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The ‘War on Terror’ frame and Washington Post’s linking of the Sierra Leone Civil War to 9/11 and al-Qaeda: Implications for US foreign policy in Africa

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The Washington Post’s linking of the ‘blood diamond trade’ carried out by Sierra Leone’s rebel movement, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), to al-Qaeda published after the 9/11 terrorist attacks signalled a major shift in US foreign policy from that of withdrawal from to engagement in African crises, albeit because of geo-strategic national security interests rather than for global justice. Using quantitative content and critical discourse analyses, this article aims to demonstrate the resonance between this ‘War on Terror’ frame and the subsequent summoning of the author of the article, Douglas Farrah, to testify before Congress, and how this served as a wake-up call for the United States not to abandon Africa since its ‘ill-fated sortie’ in the wake of the failure of ‘Operation Restore Hope’ in Somalia in 1992. The article concludes with a brief critical reflection on the implications of this ‘War on Terror’ frame that contributed to a shift from withdrawal from to engagement with Africa for the mediation of conflict and global justice.

Keywords: Sierra Leone; United States; al-Qaeda; blood diamonds; terrorism; war; ‘War on Terror’ frame

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Northumbria University

Publication date: April 27, 2012

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  • The Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) is an interdisciplinary journal that provides a forum for debate on the historical and contemporary aspects of media and communication in Africa. 
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