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Hostage to violent extremism: kidnapping in northern Benin

This report identifies four types of kidnapping closely linked to conflict dynamics and violent extremist group expansion.

As the infiltration of communities in northern Benin by violent extremist organisations (VEOs) has intensified since 2021, the number of kidnapping incidents has surged. This research identifies four main types of kidnapping by VEOs – forced recruitment, intelligence gathering, punishment and intimidation – all of which are closely linked to conflict dynamics and group expansion. Kidnapping is used as a strategic tool for infiltration into new territories.

About the authors

Flore Berger is the Sahel senior analyst in the Observatory of Illicit Economies in West Africa at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) with a focus on armed groups’ involvement in illicit economies and links between organised crime and instability.

Lyes Tagziria is a senior analyst at the GI-TOC. He has researched a wide range of illicit economies globally, currently focuses on West Africa, and was previously a senior member of the GI-TOC’s Organized Crime Index team.

Aziz Mossi is a researcher at the Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Développement Local, based in Benin.

Development partners
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office under the OCWAR-T project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Foreign Office. The ISS is also grateful for support from the members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the European Union, the Open Society Foundations and the governments of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
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