Click the link below for an excellent interactive map and timeline/summaries (produced by Al-Jazeera) of Boko Haram attacks going back to 2009 when President Yar’Adua was still in power. http://webapps.aljazeera.net/aje/custom/2014/bokoharamtimeline/index.html
The above is a podcast interview about Boko Haram’s use of female suicide bombers. Boko Haram has carried out nearly a dozen suicide bombings since 2009, but its use of women as suicide bombers is a new tactic.
Contrary to popular perception, Boko Haram’s cadre includes educated people with degrees in sciences such as chemistry.
Meanwhile nearly 1,000 who fled Boko Haram in Nigeria have arrived in the uninhabited Chadian island of Choua (see images of the refugees above):
Audio interview with journalist Alex Perry who was researched and written about Boko Haram for a long time. Perry alleges that there is no coherent plan to Boko Haram’s attacks, and that it is just violence for the sake of it.
Perry saw a gruesome video of Boko Haram members beheading a hostage and gives his analysis of the groups’s actions.
Good reports on how Boko Haram has infiltrated into Nigeria’s neighbour Cameroon. Boko Haram allegedly take advantage of the huge border between Nigeria and Cameroon to go backwards and forwards between both countries to recruit members and stage attacks.
Locals in Cameroon claim that Boko Haram members quickly bury their dead who are killed in attacks to prevent them from being identified.
One of the most tragic ironies is that thousands of Nigerians have fled from Nigeria into its poorer, smaller, less resourced neighbour Cameroon.
CBS television interview with a Boko Haram member in Abuja who called himself “Saleh Abubakar”. He claims the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls “willingly” converted to Islam, and that more schoolgirls will be abducted.
Survivors of Boko Haram attacks give terrifying testimony of their ordeal. One of them is Adamu Habila, who survived a Boko Haram attack and being shot in the head. Adamu was shot for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
The second survivor is 15 year old Deborah Peter from Chibok. She survived a Boko Haram attack on her home in Chibok. Her father (a pastor) and brother were attacked in front of her in her home.
The Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction and forced conversions to Islam are not new. Boko Haram has been kidnapping young women and girls as “slave brides” for some time and forcing them to convert to Islam. Thus the “conversion video” that Boko Haram released last week should be seen as part of its normal modus operandi rather than a new tactic.
It seems that the public and media missed critical clues in the evolution of Boko Haram. People seem to think the 2009 clashes between Boko Haram and security forces were the start of the group’s campaign of violence.
However there were clues about the group’s increasing radicalization as far back as 10-12 years ago. In early 2003 a group that advocated implementing a purer form of Sharia law embarked upon a Hijra (migration) away from secular society which they regarded as corrupt, to a remote village in northern Yobe State near Nigeria’s border with Niger. Its members were described as “mostly urban, comparatively well off Nigerians who had moved to a commune-like village to set up their own isolated society”. Locals nicknamed the group the “Taliban”. Until the “Boko Haram” moniker became part of popular discourse in 2009, the group was known as the “Taliban” for about 5 years.
WHO WERE THE “NIGERIAN TALIBAN”?
According to Shehu Sani (who has met Boko Haram members) the “Taliban” group was led by an associate of Mohammed Yusuf called Mohammed Alli. Alli led the Taliban’s migration to a village close to Kannamma in Yobe State. The Taliban were largely peaceful and devoted themselves to their own interpretation of Islam and isolated themselves from the rest of secular society. Its members included “individuals from wealthy Islamic families in Borno State, unemployed university students and friends and colleagues from other states including Ogun and Lagos”. The Governor of Yobe State Bukar Abba Ibrahim denied allegations that his son was a member.
Although the Taliban were not violent, a Professor at the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, Abdulmumin Sa’ad, said that the group was on an “idealistic outing in Yobe State,” but that it and other groups could easily become violent and adopt extremist ideology or foreign ties. The Professor and his colleagues noted an increase in religiously inspired sects on Nigerian university campuses. Professor Sa’ad also said that radical Islamist groups were also emerging from unemployed academics looking to make sense of their corrupt society. With Nigeria becoming more corrupt and economically polarised, “radical groups will likely emerge and youth may look to Islamic extremism to strike back at economic and political injustice.” Chillingly, a U.S. diplomatic cable in February 2004 warned that “A small sect could easily turn to terrorism, or be used as a tool by international terrorist groups.”
After living peacefully with their neighbours in 2003, conflict arose after the Taliban got into a dispute with locals about fishing rights. Local leaders asked the Taliban to leave and in December 2003, the police destroyed the Taliban’s camp and arrested several of its members. This interaction with the police marked the first step in the weaponisation of the group that eventually metamophorsised into Boko Haram.
THE SLIDE INTO VIOLENCE
The Taliban retaliated by attacking the police station in Kannamma and taking several guns and ammunition from the station. They attacked other police stations in Yobe State before finally being suppressed in the Yobe State capital Damaturu. It is important to note that at this stage, the Taliban’s violence was directed almost entirely at the police and they had little interest in conflict with civilians. One Taliban member called Ismael Abdu Afatahi (a 21-year-old student from Lagos who joined the group) said: “I don’t know the major reason why we attacked the police posts. Maybe it is because the police is the protector of the people in Nigeria – But I was not told actually”.
In early 2004 the Taliban took their weapons into Borno State and also battled the police there. Press reports mentioned that scores of men wearing “red bandanas”, carrying a flag with an Islamic inscription, and chanting “Allahu Akbar!” attacked police stations in Bama and Gworza in Borno State. During their raids they also kidnapped some locals who they tried to conscript and forced to dig trenches around their camp. According to Shehu Sani, the Taliban who survived these clashes then joined Mohammed Yusuf’s movement. The movement that eventually became Boko Haram…
Article on the BBC about how the state of emergency in Nigeria has led to a TRIPLING of civilian deaths by Boko Haram attacks rather than reducing those attacks. It seems the state of emergency has made Boko Haram even more violent.
There is an utterly pathetic quote in there by a UK military officer who recounts a Nigerian officer asking him whether the British government could sell Nigeria a machine which could automatically identify whether a car contains a terrorist.
“I was asked by a senior commander if we could sell them the machine that can tell if a car driving down the road contains a terrorist…I tried to tell them that such a machine doesn’t exist, but then they just thought we were hiding it from them”.
The President’s spokesman with a combative defence of the government’s response to the kidnap
News report my a hidden camera and reporting team from the Nigerian north-eastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State. Maiduguri is the stronghold of Islamist insurgents Boko Haram. It demonstrates just how hard it is to fight Boko Haram. People are reluctant to give information to the security forces as they do not know whether their friends or neighbours are Boko Haram members or supporters.
The federal government sent in an army unit called the Joint Task Force (JTF). The JTF has had training in counter-terrorism and urban warfare. It is fighting a very unconventional war, and Boko Haram’s habit of blending into the civilian population makes it hard for the JTF to distinguish Boko Haram members from ordinary civilians.
The JTF’s allegedly heavy handed tactics and heavy shootouts with Boko Haram are angering some and leading to sympathy for Boko Haram. The JTF has declared a dusk to dawn curfew, and banks, shops and businesses close early in fear of the violence.