Nigeria: Conspiracy Theories Versus Reality

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July 15, 2014: Boko Haram continues demanding a prisoner swap. The Islamic terrorists are willing to exchange nearly 300 women and girls they have kidnapped since April for all Boko Haram members held by the government. Understandably officials refused such a trade as it would mean Boko Haram would simply keep kidnapping women in order to get any captured terrorists released. Meanwhile the government has still not rescued the captive women. Despite foreign help with intelligence and air reconnaissance there has been no reported progress in finding or rescuing the captives.  Of course if a major rescue effort is in the works it would be a good idea to keep details out of the news. Nevertheless the government continues to be under great public pressure to “do something”. In response the government hints at positive developments “soon.” These vague promises are seen for what they are; not much. 

The government has held secret negotiations with Boko Haram over the release of the female captives and several times it appeared a deal had been made. But every time Boko Haram came up with more demands that were unacceptable or backed away from a deal they had already agreed to. This indicates some dissention in the Boko Haram leadership.

In the three northeastern states where most of the Boko Haram violence occurs the schools have been closed for three months now. This is a victory for the Islamic terrorists, who see Western style education as unsuitable for Moslems. But the education efforts in the northeast continue quietly, unofficially and in secret.  This, however, plays into the anti-Christian paranoia that Boko Haram tries to exploit. Some northern Moslems support Boko Haram because they agree that the Christians, wherever they are, plot to harm Islam and are secretly trying to use education, medicine and all manner of Western technology to subvert young Moslems and turn them into Christians. This sort of murderous paranoia has long been present in Islamic culture but has been declining in the last century. However there is still enough of it around to sustain groups like Boko Haram.

The U.S. has contributed vehicles, communications gear and protective vests to Nigeria for use by elite units fighting Boko Haram. The U.S. is also providing training and intelligence support. American UAVs and manned aircraft have completed their survey of the three northern states where Boko Haram is most active and have shared that data with other nations providing aerial reconnaissance help. The problem now is for Nigerian ground forces to make use of the data collected. This the Nigerians are reluctant to do because the Boko Haram fighters use booby traps ambushes to defend their rural bases. It’s a bloody business going after Boko Haram where they live. Not a lot of Nigerian army or police commanders are eager to take this on. There is also fear of failure, especially when it comes to rescuing all the women being held hostage. Nevertheless the Nigerians have improved their intelligence collecting. Part of this is the result of American electronic eavesdropping technology, which provides a lot of tips on what Boko Haram may be up to and where these Islamic terrorists are operating. This has enabled Nigerian intelligence to develop more informants on the ground. Most Moslems, and nearly all Christians, fear and hate Boko Haram and many will pass on information to the army or police. Foreign intelligence agencies have helped the Nigerians improve their ability to collect and process all these tips and this is providing more timely warnings on what the Islamic terrorists are up to or clues as to the identify of Boko Haram members in the cities. Bombs that are found and disabled and attacks that are otherwise disrupted is not the sort of thing that makes the headlines, but a lot more of it has been happening. What is not so easily fixed is the poor leadership and training found in so many police and army units, as well as the culture of corruption and impunity in the security forces. For the soldiers and police the scariest thing about Boko Haram is their fearlessness and readiness to fight back if attacked. Nigerian soldiers and police are not used to this sort of attitude and are having trouble adapting to it.

The three hardest hit states of the northeast are suffering a big hit to their economies. While GDP growth nationally has fallen less than one percent because of Boko Haram violence this year, in those three northern states GDP is shrinking by over ten percent this year. Nationally GDP will grow over six percent this year. Meanwhile just across the border the six million people of northern Cameroon are also suffering an economic disaster because of Boko Haram. The Islamic terrorists have disrupted foreign aid projects there and economic activity in general. Investors are leaving and large scale projects are being suspended until security can be improved. The frequent closing of the Nigerian border hurts as well, because of the large volume of trade that normally moves in both directions.

