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In light of the ongoing threats issued by Al Qaeda against the United States and its allies, the need to prevent the radicalization of young Muslim men and women remains as pressing as ever. Perhaps nowhere is this task more urgent than in the countries of West Africa. The global expanse of the ongoing war on terror places these territories in the frontline. With large Muslim populations that have hitherto remained mostly impervious to the advances of Islamism, the challenge now confronting the Nigerian government and the international community is ensuring that this remains the case. But in recent years, Islamist groups have been highly active in the region. The aim of this monograph is to assess the potential of Nigeria’s Sufi Brotherhoods to act, both individually and collectively, as a force for counter-radicalization, to prevent young people from joining Islamist groups.1

To achieve this goal, the monograph is divided into four main parts. The first considers U.S. strategic interests in Nigeria. It argues that most of these interests have some sort of security dimension relating to either oil, terrorism, the safety of shipping in the Gulf of Guinea, or the peace and stability of West Africa. In particular, it notes that as the region’s key actor, Nigeria can be a vector of either stability or volatility. As such, it is incumbent upon the United States to try to ensure that the country remains as stable as possible.

Section two then looks at the various groups and organizations involved. It opens with an overview of Sufism before moving on to trace the histories of the two main Brotherhoods in northern Nigeria, the Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya. This includes an explanation of the suspicion and hostility that exists between


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