Recommended Readings

As a self-taught scholar in the field of (counter-)terrorism (research), I’ve decided to put together a list of books and research publications I thought would be a useful resource for (upcoming) scholars researching terrorism in Africa and in search of literary guidance, theoretical or methodological reinforcement. This is in no way an attempt to offer an exhaustive list of important readings, but to merely offer a selection of books and research reports I’ve personally found highly useful in my own research.

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise indicated (*), I am in no way affiliated with the authors and publishers mentioned below. My recommendations are in no way an indication of my endorsement of the arguments and views expressed in the texts.

Prescribed Books

(Ed.) Schmid, P. A. 2011. The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research. New York: Routledge

(Ed.) Jackson, R., Smyth, B. M. & Gunning, J. 2009. Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda. New York: Routledge.

LaFree, G. & Freilich, D. J. 2017. The Handbook of the Criminology of Terrorism. Chichester: Wiley & Sons.

Creswell, J. W. 2014. Research Design: Qualitative/Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. California: Sage.

Laqueur, W. 1977. A History of Terrorism. New York: Little, Brown and New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.


Congressional Research Service. 2016. Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa. Washington D.C: Congressional Research Service.

De Albuquerque, L. A. 2017. Terrorism in Africa: A Quantitative Analysis. Stockholm: Swedish Defense Research Agency.

Gunaratna, R. 2002. Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. London: Hurst and Company.

Hellmich, C. 2011. Al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise. London and New York: Zed Books.

Ostebo, T. 2012. Islamic Militancy in Africa. Dakar, Addis Ababa, & Washington D.C: Africa Security Brief.

Bevy, J. L. 2006. Al-Qaeda: An Organisation to be Reckoned With. New York: Nova Science Pub Inc.

Chaliand, G & Blin, A. 2007. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al-Qaeda. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press.

Elu, J & Price, G. 2015. The Causes and Consequences of Terrorism in Africa. In The Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics Volume 1: Context and Concepts by Monga, C. & Lin, Y. J. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Joscelyn, T. 2013. Global Al-Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives and Future Challenges. Washington D.C: Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Mendelsohn, B. 2016. The Al-Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of Al-Qaeda and its Consequences. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sageman, M. 2008. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

East Africa

Anzalone, C. 2017. Al-Shabab in Somalia: The Resilience of al-Qaeda’s East African Affiliate. In How Al-Qaeda Survived Drones, Uprisings and the Islamic State, edited by Zelin, Y. A. Washington DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Hansen, J. S. 2013. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group. London: C. Hurst & Co. Publishers.

Hoffman, T. 2014. Al-Qaeda Declares War: The African Embassy Bombings and America’s Search for Justice. New Hampshire: University Press of New England.

Jones, G. S., Liepman, M. A. & Chandler, N. 2016. Counterterrorism and
Counterinsurgency in Somalia: Assessing the Campaign Against Al-Shabaab
California: RAND Corporation.

Lahoud, N. 2012. The Merger of Al-Shabab and Qa`idat al-Jihad. New York:
Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Pirio, A. P. 2007. The African Jihad: Bin Laden’s Quest for Horn of Africa. Eritrea: The Red Sea Press Inc.

Watts, C., Shapiro, J. & Brown, V. 2007. Al-Qa’ida’s (Mis)Adventures in the Horn of Africa. New York: Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Rabasa, A. 2009. Radical Islam in East Africa. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Woldemariam, M. 2018. Insurgent Fragmentation in the Horn of Africa. Port Melbourne & New York: Cambridge University Press.

Botha, A. 2014. Radicalisation in Kenya: Recruitment to Al-Shabaab and the
Mombasa Republican Council.
Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies.

Bryden, M & Bahra, P. 2019. East Africa’s Terrorist Triple Helix: The Dusit Hotel Attack and the Historical Evolution of the Jihadi Threat. New York: Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Intergovernmental Authority on Development. 2016. Al-Shabaab as a Transnational Security Threat. Djibouti: IGAD.

Maruf, H. & Joseph, D. 2018. Inside Al-Shabaab: The Secret History of Al-Qaeda’s Most Powerful Ally. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Mbugua, K. J. 2013. Drivers of Insecurity in Somalia: Mapping Contours of Violence. Nairobi: The International Peace Support Training Center.

Taarnby, M. & Hallundbaek, L. 2010. Al-Shabaab: The Internationalization of Militant Islamism in Somalia and the Implications for Radicalization Processes in Europe. Denmark: The Danish Ministry of Justice.

North Africa

Gartenstein-Ross, D., Moreng, B., & Soucy, K. 2014. Raising the Stakes: Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s Shift to Jihad. The Hague: The International Centre for Counter Terrorism.

Zelin. A. 2020. Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad. New York: Columbia University Press.

The Soufan Group. 2016. Libya, Extremism and the Consequences of Collapse. New York: The Soufan Group.

West Africa

Zenn, J. 2020. Unmasking Boko Haram: Exploring Global Jihad in Nigeria. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Forest, F. J. Confronting the Terrorism of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Florida: The Joint Special Operations University Press.

International Crisis Group. 2014 & 2015. Curbing Violence in Nigeria II & III: The Boko Haram Insurgency. Brussels: International Crisis Group.

Zenn, J., Kassim, A., Pearson, E., Barkindo, A., Hassan, I., Pieri, Z. & Mahmoud, O. 2018. Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency. New York: Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Matfess, H. (Ed.). 2017. Women and the war on Boko Haram: Wives, Weapons, Witnesses. Illinois: University of Chicago Press.


Harmon, A. S. 2014. Terror and Insurgency in the Sahara-Sahel Region: Corruption, Contraband, Jihad and the Mali War of 2012-2013. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

International Crisis Group. 2015. The Central Sahel: A Perfect Storm. Brussels: International Crisis Group.


Research Centers

The African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT)


The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START): Global Terrorism Database (GTD)

Primary Sources



Generation Jihad


Talking Terror