Showing posts tagged as "boko haram"

Showing posts tagged boko haram

28 Jul
Africa’s jihadists, on their way
Boko Haram thrives on the weakness of governments in the region of Lake Chad
SQUINT a little and the region skirting Lake Chad in central Africa resembles Mosul and Tikrit in northern Iraq: dried-out canals, scrubby plains, ragtag bands of Islamists with guns beneath an unrelenting sun. Thanks to satellite television, the long-suffering residents around the lake, which abutted Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria until it began to dry up and shrink over the past few decades (see map), have a rough understanding of what has happened recently in Iraq. They can imagine only too well being overrun by insurgents. Many see parallels between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the savage group that has captured a string of Iraqi towns, and Boko Haram, the equally murderous Nigerian outfit that is striving to expand its base beyond its original area south-west of Lake Chad. The question everyone in the region is asking is whether the Nigerian bunch of beheaders can replicate the audacious territorial conquest of their Arab-led counterparts.
Strolling along what used to be the shoreline before it receded, Habib Yaba, a Chadian politician from Massakory, north-east of N’Djamena, the capital, points to a white pick-up truck of unknown provenance driving across the flat lake-bed from the west. The border there is unmarked. “Look how easy it is for anyone to roam around,” he says, and goes on to describe local Islamists as increasingly numerous, well-armed and ambitious. “They rely on religious as well as ethnic links that cross the lake. And they tap into the frustrations of our people.”
Gloomy youths standing in the shade of a nearby petrol station sound ambivalent towards Boko Haram. Most would rather have jobs than become religious marauders, but given the chance they may be tempted to join a group that is evidently successful. “Not many other winners here,” says one. Their parents, sitting in cement buildings littered across a treeless expanse, say they worry that their children will be receptive to recruitment drives by Boko Haram. They also report an increase in night-time traffic, which they blame on insurgent movements.
Regional governments are fully aware of the threat and have tried to counter it. Chad is sending ever more troops to the border. Checkpoints and military vehicles are visible on the roads outside N’Djamena, which is close to the lake. A sweating colonel wearing full battledress in the midday sun swears loudly while inspecting traffic near Bongor, a town close to the border with Cameroon, 200km (125 miles) south of N’Djamena.
Oil-rich Chad has one of the fiercest armies on the continent. It has deployed peacekeepers in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR). Earlier this year its air force took delivery of three MIG-29 jets from Ukraine, an unusually sophisticated weapon by the standards of the region. Chad also has a batch of Russian-supplied combat helicopters.
But neighbouring countries are quite a bit feebler. Nigeria’s armed forces are plagued with corruption; its rates of desertion are high. Niger is poor even by regional standards and militarily unable to cope. The weakest link in the region, however, is Cameroon.
Nigeria closed its border with it in February and has called its government negligent. Unlike Chad and Niger, it does not allow troops from neighbouring countries the right of hot pursuit across its border. That may be partly because Cameroon and Nigeria lack an agreed frontier due to a long-running territorial dispute; the UN’s attempt to mark the 2,100km boundary, which cuts across mountains and deserts, may be the biggest project of its kind in the world. In May Cameroon at last deployed a thousand troops to the border region. Within weeks they had killed 40 fighters apparently allied to Boko Haram in Kousseri, on the border with Chad. More firefights have since taken place.
In May regional heads of state met in France in an attempt to boost military and intelligence co-operation. They are backed by other Western powers. Yet old animosities, linguistic differences between Anglo- and Francophone troops, and rampant theft and incompetence mean this will have a limited effect. A glum Western diplomat says, “If the Iraqi army, aided by America and Iran, cannot stop marauding Islamists, then…”
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based lobby, warned in April about Boko Haram activity in “weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region.”
In May Boko Haram fighters attacked a camp of Chinese workers near Waza, in northern Cameroon, taking ten of them hostage. This was the group’s biggest operation across the border so far. Its fighters methodically cut off the electricity supply to the camp, then besieged it for five hours before overwhelming its armed guards. Sure enough, the Cameroonian cavalry failed to turn up.
FULL COMMENTARY (The Economist)
Photo: International Organization for Migration/flickr

