Boko Haram is putting out positive spin on the Internet, insisting it was not hurt by the two week old government offensive. But there was a lot of damage and one result was a sharp reduction in Boko Haram attacks and their operations in general. On the down side, the government believes that most of those killed or arrested were new recruits and less skilled Boko Haram operatives. What the army really wants is the few hundred most experience Boko Haram members, who have the skills to build bombs and plan attacks. Over a hundred of these returned from Mali since February. There they tasted defeat by the French/Chad offensive that is still hunting for remaining Islamic terrorists in northern Mali. But for many months the Boko Haram in Mali tasted power as the Islamic radicals ran northern Mali, using Islamic law (sharia) and terror to get things done. Actually, all that sharia and bad behavior ruined the economy and sent several hundred thousand civilians fleeing. It’s unclear if that made any impression on the Boko Haram Mali vets. They did return with a sense of urgency and the skills needed to increase attacks inside Nigeria.
The government arrested more than a hundred Boko Haram suspects and many of them did have a connection with Boko Haram, and some were willing to talk about it. By cross-checking the information provided it was possible to determine which was true and to what extent. Arrests are still being made and most Boko Haram members continue to be distracted by the need to avoid getting arrested.
What is known is that the army has halted cell phone service in much of the northeast, putting Boko Haram at a disadvantage because the army and police have their own radios to communicate with. The military says they also destroyed a Boko Haram hospital and fuel storage depot, as well as several training facilities. A lots of documents were captured as well, and these are still being studied and exploited. In response the United States has openly, and privately, asked the military to try and control their personnel and avoid the all-too-common killing of innocent civilians during these operations, as well as the frequent looting of their possessions.
June 1, 2013: It appears that some Boko Haram members may have been involved in an unsuccessful attack on the main prison in the capital of neighboring Niger. Several Boko Haram men are held prisoner there.
May 30, 2013: In the southwest (Oyo State) customs police found over 56,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in goods being brought in from neighboring Benin. Smuggling is big business in Nigeria and the customs police are good at spotting illegal goods. Usually that means a bribe to let the goods pass but in the case of items that might get the cops killed (like ammo), it’s more likely that the contraband will be seized (although other corrupt officials might make the stuff disappear from government custody and show up on the black market).
In the north police released 58 women and children taken into custody during recent raids on Boko Haram bases. Some of the children admitted that they had been paid to place bombs and scout for the adult terrorists but all 58 were granted amnesty. This gesture is part of an effort to get Boko Haram to negotiate a peace deal, something the Islamic terror group is still opposed to. Boko Haram leaders are angry about the recent army offensive and the heavy losses they have suffered (but deny and insist that the army was defeated). Admitting defeat would make Boko Haram much less effective because the group has terrorized much of the northeast largely because of its reputation of being able to hit anyone, anytime, anywhere (in the northeast at least). But now the army has killed or captured many Boko Haram members and caused the rest to scatter. That gives the locals some hope and the Boko Haram leadership fits.
May 29, 2013: Police arrested three Lebanese men who admitted they were members of pro-Iran Lebanese Islamic terror group Hezbollah. The police also revealed they had seized a Hezbollah arms cache in the northern city of Kano. The police believe Iran is using Hezbollah to provide support for Boko Haram and that one of the three men arrested was caught trying to smuggle $60,000 into the country.
May 26, 2013: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri
police continue to round up Boko Haram members and confirmed that they had disrupted several planned attacks. In the last few days three Boko Haram men have been killed and 25 arrested in the city.
May 25, 2013: In the south police rescued four foreign oil workers (two Russians and two Ukrainians) kidnapped last April 22nd. In the north police have found and freed even more Nigerians who had been kidnapped for ransom (both by Boko Haram and local ghangsters).
May 24, 2013: Pirates attacked another ship (a small tanker) off the coast and are believed to have looted the vessel and kidnapped some of the 17 man crew.