Mapping and Deterring Violent Extremist Networks in North-West Africa

Department of Border Region Studies Working Paper 4/15

36 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2015

See all articles by Olivier Walther

Olivier Walther

University of Florida; University of Southern Denmark

Christian Leuprecht

Royal Military College of Canada

Date Written: April 8, 2015

Abstract

This article examines the structural and spatial organization of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) across the Sahara. Building on the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED), a public collection of political violence data for developing states, the article investigates structural connections of VEOs and the effect of borders on the spatial patterns of armed groups. Social network analysis reveals that the network involving VEOs had a low density, a low level of transitivity, and contained few central actors, three typical characteristics of negative-tie networks. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is unquestionably the most connected VEO, which in purely network terms can be seen as a liability. Spatial analysis shows that, while violence was almost exclusively concentrated within Algeria between 1997 and 2004, cross-border movements intensified in the mid-2000s following the establishment of military bases by AQIM in Mali. As of late, VEOs have primarily concentrated their operations in Northern Mali as well as Southern Algeria, whereas Mauritania, Niger and Chad have been relatively unaffected. It follows that deterrence and containment strategies should be devised for regions rather than states. The findings have significant implications for multinational security and stability operations and the need to coordinate transnationally.

Keywords: violent extremist organizations, terrorism, borders, social networks, Africa, Sahel, Sahara

JEL Classification: N40, N47, D74

Suggested Citation

Walther, Olivier and Leuprecht, Christian, Mapping and Deterring Violent Extremist Networks in North-West Africa (April 8, 2015). Department of Border Region Studies Working Paper 4/15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2593020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2593020

Olivier Walther (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

425 Grinter Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611
United States

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

Christian Leuprecht

Royal Military College of Canada ( email )

Department of Political Science and Economics
P.O. Box 17,000, Station Forces
Kingston, ON K7K 7B4
Canada
6135416000 ext. 6428 (Phone)
6135416733 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.christianleuprecht.com/

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