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Jihadist groups in Africa may pose new threat

A Binghamton University scholar recently testified before Congress regarding Muslim extremist groups in northern Africa.

Ricardo René Larémont, a professor of political science and sociology, discussed the potential threat posed by groups called Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabab.

“What I told the committee is that military options are not necessarily the most important,” Larémont said. “When you look at northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is trying to grow, you have a society in which about 20-25 percent of the women are educated. You have high levels of fertility among women. And when you combine high fertility with low literacy, you have a recipe for social, economic and political disaster. Also, you do not have a U.S. diplomatic or developmental presence on the ground whatsoever, so you do not have any idea about what is going on.”

When Larémont was invited to testify, he was on his way to a conference in Malta organized by the European Union. He had about a week to prepare his Nov. 30 remarks for the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. The subcommittee works to ascertain present and future trends that may affect the security of the United States.

“Frankly, I was like a child in a candy store,” said Larémont, who had never testified before Congress. “I was simply amazed by the grandeur of the place. … It’s just physically impressive.”

Larémont, a Carnegie Corporation Scholar on Islam who travels the world for his research, said he found the members of the subcommittee quite knowledgeable. “They were prepared,” he said. “The chair of the committee is a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Congressman Patrick Meehan. The ranking Democratic member is Congresswoman Jackie Speier from California. They were both very well informed.”

He was given just five minutes to read his remarks before members of the subcommittee posed questions.

Essentially, he said, the U.S. concern is that Islamist extremists are gathering strength in the Sahel, a region between the Sahara and tropical Africa. The committee wanted to understand the degree to which these groups are “aspirational” vs. “operational” in nature.

Larémont, who has written extensively about Islam, conflict resolution and democratization in Africa, offered a brief history of three jihadist groups and his views on their possible plans in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings. He expects that Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabab will attempt to expand their operations now that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime no longer exists. Larémont said that even though Qaddafi was unpredictable in many ways, he played an important role in stabilizing the countries of the Sahel. The security vacuum created by Qaddafi’s ouster may offer an opportunity for jihadist groups to work together to destabilize several states in West Africa, Larémont told the subcommittee.

“The U.S. budget is essentially broken, so we obviously have to take care of this home front,” he said afterward. “But even while we focus on this home front, we have to realize that there are things happening overseas that may affect our security. The urgent task is to remain focused on threats developing overseas while at the same time finding a way to jump start this economy. Until that’s done, we won’t get security here or security overseas.”

4 Responses to “Jihadist groups in Africa may pose new threat”

  1. don franck says:

    Having read the Koran I came away with conclusions based on that and other reading and also talking to Moslems.

    In summary I concluded that Islam is not a religion, it is a way of life and an invention by Mohammed and his clerical followers to control people and perpetuate their power.

    1. Mohammed and his clerical followers created the Koran simply for personal power to control people and further their own power. For instance, every other power center, versus Islam’s clerical power, has been removed by the Koran,. ie, No bank interest, subjugated women, no alcahol, praying 5 times a day, justification for the elimination of competing religions,and the use of Sharia law to control people..

    2. Mohammed was personally a violent and paranoiac individual with little if any moral scruples.

    3. Islam under the clerical fanatics had expanded all the way from the Middle east to Spain and into France until in 714 Charles Martel threw them back. They were also beaten at the sea battle of Lepanto in about the 1400’s. They expanded into the Balkans until confronted by the Christians. In short they have a kinder appearance while they consolidate power and justify violent takeover afterward. Their intention is to convert the world to Islam run by unelected Clerics who use Sharia Law to control people. Sharia law is the antithesis of Democracy and Western Culture.

    4. Islam is a danger to world harmony and particularly Democracy.


  2. Nicholas G Lawless says:

    It’s great to see one of our own professors, Dr. Laremont, performing in such a role, and it goes to show us all the caliber of the professors we have here at Binghamton University. I have learned a lot from Professor Laremont, and I am glad (and thankful) to say that I will be doing an independent study under his direct supervision during my last semester here at Binghamton. His work has always related 100% to the areas I have been interested in during my political science studies, and that has helped me enjoy my time and studies at BU ten times more. I believe, because of Professor Laremont, I will now pursue attending graduate school so that I can one day be an expert like he is! Thanks Dr. Laremont!

  3. Nicholas G Lawless says:

    In response to Don Franck’s posting, I find his (opinions) conclusions a little absurd and unfounded. It is rather unfortunate to read such words considering the violent histories of both Christianity and Islam. Once again, he may be referring to Islamist Extremists, but to say this of Islam in general and as a whole is upsetting – because if we look at Christian acts of extremism (which we never do) we could come to the same (although uneducated) conclusions about Christianity. I would argue that Muslims are great and intelligent people, and that followers of the Quran do not deserve such remarks left by Mr. Franck above.

  4. Muwaffaq Huniti says:

    In response to Don Franck’s response. Obviously Don’s knowledge of Islam and the prophet (peace be upon him) is very very incorrect.
    I ask that you get to know Prophet Muhammed before you decide
    and check out this link for info about the prophet (peace be upon him)

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