The Spreading Menace of Boko HaramPosted: January 27, 2015
The jihadist group in Nigeria killed 11,245 people last year. Now their rampage seems ready to escalate in 2015
Emad Mostaque writes: The new year began with terror attacks in Paris inspired or orchestrated by al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and ISIS and then reports of up to 2,000 residents killed by Boko Haram in a days-long massacre in Baga, Nigeria. While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria. This weekend the group captured the town of Monguno and its military barracks while simultaneously attacking the state capital, Maiduguri.
“While Paris has grabbed the majority of media attention, the events in Baga may prove to be the most significant as Boko Haram expands in northeastern Nigeria.”
A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be “true” believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death. High-profile attacks aim to polarize societies and create animus against mainstream Muslims, creating more potential recruits for the radical Islamists.
A key goal of all terrorists is to provoke outsize reactions by committing heinous deeds. This is particularly true of jihadists, whose main feature is the takfir they impose on the majority of other Muslims—declaring them not to be ‘true’ believers and thus outside of their group and liable for death.”
ISIS has intensified its bloodletting over the last year, using social media to amplify its mass beheadings and other fearsome deeds—and thus the group’s power and threat—in line with the recommendations outlined in jihad theoretician Abu Bakr Naji ’s 2006 text “The Management of Savagery.” However, ISIS has reached the limits of unopposed and easy expansion in Iraq as it now faces well-armed forces in non-Sunni areas, bolstered by coalition airstrikes. ISIS gains in Syria continue, but the group appears more contained, having failed to take Kobani from its Kurdish defenders.
In contrast, the Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram seems bent on escalating the scale and terror of its violence in 2015—after killing an estimated 11,245 people last year, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. It also appears to be on the edge of a significant expansion into neighboring states.
Boko Haram’s initial strategy was to try to undermine and gain control of the Kanuri ethnic regions of northeast Nigeria while looking to polarize society by attacking states along the Christian-Muslim divide known as the Middle Belt region. The Nigerian government response to this push has been slow….(read more)
Mr. Mostaque is a London-based strategist specializing in the Middle East and Africa at Ecstrat, an emerging-markets consultancy.
- Up to 2,000 killed in Nigeria’s Baga: Amnesty International (theunhivedmind.com)
- Boko Haram attacks two cities in northern Nigeria (marketwatch.com)
- Nigerians face killings, hunger in Boko Haram’s ‘state’ (firstpost.com)
- How Obscurity Helps Boko Haram’s Reign of Terror (defenseone.com)
- Boko Haram seizes Nigerian army base – Africa (trendingnewsz.com)
- UN chief condemns civilian killings in Nigeria (gulfnews.com)
- Boko Haram violence surges ahead of Nigerian elections (euronews.com)