Document Type

International Studies and Languages


This paper seeks to identify whether United States aid to Africa has impacted violent terrorist activity on the continent. The existing literature has produced a range of critiques. Many have voiced concern about foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) growing and blame ineffective efforts by the U.S. for this reality. Instances of African nations, in the face of persisting security challenges from FTOs, turning to political adversaries of the U.S. for assistance is evidence of this sentiment. Furthermore, terror attacks since the onset of the U.S. Global War on Terror (GWOT) have only remained higher than in the previous era. Others have noted the limited scope of U.S. operations on the continent and their inherently finite ability to produce a lasting change for the host nation’s security environment. This paper aims to add, not counter, the existing literature. By adjusting the lens through which U.S. military activity on the continent has been understood, it is possible to see how terrorism has reacted. A qualitative analysis of terrorism databases and publicly available data on U.S. troop presence was conducted. FTOs were found to have adjusted their attack strategies from high-volume attacks with low casualty rates to low-volume attacks with higher subsequent casualties. It was concluded that this shift in tactics results from pressure from US-led counterterrorism. FTOs have effectively been forced to place increased strategic value on each attack and seek to maximize the casualties inflicted. The implications of these findings offer a renewed view of US operations on the continent and suggest an impact has been made, even if not as palpable as traditional strategic victories.