. Horn specialistKenneth Menkhaus has noted that post-9/11 fears ofal-Qaeda bases in Somalia were unfounded.175 Claimsthat AIAI operated as an al-Qaeda subsidiary—basedlargely on Ethiopian intelligence reports—were alsodispelled. Though individual Somalia-linked al-Qaedamembers have carried out attacks in East Africa—mostnotably the 1998 Embassy bombings—the territorynever realized its mantle as an ideal safe haven. Similarconclusions have been reached by Naval PostgraduateSchool academics Anna Simons and David Tucker,as well as Naval War College professor JonathanStevenson.176 In all cases, these scholars contend thatfailed states are no more hospitable to terrorists thanthey are to any other potential inhabitant. They tend toproduce citizens ill-equipped to lead or even functionas a part of the worldwide jihad. They are dangerousand often require an in-depth knowledge of shiftingpolitical alliances to ensure personal survival. Andthey lack the basic infrastructure and logistical supportnecessary for planning and/or carrying out attacks. In the case of Somalia, the greatest challenge to thefailed state/terrorism nexus comes from a recent reportproduced by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)at West Point.177 Based on an exhaustive examinationof al-Qaeda actions and correspondence since the early 46