Africa’s jihadists, on their way

Boko Haram thrives on the weakness of governments in the region of Lake Chad

SQUINT a little and the region skirting Lake Chad in central Africa resembles Mosul and Tikrit in northern Iraq: dried-out canals, scrubby plains, ragtag bands of Islamists with guns beneath an unrelenting sun. Thanks to satellite television, the long-suffering residents around the lake, which abutted Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria until it began to dry up and shrink over the past few decades (see map), have a rough understanding of what has happened recently in Iraq. They can imagine only too well being overrun by insurgents. Many see parallels between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the savage group that has captured a string of Iraqi towns, and Boko Haram, the equally murderous Nigerian outfit that is striving to expand its base beyond its original area south-west of Lake Chad. The question everyone in the region is asking is whether the Nigerian bunch of beheaders can replicate the audacious territorial conquest of their Arab-led counterparts.

Strolling along what used to be the shoreline before it receded, Habib Yaba, a Chadian politician from Massakory, north-east of N’Djamena, the capital, points to a white pick-up truck of unknown provenance driving across the flat lake-bed from the west. The border there is unmarked. “Look how easy it is for anyone to roam around,” he says, and goes on to describe local Islamists as increasingly numerous, well-armed and ambitious. “They rely on religious as well as ethnic links that cross the lake. And they tap into the frustrations of our people.”

Gloomy youths standing in the shade of a nearby petrol station sound ambivalent towards Boko Haram. Most would rather have jobs than become religious marauders, but given the chance they may be tempted to join a group that is evidently successful. “Not many other winners here,” says one. Their parents, sitting in cement buildings littered across a treeless expanse, say they worry that their children will be receptive to recruitment drives by Boko Haram. They also report an increase in night-time traffic, which they blame on insurgent movements.

Regional governments are fully aware of the threat and have tried to counter it. Chad is sending ever more troops to the border. Checkpoints and military vehicles are visible on the roads outside N’Djamena, which is close to the lake. A sweating colonel wearing full battledress in the midday sun swears loudly while inspecting traffic near Bongor, a town close to the border with Cameroon, 200km (125 miles) south of N’Djamena.

Oil-rich Chad has one of the fiercest armies on the continent. It has deployed peacekeepers in Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR). Earlier this year its air force took delivery of three MIG-29 jets from Ukraine, an unusually sophisticated weapon by the standards of the region. Chad also has a batch of Russian-supplied combat helicopters.

But neighbouring countries are quite a bit feebler. Nigeria’s armed forces are plagued with corruption; its rates of desertion are high. Niger is poor even by regional standards and militarily unable to cope. The weakest link in the region, however, is Cameroon.

Nigeria closed its border with it in February and has called its government negligent. Unlike Chad and Niger, it does not allow troops from neighbouring countries the right of hot pursuit across its border. That may be partly because Cameroon and Nigeria lack an agreed frontier due to a long-running territorial dispute; the UN’s attempt to mark the 2,100km boundary, which cuts across mountains and deserts, may be the biggest project of its kind in the world. In May Cameroon at last deployed a thousand troops to the border region. Within weeks they had killed 40 fighters apparently allied to Boko Haram in Kousseri, on the border with Chad. More firefights have since taken place.

In May regional heads of state met in France in an attempt to boost military and intelligence co-operation. They are backed by other Western powers. Yet old animosities, linguistic differences between Anglo- and Francophone troops, and rampant theft and incompetence mean this will have a limited effect. A glum Western diplomat says, “If the Iraqi army, aided by America and Iran, cannot stop marauding Islamists, then…”

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based lobby, warned in April about Boko Haram activity in “weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region.”

In May Boko Haram fighters attacked a camp of Chinese workers near Waza, in northern Cameroon, taking ten of them hostage. This was the group’s biggest operation across the border so far. Its fighters methodically cut off the electricity supply to the camp, then besieged it for five hours before overwhelming its armed guards. Sure enough, the Cameroonian cavalry failed to turn up.