July 13, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram gunmen attacked a Christian village, setting fire to three churches and causing dozens of casualties before retreating when the military showed up. The air force killed some villagers by mistake and the final death toll was over 40. The Boko Haram gunfire on the village continued into the next day as some Islamic terrorists continued shooting from the forests.

July 12, 2014: Boko Haram released a new video on the Internet. In it the Boko Haram leader mocked army efforts to defeat the Islamic terrorists and again demanded the release of captured Boko Haram men in return for the kidnapped women and girls. In closing the Boko Haram leader called for Moslems to kill more Christians.

In the capital (Abuja) police uncovered a Boko Haram plot to carry out bombings of transportation targets in the city using time bombs and suicide bombers. Boko Haram has been trying to carry out more attacks in the rest of Nigeria, especially the Christian south but has had limited success. Over 90 percent of Boko Haram violence continues to occur in the three northeastern states.

July 11, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) troops found and seized a Boko Haram camp. Most of the Islamic terrorists got away but several were captured along with nearly a hundred rifles and machine-guns plus bombs, rockets, ammunition and military equipment. This included dozens of army uniforms.

In the northeast Boko Haram gunmen coming from Nigeria attacked a Cameroon border post. One Cameroonian soldier was wounded and blood trails indicated that at least one of the attackers was hit as well.

July 9, 2014: The government announced that recent raids on forest camps of Boko Haram had found documents connecting the Islamic terrorists with northern politicians and political parties. It’s a common theme among southern politicians that Boko Haram is actually the creation of northern politicians who the group to make the central government (currently controlled by southern Christians) look bad and help northerners gain control of the national government in the next elections by convincing enough Nigerians that only northern (Moslem) politicians can solve the Boko Haram problem. There is some truth to this, but not much. Some northern politicians have collaborated with Boko Haram, but usually out of fear or strictly for business reasons. Most major politicians have links to criminal gangs or have some of these gangsters on the payroll to take care of dirty work. But few people believe some northern politicians created Boko Haram. This Islamic radical group has easily traced roots in the north that make it clear these Islamic radicals are quite hostile to the northern politicians.

July 8, 2014: Boko Haram has launched at least 18 attacks in the northeast in the last two weeks. This terrifies the population up there and makes the government look helpless in the face of Boko Haram terrorism.

In the far north Boko Haram gunmen coming from Nigeria attacked a Cameroon border post. All the Cameroonian soldiers were killed or driven away. The Islamic terrorists looted the border post and fled back to Nigeria.

July 6, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) Boko Haram gunmen attacked a police station and military camps near the Cameroon border. Seven villagers were killed, including one member of a local defense force. Five of the attackers were killed and five captured. Several buildings were set on fire during all this.

July 4, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) over fifty Boko Haram gunmen were killed when they attacked an army base. Six soldiers were killed defending the base against several hundred Boko Haram men. Elsewhere in the northeast a suicide truck bomber set off his explosives, killing himself and five local defense volunteers who had stopped him before he could get near a mosque with over a thousand people inside. The mosque was known for its anti-Boko Haram attitudes and had additional security to prevent such attacks.

July 3, 2014: In the northeast (Borno state) police arrested three women and accused them of operating a terrorist cell that recruited women to be suicide bombers or otherwise actively assist Boko Haram.

July 2, 2014: The government reports that over sixty women and girls had escaped from Boko Haram captivity in June but that more than 200 are still being held.

July 1, 2014: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri a Boko Haram bomb went off in an outdoor market killing at over fifty people. In the last two days there have been at least seven Boko Haram attacks in the northeast, leaving over fifty dead.

The government announced they had arrested a northern businessmen who had joined a vigilante group even though he was already a member of Boko Haram. The arrested man was part of a Boko Haram cell that included two women and was believed to have played a role in the April kidnapping of over 200 girls.

 

 

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