Gerard Emmanuel Kamdem Kamga

               21 July 2017



Looking at poverty and despair as parts of  the drivers of radicalisation.

The phenomenon of terrorism  can  sometimes be compared to a living organism, always changing, becoming more and more complex.  Questions have been raised as to know why and what exactly motivate people to succumb to the temptation of being radicalised and becoming perpetrators of terrorist activities. It is therefore important to pay close attention to the drivers of radicalisation. This Perspective focuses essentially on the  phenomenon of refugees to Europe who, left with no choice are becoming more and more vulnerable to the discourse of radicalisation. Refugees left their countries for the quest of a better life elsewhere. If their social and economic conditions are not improved, there are chances they might become easy prey for radicalisation. In this precise context, poverty and despair become the main drivers of radicalisation. This are not mere speculations. In 2002 Colin Powell the former Secretary of State of the United States emphasised the relations between  the root cause of terrorism  and situations of poverty, ignorance and  hopeless people.

With the rising issue of refugees in Europe who are left to themselves, the crisis of security may not be resolved soon. Gianni Tonelli, Secretary of the Italy's Independent Police Union recently observed that unemployed migrants are easily subject to radicalisation by extremism groups. According to him, the easy prey for Islamic radicalism are desperate men. Analysing the security situation from an Italian perspective, he draws a clear distinction between people who have succeeded and those who are yet to find their way. As he argues, the Islamic man who has arrived in Italy, who has been integrated, and has a job and has succeeded in guaranteeing a future for his children, is not easily influenced by Islamic radicalism. A contrario, the desperate man is willing to do all he can to redeem himself. For these men to be sacrificed for the 'Holy War' means social redemption and being respected.

It should be noted this crucial  assessment does not apply only to the Islamist context but can well find it way in any culture. Unemployment, illiteracy, injustice, discrimination, corruption are not foreign to the success of radicalisation of youth within the African context. Experiences showed that many Boko Haram members currently operating in western and central  African regions are young and prior to their enrolment, were illiterate, jobless and abandoned to themselves. Similar observation is applicable to Al Shahab members based in Eastern African region or to  those of Al Qaeda operating in Mali. The link between the lack of services delivery by states in Africa and some part of the world, a lack of responsible leadership and a poor governance system remain the fuel that sustain extremist organisations in their targeting of this forgotten portion of the population.

in 2007 Desmond Tutu the anti-apartheid icon observed that, you can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate.

Gerard Emmanuel Kamdem Kamga, LLD, Executive Director, GECI