It has been ten years since protests in which demonstrators called for dignity and civil rights spread across North Africa. The political landscape there remains diverse, ranging from a constitutional monarchy (Morocco) to ailing army rule (Algeria) to challenged democracy (Tunisia) to civil institutions alongside militia rule (Libya) and an authoritarian, aspiring dictatorship (Egypt).
From a Western perspective, two security policy concerns dominate foreign strategy deliberations about the North Africa region: first, there is the continuous apprehension about migration via these countries into Europe, which is seen by some as too burdensome for European societies and economies. Second, there is the fear of security threats, such as terrorism, spilling over into Europe or endangering foreigners in North Africa. For example, an Islamic State gunman launched an attack in the Tunisian holiday town of Sousse in 2015 and killed 38 people, 30 of them British citizens.
Naturally, these two policy areas have some overlap. For instance, the threat of insecurity from terrorism, inter alia, can motivate people to migrate. Likewise, the financial and/or military support of local armed groups that promise to curb migration to Europe can end up financing terrorism if the “wrong” armed groups are provided with support.
The purpose of this report is to summarise and synthesise the counterterrorism (CT) policies and practices of North African countries in order to provide an overview of the eclectic handling of counterterrorism efforts. In this report, the term “counterterrorism” will cover various aspects, from military responses to attempts at prevention as well as deradicalisation. Traditionally, the literature discussing counterterrorism clusters around two models: a military (or war) model and a criminal justice model.