Amnesty International’s report on the Cameroonian Military’s brutal interrogation tactics could place the population at odds with the security services and end up benefiting Boko Haram in multiple ways.



Understanding the complexity and sensitivity of handling insurgency groups and their influence to the local population within a specified vulnerable environment, is key to any long lasting designed Anti-Terrorism and Counter terrorism solution.

The vital need for authorities to gather timely information through interrogation for the purposed of addressing underlying causal factors, groups capabilities; networks, training, logistics and tackling potential targets requires a very well-trained security service.

Anything less results in mistakes and inhuman treatments that could turn the initial objective inside out, eliminating any chances of winning the hearts and minds of the population.

When faced with an invincible and faceless insurgency movement like Boko Haram, it is far better to let 99 ‘looking guilty’ suspects go free than treat 1 innocent man or woman in such a degrading manner.


Beside the international condemnation and negative exposure of the ineffective and disastrous methods of tackling the Boko Haram crisis, security services need TRUST from the local population if they are to ever succeed to tackle the growing insurgency in Northern Cameroon and the other affected African Countries. Amnesty International has reported similar brutal interrogation tactics in Nigeria as well.

The unexpected consequence is simple. This most recent Amnesty international report on Cameroon is very likely to radicalize more vulnerable victims (If not already) who perceive real injustice from the authority that is tasked to protect and preserve peace.

These types of exposed inhuman treatment will likely bolster the propaganda of Boko Haram to vulnerable citizens and even fighters who may be contemplating exit. The message will be evidently clear – you are better off with US than with THEM.

In the worst-case scenario, we may likely see an upsurge of targeted but random attacks against the identified forces, The Rapid Intervention Force Aka BIR, other national security personnel and western targets identified in the report as US and French forces.


There are multiple tested methodologies of extracting information for gathering intelligence from suspected terrorist or criminals without the need to use torture and other inhuman or degrading treatments. The right training does the trick with the right resources.

The absence of the right or adequate interrogation training mostly provided by foreign states with little or no knowledge of the people and their cultural is the fundamental causation factor. 

This is made worse by the lack of client knowledge of possible counterproductive consequences when things hit the fan. Inadequate training leaves trainees with only a ‘hammer’ as a tool, thus every problem ends up being treated as a nail.

Insurgency groups that use terror tactic like Boko Haram take advantage of security forces poor interrogation tactics to stay active, by attracting more recruits to continue their activities because they will not be protected by the governance system.

It has been said more often, that ‘revolutions’ are caused and sustained NOT by the direct actions of ‘revolutionaries’ themselves but by the stupid reaction of state security services – here we have it in Northern Cameroon. With the right training in place, from the right partners, such inhuman treatments of suspects will be completely unnecessary.


Written By Bulwark Intelligence Senior Contributor: David Otto

David Otto is the CT Director of TGS Intelligence Consultants Ltd and the Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism Programme – Step In Step Out (SISO) based in the United Kingdom. He is also the Senior Counter Terrorism Advisor for Global Risk International.

Follow me on Twitter: @ottotgs