Deutsche Welle reporters on a special assignment have interviewed victims and ex-members of terror groups, former profiteers - and people who are trying to stop the violence.
Al-Shabab - which means 'the youth' in Arabic - is an al-Qaida-linked terror group with an estimated strength of between 7,000 and 10,000 fighters. It is fighting the Somalian government with the aim of establishing Islamic rule in the country and has been blamed for numerous kidnappings and killings. Al-Shabab's targets include politicians and journalists. It launches attacks not only in Somalia but also in neighboring Uganda and Kenya, both of which have troops stationed with the AMISOM force that is seeking to shore up the Somalian government. In Mogadishu, our reporters spoke to a former fighter who confirmed what many fear. Africa's militants groups are networking among themselves as they go about their lethal business.
The Islamist militant sect Boko Haram has been spreading terror in northeastern Nigeria for years. It is fighting to prevent the spread of Western culture and values and its goal is the enforcement of Sharia law across the whole of Nigeria. Boko Haram terrorists now control whole towns and villages and the Nigerian armed forces appear unable to stop them. Our reporters spoke to young men who joined a citizens' militia in order to defend their town against Boko Haram.
Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army has been perpetrating atrocities among the civilian population of Central Africa for three decades. The LRA may claim to have received divine inspiration but its interests are largely restricted to this world, namely in acquiring power and control over mining operations. Rebel groups such as the LRA earn millions by selling gold to European businessmen. Our reporters spoke to an insider who reveals the murky details of a clandestine and corrupt trade.
Tuareg separatist rebels overran swathes of northern Mali in March 2012. They were supported in their conquests by the Islamist group Ansar Dine. The radical interpretation of Islam this group wishes to impose on the Malian population differs widely from local religious traditions. Driven by hate, the Islamists destroyed priceless cultural artifacts. They burned down libraries filled with ancient manuscripts. But the damage could have been far greater if courageous residents of Timbuktu and Gao had not thwarted some of the terrorists' plans. Our reporters have been talking to them.