FULL COMMENTARY (The Economist)

Photo: International Organization for Migration/flickr

16 Jul
Nigerian Troops Say Corruption Saps Will to Fight Islamists | Ibrahim Abdul’Aziz and Dulue Mbachu
When Islamist militants raided the northeastern Nigerian village of Izghe, killing 90 people, some government troops dropped their weapons, stripped off their uniforms and fled in civilian clothes, according to two soldiers who were at the scene.
The soldiers said the troops were angry their monthly pay had been cut in half to 15,000 naira ($92) without explanation, heightening their belief that money meant for them and their front-line fight against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram was being siphoned off by officials in Abuja, the capital.
“Somebody is sitting comfortably in Abuja stealing our money, and we are here facing Boko Haram fire every day,” Shu’aibu, a lance corporal, said in a June 11 interview in Yola, capital of Adamawa state. He spoke on the condition that his surname wasn’t published because he’s not authorized to comment.
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)
Photo: UNAMID/flickr

Nigerian Troops Say Corruption Saps Will to Fight Islamists | Ibrahim Abdul’Aziz and Dulue Mbachu

When Islamist militants raided the northeastern Nigerian village of Izghe, killing 90 people, some government troops dropped their weapons, stripped off their uniforms and fled in civilian clothes, according to two soldiers who were at the scene.

The soldiers said the troops were angry their monthly pay had been cut in half to 15,000 naira ($92) without explanation, heightening their belief that money meant for them and their front-line fight against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram was being siphoned off by officials in Abuja, the capital.

“Somebody is sitting comfortably in Abuja stealing our money, and we are here facing Boko Haram fire every day,” Shu’aibu, a lance corporal, said in a June 11 interview in Yola, capital of Adamawa state. He spoke on the condition that his surname wasn’t published because he’s not authorized to comment.

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)

Photo: UNAMID/flickr

27 Jun
Fear Grips Nigeria Capital After Attack in City Centre | AFP
Abuja:  A bombing blamed on Boko Haram in the heart of Nigeria’s capital raised fears on Thursday of a worsening Islamist insurgency, with the security forces struggling to prevent attacks in remote villages and near the seat of government.
Wednesday’s blast, which killed at least 21 people, shook the crowded Emab Plaza in downtown Abuja during the afternoon rush as shoppers were buying groceries an hour ahead of the country’s World Cup match against Argentina.
The explosions struck “a very prominent street and it sends a very loud message”, said Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group. “The message is that everywhere in the city is vulnerable.” cited as causes of the tragedy.
FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)
Photo: theglobalpanorama/flickr

Fear Grips Nigeria Capital After Attack in City Centre | AFP

Abuja:  A bombing blamed on Boko Haram in the heart of Nigeria’s capital raised fears on Thursday of a worsening Islamist insurgency, with the security forces struggling to prevent attacks in remote villages and near the seat of government.

Wednesday’s blast, which killed at least 21 people, shook the crowded Emab Plaza in downtown Abuja during the afternoon rush as shoppers were buying groceries an hour ahead of the country’s World Cup match against Argentina.

The explosions struck “a very prominent street and it sends a very loud message”, said Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group. “The message is that everywhere in the city is vulnerable.” cited as causes of the tragedy.

FULL ARTICLE (Agence France-Presse)

Photo: theglobalpanorama/flickr

30 May
Nigeria President Vows Full Scale Offensive Against Boko Haram | Philip J. Victor
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued strong words for the armed group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls last month, vowing on Thursday that the government would do everything possible to bring the girls home.
"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," he said, later adding that "the menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end."
Despite the declarations of strength, Jonathan’s speech was short on specifics. He failed to mention how his government would work to rescue the abducted girls. And he did not mention how the military plans to tackle Boko Haram, even as 35 people were reportedly killed Thursday in the northeastern state of Borno, which is seen as the heart of the five-year insurgency that has killed thousands, including over 2,000 so far this year. 
“It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok,” Jonathan said. “I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians, and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home.”
Some experts, however, say it’s not entirely clear what can be done. Jonathan’s speech, they say, was meant to simply assuage the public. 
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)
Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr

Nigeria President Vows Full Scale Offensive Against Boko Haram | Philip J. Victor

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued strong words for the armed group that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls last month, vowing on Thursday that the government would do everything possible to bring the girls home.

