Al Shabab and Kenya: the role of space and place in shaping manifestations of terrorism

Ms Linet  Muthoni1
1Griffith University School Of Criminology And Criminal Justice  , Bowen Hills , Australia

Terrorism studies have not been sufficiently sensitive to the unique role of geography and local dynamics in shaping manifestations of terrorism at the meso level within countries. The focus has mainly been on individuals, groups and country level explanations of terrorism, implicitly assuming that country-level analyses are generalizable across different regions within countries. This article adopts a spatial criminology perspective in analyzing the spaces within which terrorist activities occur by considering cross-border movement, recruitment, and attacks, by Al Qaeda’s East Africa affiliate, Al Shabaab in Wajir and Kwale, towns located in the north-eastern and coastal regions of Kenya respectively. The diffusion of violent extremist ideology and activities over physical and virtual spaces as illustrated by ISIS in the recent past, inform the need to develop a framework to analyze perspectives of terrorism at the meso and micro levels. Additionally, understanding the influence these spaces have on the nature of terrorist activities is important in developing resilience strategies for the spaces and the communities within them


Linet Muthoni is a Ph.D. candidate at Griffith University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She has research interest in manifestations of violent crimes in developing countries as well as terrorism. Before enrolling at Griffith University, she taught Public International Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution at the Faculty of Law in Strathmore University in Kenya. Prior to that, she studied law at the University of Kent, Canterbury and the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Linet also worked as a defense legal investigator in the matter of the Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta before the International Criminal Court.


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