Conflict and Countering Violent Extremism: Case Studies


This paper is part of a research project on the relationship between Islamist violent extremism and conflict, addressing the research question: “what is distinctive about violent Islamist extremism in conflict situations, and what features does it share with other ideologies or movements involved in conflicts?” This paper considers the question in three country case studies: Kenya, Nigeria, and Syria/Iraq.

The method used in the analysis is comparative. We set out to compare Islamist and non-Islamist groups, focusing particularly on how they have influenced and been influenced by conflicts. In the case of Syria/Iraq, and at the request of DFID experts, we compared different Islamist groups, including Shia ones, rather than (as we originally proposed) comparing a secular and an Islamist group. This reflects the nature of the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars, as well as British governmental priorities. We also feel that this approach has been of analytical benefit, as it has demonstrated the differences among Islamist groups in conflict situations.

Each case study follows a similar structure to facilitate comparisons. It sets out the background to the conflict and the main groups involved in it, then examines the aims and objectives of the groups, the drivers and enablers for radicalisation and recruitment, how the groups have interacted with conflict, and implications for interventions. Conclusions summarise, amongst other points, what we believe makes IVE groups different from others in conflict situations. The report ends with a summary table setting out the characteristics of the groups we have considered.


Glazzard, A.; Jesperson, S.; Maguire, T. Conflict and Countering Violent Extremism: Case Studies. RUSI, London, UK (2015) 99 pp.

Conflict and Countering Violent Extremism: Case Studies

Published 1 January 2015