A vicious cycle
The growth of terrorism and counterterrorism in Nigeria, 1999–2016
in Non-Western responses to terrorism
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Violence in Nigeria has many forms – from crimes like kidnapping and robbery to political violence, including terrorism and insurgency, to police and military brutality. It's necessary to appreciate how each form relates to specific contextual conditions and to other forms of violence, which are often overlapping. Since Nigeria regained civilian rule in 1999, the term ‘terrorism’ is increasingly part of national discourse. The government refers to countering terrorism within the framework of its national security agenda, and insurgent movements have increasingly used terrorism within their violent campaigns. While terrorism in Nigeria has been growing, analysis tends to consider the phenomenon in isolation and ignore its connections to other forms of violence, and how state responses drive violent non-state groups to adopt new tactics and escalate conflict. To fill this gap, this chapter looks at how terrorism is understood and experienced in Nigeria, and how its conceptualization shapes the practice of counterterrorism. It traces how the conceptualization of terrorism and practice of counterterrorism have changed over time by analysing international and domestic factors – including the impact of 9/11 – and the societal impact of Nigeria's transformation from military to democratic rule, plus the recent insurgencies in the Niger Delta and the northeast.

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