Economist article on the latest government and army proposals to fight Boko Haram. The government seems to be trying everything: military force, negotiations with Boko Haram, an amnesty, and finally – a long overdue campaign to provide counselling to Boko Haram members and get Imams to give them non-violent interpretations of the Koran.
Nigeria’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki outlines the government’s new ideas for combating Boko Haram. The plan focuses on economic development and job creation, as a means of drying up poverty and recruits for Boko Haram.
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.
A few facts about the group that killed seven foreign hostages in Nigeria a day ago:
*The group is called “Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis-Sudan” (“the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa) – AKA Ansaru.
*Ansaru is a splinter group from Boko Haram.
*While Boko Haram attacks local targets, Ansaru seems to have an international agenda. It crossed over Nigeria’s border, entered Cameroon, and kidnapped Western hostages there. It also attacked Nigerian soldiers who were en route to Mali for a UN peacekeeping mission.
Nigeria has serious security challenges on its hands. Like the Delta militancy, the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria is splintering into a hydra. The federal government of President Goodluck Jonathan has a major issue on their hands. They face Boko Haram on the domestic front, and now a new terror group with international capability. Things are looking grim for Goodluck Jonathan.
Is Ansaru a splinter group from Boko Haram, or Boko Haram’s “international wing”?
Mali, Nigeria et al. Islamic militancy seems to be rising in the Sahelian/west African region. What is behind this phenomenon?
Great video by Sahara TV interviewing Al-Jazeera’s Yvonne Ndege who visited Maiduguri in Borno State. Due to Boko Haram activities in the the state’s , and the Joint Task Force’s (JTF) heavy presence, the state has been heavily militarised.
While residents welcome the JTF’s presence, daily life has been badly affected with normal routine civilian life being heavily disrupted by fighting between Boko Haram and the JTF, JTF curfews between 9pm and 6am. However residents are so frightened that they do not leave their homes before 11am since gun battles between the JTF and Boko haram tend to rage in the early morning.
Some residents also accuse the JTF of indiscriminately arresting civilians whom they suspect of being Boko Haram members, and of summarily executing suspects. In their defence, the JTF say it is next to impossible for them to distinguish civilians from Boko Haram members since Boko Haram members might live with family members who are not members.
Are the tactics of the Nigerian army making the Boko Haram insurgency even worse? A report by Amnesty International entitled Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence accused the army of carrying out summary executions, torture and detention without trial. It accused the army of breaching human rights with “impunity in the name of fighting terror”. Abuses include illegal executions and forced disappearances. The report warns that the army’s repressive tactics may increase support for Boko Haram.
The army’s spokesman for the Joint Military Taskforce in north-eastern Nigeria (Lt-Colonel Sagir Musa), denied the accusations.
Lt-Colonel Sagir Musa denied the allegations.
Enjoy the full film adaptation of the Navy Seal raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
A video presentation by the Economist on the evolution, aims, tactics and attacks of Boko Haram. Not nice viewing on Nigeria’s 52nd Independence Day anniversary.