Ousmane Aly is a PhD student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University. His doctoral thesis is on the regional response to the Mali conflict and the Islamist insurgency in the Sahel. This research interest was fueled by his previous experiences working as a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) at Nairobi and Dakar, and as a Protection Associate at the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
These experiences have made him appreciate the related nature of political governance, marginalization and violent extremism. Although Mali and Kenya are very different countries, with sensible variation in their capacities, they are both trying to overcome insurgency by violent Islamist extremists. A divided societal context and a feeling of estrangement towards the state are common features of Islamist radicalism and violent extremism in Mali and Kenya. His research interest focuses on West Africa, and how regional organizations are trying to counter and reverse this phenomenon.