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Nigeria: ISWA Abides


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June 1, 2018:

* In the northeast (Borno State) near Lake Chad the army launched a major operation in mid-May to find and eliminate Boko Haram forces near Lake Chad, an area where the Islamic terrorists are still very active. In the first few days of this operation several Boko Haram bases were found and fifteen Islamic terrorists were killed. Boko Haram prefers to flee these search operations, even if it means abandoning equipment and stocks of ammo and other supplies. There are believed to be about a thousand armed Boko Haram in the area being swept and the objective is to find and seize as much of these stockpiles as possible and keep Boko Haram forces on the run. These means that many of the Islamic terrorists will go hungry and will have to operate like bandits, stealing what they can to survive. This makes locals more willing to provide information to the troops and so it goes. This sweep operation will continue into June and probably into September. So far Boko Haram men who have been captured or surrendered indicate that these sweeps are a major problem for the Islamic terrorists. The problem is that Boko Haram is still there after several major operations to destroy them. Boko Haram has been much reduced but they survive, in part because the destruction of the economy in much of Borno (a decade of Islamic terrorist violence does that) and created a lot more unemployed young men who are willing to join an Islamic terror group that has some resources and enables members to “do something.” Many of these new recruits soon grow disillusioned and surrender or desert. This the army knows from interrogations of captured Boko Haram men and exploiting that weakness has become a key part of the counter-terrorism strategy.


Boko Haram persists in the northeast in part because one of the two rival factions has adopted more effective tactics. The Barnawi faction is recognized by ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and follows the current ISIL doctrine of concentrating attacks on security forces and government officials (preferably the corrupt ones). That makes it easier to extort (raise taxes) cash and other goods from the local population. The Barnawi faction has about 3,000 active gunmen and operates mainly in the far north of Borno state near Lake Chad. The smaller Shekau faction has about half as many armed men and operates further south near the Borno State capital of Maiduguri and the Sambisa Forest.

Money matters and one reason the Barnawi faction has been more successful is their emphasis on raising cash, especially via large ransoms for hostages, especially foreign hostages. There was never a specific demand made in public but the government paid for high value captives, like the May 2017 agreement that got 82 of the Chibok captives (from 2014) released in exchange for the freedom of eight Boko Haram leaders being held and awaiting prosecution for mass murder, terrorism and so on. Many Nigerians believed these men should have at least stood trial before being traded for hostages. As expected some of the freed Boko Haram leaders promptly went back to Islamic terrorism. At the same time Boko Haram had very visibly divided into factions. Back in March 2017 Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video to boast that he was still alive and operating in the northeast. At that point security forces had claimed Shekau was dead at least five times since 2011 but so far had always been wrong. In late 2016 there was hope that a recent split in Boko Haram might lead to Shekau getting killed by other Islamic terrorists but that hasn’t happened either and the two main factions appear to have achieved some kind of truce with each other and continue to operate.


The Boko Haram split began in August 2016 when ISIL announced that it was replacing Shekau, who was accused of mismanagement, with Abu Musab al Barnawi. ISIL believed Shekau devoted too much effort to killing fellow Moslems (especially civilians) rather than the real enemies of ISIL (local security forces and non-Moslems in general). ISIL leadership was also unhappy with the Boko Haram use of children and women as suicide bombers............(Snip)




* We've Seen This Movie Before

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