This study was conducted by Search for Common Ground (Search) from September 2021 to May 2022 in partnership with the Sudanese National Commission for Counter Terrorism (SNCCT) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sudan. It follows previous Search-led research on violent extremism in Sudan which culminated in the report Among Friends and Family. It deepens the evidence on the drivers and root causes of violent extremism (VE) in Sudan to support the development of a comprehensive national strategy and action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) and resilience to radicalization programs for Sudanese prisons. The findings of this study are based on 115 interviews with diverse stakeholders from Gadarif, Jazeerah and Khartoum.
- The Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) is the most prominent and active violent extremist organization recruiting from and operating in Sudan.
- There are critical regional factors such as border security, proliferation of small arms and light weapons and a lack of regional cooperation that contribute to rising VE recruitment and activity within Sudan.
- Narratives that Islam is threatened by foreign governments and ideologies or that it is broken and needs to be fixed are key to the recruitment of Sudanese into VEOs. These narratives are disseminated online and through sympathetic religious institutions and schools which are frequently funded by donors in the Gulf States.
- There are critical regional factors such as border security, proliferation of small arms, crackdowns on VE groups in neighboring countries and a lack of regional cooperation that contribute to rising VE recruitment and activity within Sudan.
- Female research participants who joined VEOs were recruited by similar technical means as their male counterparts. But they were also attracted by a sense of freedom they felt adherence to traditional gender roles may provide.
- There are no apparent monetary incentives or motivations for Sudanese who have joined international VEOs. Most research participants came from families of relative wealth and privilege.
- The transitional government is in a sensitive position that risks fueling VE-propaganda and recruitment as it seeks to implement otherwise popular reforms.
- Sudanese prisons provide opportunities for VE recruiters. There are currently no programs in the prisons to specifically prevent the spread of VE ideologies. In some cases, imprisonment of VEO participants is believed to have led to more extreme VE ideation.
- Religious leaders, government officials and civil society see a clear role for themselves and their respective institutions in a comprehensive plan to prevent violent extremism.