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Unique look at rise of Islamist power in conflict zones earns Aisha Ahmad security article award

Professor Aisha Ahmad [Photo by Ken Jones]

Islamist groups operating within conflict zones like Somalia often rise to power and thrive because they are so adept at courting local business elites.

This unique perspective offered by U of T Scarborough Assistant Professor Aisha Ahmad has earned the political scientist the first ever Best Security Article Award from the International Security Studies Section (ISSS).  

“I’m incredibly honoured to be awarded this prestigious prize for my research on the rise of jihadist power in civil wars,” says Ahmad, an expert on civil war and political Islam. “Looking at the origins of these militant groups has helped me better understand these complex conflict environments, and explore creative new approaches to building peace.”

Ahmad received the award for her paper "The Security Bazaar: Business Interests and Islamist Power in Civil War Somalia," published in the Winter 2014/2015 edition of International Security.

The article received plaudits for its unique exploration of how Islamist groups are able to profit from offering business elites protection. Offering a micro-political economic theory and Somalia as a case example, Ahmad found that these groups are able to do this by appealing to a broader Islamic identity that transcends local ethnic conflicts. In return, her analysis shows that many in the business community may end preferring Islamist rule in some cases.

"I'm delighted that Aisha Ahmad's article has won the ISSS/ISA Best Security Article Award," says Sean Lynn-Jones, editor of International Security.

"She has written an outstanding analysis of how radical Islamist groups can win the support of the business community in war-torn countries. Her article richly deserves this recognition and attention."

Click here to read the full text of Ahmad’s article

© University of Toronto Scarborough