New Evidence: Religion and Ideology Are Not the Leading Drivers of Radicalisation in Somalia

Economics and deprivation were as important, if not more so, than religious factors in explaining why Somalis joined al-Shabaab. This is one of the main findings of a new study released on 26 September, 2014 that provides empirical data on radicalisation in Somalia.

 

Credit: FCA/Jama Egal

Finn Church Aid (FCA) in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conducted the study among 88 former al-Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu in April 2014. Researchers examined the vulnerability of young people to being recruited by al-Shabaab, the radicalisation process, and fighters’ perceptions of government, religious identity and external roleplayers. It is the second in a two-part analysis that began with research into radicalisation in Kenya .

‘The study comes at a time when the entire globe is looking for strategies to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups’, said FCA Executive Director Antti Pentikäinen. ‘We are convening religious leaders from 10 countries to share their experiences of responding to these threats as well as providing a platform to engage US policymakers.’

‘In the end it is up to these communities to determine their future. That is why their voices must be heard and their own responses supported,’ Pentikänen said.

The need for tailored strategies is at the heart of the Somalia study. ‘To effectively counter radicalisation, we need to know why people join terror groups’, said Mahdi Abdile, Deputy Regional Representative for East and Southern Africa at FCA, and co-author of the study.

‘There’s no shortage of information on the causes of terrorism, but we need to hear from the individuals concerned because each context in which radicalisation happens is different.’

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The study is available as PDF.