USITF Event: Lunch with Virginia Comollo (IISS) at the National Press Club

Benjamin Hilgenstock

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Wednesday 16th of July, the US-Italy Global Affairs Forum hosted  Virginia Comolli , a senior researcher at the  International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) , for a lunch discussion at the National Press Club in downtown Washington DC. The discussion was attended by an array of fellow research analysts and fellows, government officers, and journalists and news correspondents. Having just come back from West Africa, Mrs. Comolli presented a captivating discussion based on her recent studies of the radical insurgent organization Boko Haram, based in South Sahel and Northern Nigeria. The group attracted prominent attention in international news recently with their kidnapping of over 250 girls in the Borno state of Nigeria.

[boko_haram] Mrs. Comolli was able to shed light on not only the technical character of the group, but also on the underlying and overlooked causes that have facilitated its continued growth and persistence. Focal points of the talk included the ideological and criminal dimensions of this radical militant group in the region, the factors that have contributed to its rise, and the response that international powers, particularly the United States and Europe, have had in countering the insurgency. Mrs. Comolli pointed out three factors in particular that have contributed to the radicalization in the region: the tendency for Western counter terrorism to ignore Africa, the centralization of violence and weapons in the region, and a pervasive climate of discontent among local populations, which has been taken advantage of byBoko Haram’s radical religious leaders seeking to recruit members. Mrs. Comolli will be covering these aspects of the Boko Haram insurgency and more in her upcoming book. This will be the second book in her substantial repertoire of publications, the first having been  Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition , coauthored with  Nigel Inkster .