Can We Stop Violent Extremism from Going Mainstream in North Africa?
November 1, 2013
For most of the last decade, the fight against violent extremism in North Africa pitted the United States and its allies against bands of fighters holed up in the wilderness. While many Islamist groups shared the extremists’ goal of creating an Islamic state, most focused on social and political action to pursue their goals. Al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa took a different approach. They used violence to polarize societies and deepen the split between local populations on the one hand and the United States and allied governments on the other. Al Qaeda’s strategy produced spectacles of violence, yet it remains a fringe phenomenon that fails to inspire a critical mass.