"I am determined to protect our democracy, our national unity and our political stability, by waging a total war against terrorism," he said, later adding that "the menace of Boko Haram will surely come to an end."

Despite the declarations of strength, Jonathan’s speech was short on specifics. He failed to mention how his government would work to rescue the abducted girls. And he did not mention how the military plans to tackle Boko Haram, even as 35 people were reportedly killed Thursday in the northeastern state of Borno, which is seen as the heart of the five-year insurgency that has killed thousands, including over 2,000 so far this year. 

“It is now 45 days since the horrifying abduction of the college girls of Chibok,” Jonathan said. “I share the deep pain and anxiety of their parents and guardians, and I assure them once again that government will continue to do everything possible to bring our daughters home.”

Some experts, however, say it’s not entirely clear what can be done. Jonathan’s speech, they say, was meant to simply assuage the public. 

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)

Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr

15 May
Nigeria’s insurgency has to be tackled at the roots | Comfort Ero
Comfort Ero is Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. The full version of this article can be read at Financial Times.
The kidnapping nearly a month ago of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state is not only a tragedy in itself but also a timely reminder of a growing threat.
Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the abductions, is in the fifth year of an insurgency that has cost at least 4,000 lives and displaced half a million people. About 1,500 have been killed this year alone; the group has also started popping up in neighbouring countries.
In the early days Boko Haram eschewed violence, and aimed to create a strict Islamic state in the north. After years of increasing hostility towards the government, the sect launched an armed insurgency in 2009. To begin with it targeted state security services to avenge, it said, the killings of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and other comrades in an uprising in December 2009. In parallel, the group has assassinated politicians whom it accused of corruption and bad governance.
FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)
Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr

Nigeria’s insurgency has to be tackled at the roots | Comfort Ero

Comfort Ero is Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director. The full version of this article can be read at Financial Times.

The kidnapping nearly a month ago of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state is not only a tragedy in itself but also a timely reminder of a growing threat.

Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the abductions, is in the fifth year of an insurgency that has cost at least 4,000 lives and displaced half a million people. About 1,500 have been killed this year alone; the group has also started popping up in neighbouring countries.

In the early days Boko Haram eschewed violence, and aimed to create a strict Islamic state in the north. After years of increasing hostility towards the government, the sect launched an armed insurgency in 2009. To begin with it targeted state security services to avenge, it said, the killings of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, and other comrades in an uprising in December 2009. In parallel, the group has assassinated politicians whom it accused of corruption and bad governance.

FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)

Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr

13 May
#BringBackOurGirls Wields Power, But for Good or Bad? | Lisa De Bode
A Nigerian lawyer with fewer than 1,000 followers on Twitter kickstarted #BringBackOurGirls, the social media campaign urging the safe return of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls. That one tweet has since morphed into a global rallying cry — unifying voices as diverse as the Washington elite, Nigerian activists and a girlfriend-beating celebrity.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama have called on the Nigerian government to bring the girls home. A few U.S. senators have, again, urged the U.S. government to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, and Nigerian activists decried the failure of their nation-state. The hashtag even found its way to the Twitter feed of singer Chris Brown, who was found guilty of assaulting his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna.
At best, these individuals and groups are taking ownership of the well-being of the missing girls, whose fates now lie in the hands of violent rebel group Boko Haram. At worst, experts say, they may be bolstering political motives — and advocating for a military intervention — that would exacerbate the situation that led to the crisis in the first place.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)
Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr

#BringBackOurGirls Wields Power, But for Good or Bad? | Lisa De Bode

A Nigerian lawyer with fewer than 1,000 followers on Twitter kickstarted #BringBackOurGirls, the social media campaign urging the safe return of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls. That one tweet has since morphed into a global rallying cry — unifying voices as diverse as the Washington elite, Nigerian activists and a girlfriend-beating celebrity.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama have called on the Nigerian government to bring the girls home. A few U.S. senators have, again, urged the U.S. government to pass the International Violence Against Women Act, and Nigerian activists decried the failure of their nation-state. The hashtag even found its way to the Twitter feed of singer Chris Brown, who was found guilty of assaulting his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna.

