I began as an International Relations major at the University of Johannesburg, when the Islamic State’s rise to prominence during my undergraduate studies compelled me to undertake online courses on Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice from Leiden University and another in Understanding Terrorism and the Terrorism Threat from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). These courses laid a solid foundation for my interest in (counter-)terrorism research which I undertook in my postgraduate studies with two dissertations titled: Measuring the Success of ISIS-Findings on the Strategic and Tactical Outcomes of the Uses of Terrorism and Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda-Exploring the Tactical Utility of Terror Affiliations in Africa, both of which marked the beginning of my research trajectory into an under researched field in (Southern) Africa.
As I further my studies as a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, my research focuses on the impact of international terrorist organisations on their affiliates in Africa. In doing so, my study examines Al-Qaeda’s relationship with its oldest and most powerful affiliate, Al-Shabaab, using social/dynamic network methods and analysis spanning major themes such as foreign fighters, network franchising and organisational cooperation. The study holds significance in terms of highlighting the role the African continent plays in the endurance of the global jihadi movement and its chief instigators, as well as the understanding that Africa’s terrorist organisations are a manifestation of factors much broader than what exists in their local environment.