How ‘foreign’ are foreign terrorist fighters in Africa?


A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work on a continent where ‘foreignness’ is hard to define.

In September 2018, five people acquitted of the July 2010 terror attacks in Kampala, Uganda, were re-arrested by the Ugandan Police. Omar Awadh Omar and four others were charged with possessing literature for the promotion of terrorism. These charges were later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions following deportation letters for three of the suspects to Kenya.

Omar contested the orders by the Ugandan authorities to deport him to Kenya on the grounds that although born to a Kenyan father, his nationality is Ugandan by right of birth, as his mother is Ugandan.

Omar, the four other suspects and the eight convicts of the July 2010 bombing in Kampala were trained al-Shabaab operatives and the group claimed responsibility for the attacks. This is one of several situations that raise the question of the applicability of the term ‘foreign terrorist fighter’.

These cases may not be unique to Africa and there are indeed Africans who have travelled to other parts of the world to fight battles. However, within Africa itself there is a need to reflect on a range of issues when considering foreign terrorist fighters. Learn more…

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