At best, these individuals and groups are taking ownership of the well-being of the missing girls, whose fates now lie in the hands of violent rebel group Boko Haram. At worst, experts say, they may be bolstering political motives — and advocating for a military intervention — that would exacerbate the situation that led to the crisis in the first place.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Jazeera)

Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr

12 May
Boko Haram’s Bin Laden Connection | Eli Lake
Some intelligence analysts believe that Osama bin Laden provided everything from seed money to strategic direction to the now-infamous Nigerian terror group.
In 2002, Osama bin Laden dispatched an aide to Nigeria to hand out $3 million in local currency to a wide array of Salafist political organizations there that shared al Qaeda’s goal of imposing Islamic rule.
According to an overlooked report from a well-respected international watchdog, one of those organizations was Boko Haram, the terrorist outfit that’s become globally infamous for its threat to sell girls into slavery. In other words, bin Laden helped provide Boko Haram’s seed money, this report maintains.
Officially, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that the group has only tangential links to al Qaeda’s north African affiliate, and that reports of bin Laden backing the Nigerian outfit are off-base. But inside the secret state, many analysts believe that the ties between Boko Haram and al Qaeda global leadership go much deeper—and are about more than a little seed money.
FULL ARTICLE (The Daily Beast)
Photo: ManilaRyce/flickr

Boko Haram’s Bin Laden Connection | Eli Lake

Some intelligence analysts believe that Osama bin Laden provided everything from seed money to strategic direction to the now-infamous Nigerian terror group.

In 2002, Osama bin Laden dispatched an aide to Nigeria to hand out $3 million in local currency to a wide array of Salafist political organizations there that shared al Qaeda’s goal of imposing Islamic rule.

According to an overlooked report from a well-respected international watchdog, one of those organizations was Boko Haram, the terrorist outfit that’s become globally infamous for its threat to sell girls into slavery. In other words, bin Laden helped provide Boko Haram’s seed money, this report maintains.

Officially, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that the group has only tangential links to al Qaeda’s north African affiliate, and that reports of bin Laden backing the Nigerian outfit are off-base. But inside the secret state, many analysts believe that the ties between Boko Haram and al Qaeda global leadership go much deeper—and are about more than a little seed money.

FULL ARTICLE (The Daily Beast)

Photo: ManilaRyce/flickr

7 May

Africa director Comfort Ero appeared on MSNBC last night to discuss Nigeria, Boko Haram and the hundreds of abducted schoolgirls.

6 May
Catch Africa director Comfort Ero on NBC Nightly News tonight with the latest on Boko Haram and the hundreds of missing Nigerian girls. Read more about Boko Haram with our latest report.

Catch Africa director Comfort Ero on NBC Nightly News tonight with the latest on Boko Haram and the hundreds of missing Nigerian girls. Read more about Boko Haram with our latest report.

16 Apr
LINK

Bombing and mass kidnapping in Nigeria | WBEZ-Chicago

Reportedly, hundreds of girls in northeast Nigeria were kidnapped from school by the Islamist group Boko Haram. The kidnapping follows a promise from Boko Haram’s leader that he would attack schools and take girls. Among its demands, the group wants a stricter form of Sharia law and the Nigerian government’s downfall. Last month, because of these attacks, Nigeria’s Borno state closed its schools and sent tens of thousands of children home. Boko Haram is blamed for other deadly attacks on schools in the area and numerous bombings, including one in the capital of Abuja earlier this week that killed at least 70 people. Crisis Group’s Africa Director, Comfort Ero, provided WBEZ-Chicago with some context behind the attacks.