In the last three weeks troops in the northeast (Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states) have inflicted several major and many minor defeats on Boko Haram. Hundreds of Boko Haram captives have been freed, largely because more troops are out searching and Boko Haram does not have enough men to defend or move their camps and their captives when troops close in. In short, the Islamic terrorists are running out of places to hide. There are fewer Boko Haram raids, especially large scale ones, and more bombings, often by suicide bombers who think they are delivering a package that is actually a remotely controlled bomb. Most Boko Haram losses are now from desertion, surrender (for amnesty) or capture. Dying for the cause is not as popular as it used to be. One of the side effects of all this is the capture of more information about how some northern businesses, politicians, NGOs (non-government organizations, often charities) and tribal leaders have cooperated with Boko Haram, usually because the Islamic terrorists paid cash or promised immunity from attack. The military says it is consolidating and analyzing all this evidence and will soon make specific accusations.
Another side effect of the Boko Haram violence is the freedom it gave bandits and criminals in general to commit more crimes with less chance of getting caught. The police were either ordered away to concentrate on Boko Haram or, in some areas, the police were chased away. This has led to more crime, especially in rural areas where cattle stealing and bandit raids are always a threat. The government hopes to restore law and order before the end of the year. This confidence is bolstered by foreign help that is on the way. By late October the 8,700 troops of the multinational forces (from Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Chad) will begin operations. This will coincide with the end of the rainy season and better mobility for vehicles in rural areas. The foreign troops want to shut down Boko Haram in Nigeria to keep Islamic terrorists from crossing the border and tormenting the neighbors.
Boko Haram has killed nearly 4,000 people so far this year and nearly half of those since the new president (Muhammadu Buhari) came to power on May 29. Buhari got elected because of his determination to reduce corruption and eliminate Boko Haram. The Islamic terrorists responded by increasing their use of terror attacks and that backfired as it turned even more people against them. Not only did more men join local defense groups (who sometimes inflicted vigilante justice on actual or suspected Boko Haram members) but a growing number of men, women and children risked their lives by reporting whatever they knew about Boko Haram operations. As a result the Islamic terrorists have suffered heavy casualties not just in combat but because a growing number of Boko Haram men are simply surrendering or deserting. All this is mainly because of the Boko Harams’ indiscriminate use of terrorism against just about everyone. Thus despite the continuing Boko Haram bombings Buhari seems to be winning. In the northeast the Islamic terrorists control a lot less territory than they did a year ago and are having problems finding new recruits and hanging onto the ones it has. The military leadership is confident enough with their progress lately that some senior officers believe Boko Haram could become a minor police problem by the end of the year or early 2016.
Unfortunately Boko Haram has managed to win some lasting victories since they began fighting in 2009. In addition to getting nearly 20,000 people killed they have wrecked the educational system in the northeast. After all their name (Boko Haram) means “western education is forbidden” and they have emphasized shutting down schools and killing teachers. The teachers figured this out quickly and nearly 20,000 of them abandoned their schools and fled with their families. Still over 600 teachers were killed and hundreds of schools, serving over half a million children, have shut down. Rebuilding the educational system will be difficult, expensive and time consuming.
October 13, 2015: In central Nigeria (Kogi State) police raided a mosque reported to have become a base for Boko Haram. Ten Boko Haram suspects were killed and several soldiers were wounded. Some locals said this was more about troops seeking revenge for a soldier killed nearby in September.
In the northeast (Borno) three Boko Haram suicide bombs went off in Maiduguri leaving seven dead.
October 11, 2015: In the northeast, just across the border in Cameroon Boko Haram used two teenage girls as suicide bombers to kill nine and wound 29 people in a village near the border. The two girls were apparently carrying bombs that were detonated remotely and apparently without their knowledge.
October 10, 2015: In the northeast, just across the border in Chad Boko Haram used five suicide bombers to kill 36 and wound 50 people in a village near the border and Lake Chad. Most of the victims were Nigerian refugees who had fled the Boko Haram violence.
October 8, 2015: Britain pledged additional aid and assistance in the effort to upgrade the armed forces and defeat Boko Haram. Nigeria was a British colony for 160 years (until 1960) and Nigerian military traditions are based on what was learned from the British. However the British have kept their distance since the late 20th century because of the corrupt military governments that became the norm in Nigeria. The military rule technically ended in 1999 but the corrupt rule did not come under serious attack until recently.
October 7, 2015: In the northeast (Yobe State) troops repulsed a Boko Haram attack on their base and in the pursuit that followed over a hundred Islamic terrorists died along with seven soldiers. The pursuing troops found Boko Haram hideouts including a workshop for building bombs. In the nearby state capital three Boko Haram suicide bombers left 18 dead and ten wounded.
October 4, 2015: In the north, across the border in Niger, two Boko Haram suicide attacks left three civilians and a soldier dead. Nearby police killed four armed Boko Haram men and are searching for two more suspects. So far this year Niger has arrested over 1,100 Boko Haram suspects and made the country very inhospitable for the Islamic terrorists. But Niger also hosts over 150,000 Nigerian refugees and that population is easier for Boko Haram to hide in as there are fewer language and cultural barriers. But a growing number of refugees risk their lives to let the police know what Boko Haram is doing in the refugee community.
October 2, 2015: A Boko Haram suicide bomber hit the national capital (Abuja) for the first time since June 2014. The attack, in the city outskirts near a police station, left 18 dead and over 40 wounded. In the northeast (Borno and Adamawa states) five suicide bomb attacks in the last two days left 25 dead.
September 26, 2015: In the northeast (Borno) troops have found and freed over 240 captive women and children from the Boko Haram in the last week. Nearly fifty Boko Haram men were captured as well.