The report released on 7 September 2017 unequivocally identifies poverty, deprivation and a lack of confidence in the leadership as key drivers of extremism.
It is particularly enlightening that the report sounds the alarm against military action and how that deepens extremism. In light of recent events in the South East of Nigeria it would appear that the Federal Government of Nigeria is fuelling extremism and not dousing it. The full report is available here and the press release and highlights here.
Some excerpts from the report below.
The Journey to Extremism research unequivocally underscores the relevance of economic factors as drivers of recruitment.
The grievances associated with growing up in contexts where multidimensional poverty is high and far deeper than national averages, with the lived reality of unemployment and underemployment, render ‘economic factors’ a major source of frustration identified by those who joined violent extremist groups.
If an individual was studying or working, it emerged that that he or she would be less likely to become a member of an extremist organization.
Employment is the single most frequently cited ‘immediate need’ faced at the time of joining.
The research makes clear that a sense of grievance towards, and limited confidence in, government is widespread in the regions of Africa associated with the highest incidence of violent extremism.
Disaffection with government is highest by significant margins among the Journey to Extremism respondents who were recruited by violent extremist groups across several key indicators.
Grievances against security actors, as well as politicians, are particularly marked, with an average of 78 percent rating low levels of trust in the police, politicians and military.
Those most susceptible to recruitment express a significantly lower degree of confidence in the potential for democratic institutions to deliver progress or meaningful change.
The research specifically set out to discover what pushed a handful of individuals to join violent extremist groups, when many others facing similar sets of circumstances did not.
This specific moment or factor is referred to as the ‘tipping point’. The idea of a transformative trigger that pushes individuals decisively from the ‘at-risk’ category to actually taking the step of joining is substantiated by the Journey to Extremism data.
A striking 71 percent pointed to ‘government action’, including ‘killing of a family member or friend’ or ‘arrest of a family member or friend’, as the incident that prompted them to join.
These findings throw into stark relief the question of how counter-terrorism and wider security functions of governments in at-risk environments conduct themselves with regard to human rights and due process.
State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse.
Emotions of ‘hope/excitement’ and ‘being part of something bigger’ were high among those who joined, indicating the ‘pull’ of opportunity for radical change
and rebellion against the status quo
Despite the highly personal aspects of the journey to extremism, local community social networks were also influential.
Indeed, the journey to extremism in Africa appears to rely significantly less heavily than in other regions on the Internet as a venue for recruitment.
Where there is injustice, deprivation and desperation, violent extremist ideologies present themselves as a challenge to the status quo and a form of escape.
Grievances against government and state security actors are particularly pronounced among those most vulnerable to recruitment, who also express deep-seated scepticism about the possibility of positive change.
The Journey to Extremism research provides startling new evidence of just how directly counter-productive security- driven responses can be when conducted insensitively.
These findings suggest that a dramatic reappraisal of state security-focused interventions is urgently required, including more effective oversight of human rights compliance, rule of law and state accountability.
Going forward, it is essential to long-term outcomes that international commitments – such as those shared across United Nations member states – to human rights and rule of law, citizens’ participation and protection, and accountability of state security forces be actively upheld by all.
It is also critical to ensure that there are no counter- productive results from counter-terrorism, particularly in regard to civic participation.
In the absence of ‘state legitimacy’, in the eyes of citizens living in high-risk areas, initiatives that focus exclusively on state capacity-building run the risk of perpetuating malign power structures, which are overt drivers of violent extremist recruitment in Africa.
The research suggests that improved public policy and delivery of good governance by African governments confronted with violent extremism will ultimately represent a far more effective source of counter- terrorism and PVE than continued overconcentration on security-focused interventions.
The Journey to Extremism findings call for a reinvigoration of commitment by states to upgrading the quality and accountability of institutions across service-delivery areas, at the national and sub- national levels, above all in at-risk areas.
Deepening the democratic process and closely guarding its integrity, beyond the moment of elections, into a wider commitment to an inclusive social contract between government and citizens, as well as meaningful opportunities for civic engagement and participation in the national development agenda, are also highly relevant policy responses.