Reports of Boko Haram terrorists request for dialogue resurfaced once again.
Boko Haram Terrorists request dialogue
Reports of Boko Haram terrorists reaching out for dialogue resurfaced once again. Moments after President Mohammed Buhari insinuated that the Federal Government was willing to negotiate with credible members of the terrorist group, the non-government independent agency called the Center for Crisis Communication reported an increase in calls to the center by militants willing to drop their arms and surrender. A few days later, it was reported that about 8 members of BH in Borno had renounced their membership, citing that they are tired of killing innocent souls and were did not want to wage Jihad anymore.
SIGNIFICANCE: A number of Boko Haram insurgents are young men who were given an ultimatum to either join the insurgency or die. Such men were left no choice then, but are possibly the ones who are now willing to give up their arms. The Nigerian government needs to devise a plan to effectively deal with such situations. This week the Deputy Governor of Borno State publicly stated that if the insurgents sincerely want to drop their arms and negotiate, the federal government should consider their requests.
Boko Haram Latest Video Release
Boko Haram released a new video recording this week in which an unidentified young man stated that he was speaking in the name of Islamic State in West Africa and indicated that the group was still operating stronger and unobstructed. The video then showed militants attacking a security checkpoint, seizing weapons, and slitting the throat of a man dressed in a police uniform. Notably absent from the video was the groups’ known leader Abubakar Shekau.
SIGNIFICANCE: Abubakar’s absence is noteworthy because this is the second video released in which he has not been featured. It is possible that Shekau has been KIA, wounded or has fled the area. Confirmation of the fate of Shekau can be determined either by waiting for the leader to resurface in another media production, or via effective human intelligence and communications intelligence which will utilize the insurgents’ response and communications to determine his status and whereabouts.
Despite the absence of the BH leader, the insurgent group effectively carried out several attacks this week in Cameroon, Adamawa, and Borno State. The attack in Adamawa occurred in the Kobachwa villate in Madagali area, killing 5 civilians in the farming community. The locals who have resorted to utilizing CJTF to ward off insurgent attacks stated that the recent rains could be encouraging insurgents to leave their comfort areas and launch attacks against the nearby communities.
The Borno attack occurred on Sunday on the Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu highway at a remote village Nwajurko near Sabon Gari in Damboa LG. The BH insurgents ambushed and killed four commercial motorists, abducted two men and injured 3 others.
The attack in Cameroon occurred around 1.30am in village called Tchakamari, on the Cameroonian border. 7 civilians were killed and 20 were kidnapped.
SIGNIFICANCE: The attack on the Cameroonian border is one of several that have been mounted against the country in recent times as a result of the country’s increased involvement in the counter terrorism fight. The Cameroonian government had announced plans to send 2000 additional troops to the far north region; they expelled about 2,800 Nigerians living illegally in Cameroon, and banned fully veiled women. All these measures were taken to protect civilians from BH attacks. While these measures deal with the surface issue, they do not address one of the key means by which BH insurgents get into the country which is via illegal entry points.
Illegal Border Crossing
Nigeria, reported that there are 1,497 illegal routes into the country from its neighboring countries, and these aid in the movement of illicit arms and insurgents to neighboring states. The house of reps led a motion this week, addressing the illegal border routes and urging the federal government along with the nation’s security agencies to devise and implement an effective measure to disrupt these illegal border crossings.
IED Making Factory
The security forces in the area made significant strides this week when they successfully cleared 5 IEDs from the road Gwoza and Yemteke in Dikwa area of Borno. Other IED making materials were recovered including piles of street lamp poles.
SIGNIFICANCE: The discovery of IED making factories is a positive step in the counter terrorism fight. If proper IED forensics is carried out on the recovered devices, it could help security forces identify several key information including the actors involved in making the bombs, the profiles of those who implant the IEDs, and the key ingredients and components used in the creation. When the components are known, security forces are better able to restrict the easy acquisition of those components, while identifying individuals procuring such items.
The week, former National Security Advisor Col Sambo Dasuki, revealed the previous administration’s means of procuring weapons used by the military in the Boko Haram fight. The Col. claimed that when Western nations (presumably the U.S) refused to sell arms to the Nigerian military, he utilized third party suppliers to acquire them. The inventory list included “Alpha jets, armored personnel carriers (APCs), mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, advanced artillery pieces, assorted arms and ammunition, highly sophisticated surveillance drones, T72 Russian battle tanks, and carried out modifications to F7 supersonic fighter jets”.
The Col. maintained these arms were used to effectively protect Nigerian troops from IED attacks, recover more than 22 local governments under Boko Haram terrorists and ensure that Boko Haram leader Shekau did not disrupt the 2015 elections; Col. Dasuki went as far as to link his weapons procurement effort to the current silence of Shekau. All this in spite of the fact that some of the arms are still yet to be delivered to the Nigerian military.
Many of the former top Nigerian military commanders who recently retired continually cited the U.S’s refusal to sell weapons to the Nigerian military as one of the main reason the BH insurgency has remained successful. When the leader of the U.S congressional delegation Rep. Darrel Issa visited the country this week, he reiterated that Nigeria was not outgunned by BH but are instead in need of other combat related training including how to treat insurgents and civilians captured in a warzone, military strategy and international and humanitarian laws. He explained that the U.S will also help with other forms of support involved with rebuilding and rehabilitating communities and victims of the insurgency.
SIGNIFICANCE: There appears to be renewed trust in the new Buhari administration and its willingness to ensure military professionalism and protection of human rights. The Leahy Act has thus far prevented the US from selling weapons to the Nigerian military. With the high level of human rights abuses, the U.S could not take the risk of the Nigerian military using U.S made weapons against innocent civilians. Aside from this, there was also the issue of U.S weapons getting into the hands of Boko Haram terrorists. There were several occasions where Nigerian bases were overrun by the terrorist group, who then seized the Nigerian military’s weapons and used them against civilians and the security forces. Such a scenario which was prevalent in the last two years of fighting the insurgency was another issue that prevented the U.S from providing arms to the Nigerian Government.
There are other strategic reasons why the U.S providing weapons to the Nigerian military was not a viable option. With the high level of corruption within the previous government and military, weapons sold to Nigeria could have easily ended up in the hands of non U.S allied countries which would have posed a national security threat to the U.S. In addition to that, incidences of intelligence shared with the Nigerian government being leaked out further prevented the U.S from providing additional counter-terrorism assistance to Nigeria.
In spite of the negligent manner in which the previous administration and top military commanders had fought the insurgency, the U.S and British governments’ have renewed their commitments in aiding the Nigerian military in stamping out this insurgency. Nigerian’s President Mohammed Buhari has tasked the Defense ministry to revive and increase arms production in the country. The president stated that Nigerian’s reliance on foreign military equipment was unacceptable. The new administration’s goal towards this arms independence is not only praise worthy, it is also a sensible and sustainable long term strategy that will boost jobs and improve the economy; It also happens to be a strategic and responsible move.
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