Nigeria: An Incomplete Victory

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December 28, 2015: Although Boko Haram suffered a very obvious and massive defeat early in 2015, the Islamic terrorist group is still active and in the second half of 2015 has killed over 1,500 people. Over a thousand armed Boko Haram remain in the northeast, hiding in the countryside. They survive by looting rural villages and attacking traffic on the main roads. This raiding and robbery is where most of the casualties come from, because Boko Haram raids are violent and meant to terrify. As the people (and sometimes police or soldiers) flee, the Islamic terrorists grab what they can and leave before reinforcements arrive. Boko Haram has to be careful because a growing number of towns and villages are forming self-defense militias. The army will help with this and respond to calls for help by militias under attack. Because of this and continued army and police activity over a thousand Boko Haram have died in the last six months. Yet the causes of Boko Haram popularity (corruption and inefficient government) remain. Thus there are still new recruits who want to join. Since 2009 Boko Haram violence has led to over 16,000 deaths along with nearly three million fleeing their homes and nearly a million children kept from school. That last item is a big deal with Boko Haram because their name means, literally, “Western education is forbidden”. Thus over 2,000 schools, some in neighboring countries, have been damaged or destroyed. In the last six months the security forces have freed thousands of captives but few of the refugees have felt confident enough to return home. This is particularly true of the more than half a million Christians who fled the northeast since 2014. When given the opportunity Boko Haram prefers to attack non-Moslems.

Boko Haram will still attack soldiers or police, usually via ambush because they need weapons and ammo. Police and army uniforms are useful disguises. The security forces have become more difficult to ambush and Boko Haram seeks out self-defense militias who have modern weapons and are sloppy.

Meanwhile the security forces have gotten better at finding Boko Haram camps out in the bush and raids on these locations usually don’t catch many Islamic terrorists (who post sentries to warn of approaching troops) but do grab stockpiles of weapons, ammo, vehicles and supplies. This keeps Boko Haram too weak to carry out large scale operations against cities or military bases.

Boko Haram has tried to expand into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger but has encountered more resistance (from security forces and locals) than in Nigeria. Boko Haram will still raid into these other countries but has found it too dangerous to establish bases.

President Buhari has, at the end of 2015, openly declared Boko Haram defeated, but admits that the Islamic terrorist group is not destroyed and remains a threat. The government believes the 2015 defeats have made some Boko Haram leaders, and their followers, willing to accept an amnesty deal and stop fighting but has not disclosed how many Boko Haram have expressed real interest in this program.

In the northeast (Kaduna State) soldiers arrested seven Boko Haram who were planning a major series of attacks and had already built several bombs. The seven men had been under investigation for some time before the arrests were carried out.

In the south (Niger River Delta) operations against oil thieves this year led to the seizure of over fifty ships and more than 200 barges used by the gangs along with the destruction of more than a hundred crude (and often portable) refinery operations (for turning crude oil into more useful kerosene) and the arrest of over 1,600 oil thieves and associates. Hundreds of weapons were seized as well as vehicles, speed boats and other equipment. The oil theft continues in part because some gangs bribe the right politicians and are generally left alone.

December 27, 2015: In the northeast (outside Maiduguri, capital of Borno State) Boko Haram raided several villages but were repulsed by security forces and self-defense militia. It has been several months since there was any large scale Boko Haram violence near Maiduguri. There were over 30 casualties this time. This appeared to be a hit and run attack because most of the attackers fired from vehicles that kept on going. The army said they killed ten suicide bombers who tried to get close to checkpoints.

December 24, 2015: The army announced that some of the self-defense volunteers in the northeast would be incorporated into the army as paid paramilitaries. The self-defense militia movement has produced a growing number of individuals who have proven themselves in combat and in their ability to organize and operate these militias. The army wants to reward and work more closely with these men. Putting them on the payroll and in uniform (at least part time) does that. These para-military forces would be entrusted with weapons, vehicles and other equipment. The big problem will be trying to prevent the crippling of this program because of corruption.

In the south pirates released five Indian sailors they had taken from a ship offshore on the 11th. It was unclear if ransom was paid. Piracy remains a problem although off Nigeria is means pirates sneaking on big ships at night, stealing portable items of value and perhaps taking a few key personnel to hold for ransom.

December 22, 2015: In the south (Bayelsa State) police arrested five men and charged them with piracy and dealing in stolen oil. Also taken were several firearms. The pirates are not just a menace to large commercial ships anchored offshore but also to the many smaller craft that transport people and cargo through the many waterways of the Niger River Delta. These pirates often kill passengers and crews of these small boats before looting the dead and the cargo.

December 21, 2015: Britain has agreed to send nearly a hundred military trainers, advisors and technical experts. This includes an EOD (Explosives Ordnance Disposal) team to help the army deal with growing number of mines, roadside bombs and such Boko Haram are using. Some of the advisors will help the air force to improve its operations and maintenance procedures.

December 20, 2015: In the northeast (Borno state) there were two clashes with Boko Haram that left twelve of the Islamic terrorists dead. Troops also seized of eight weapons. Elsewhere in Borno three Boko Haram suicide bombers (all teenage girls) approached a checkpoint and detonated their explosive vests killing six and wounding 24.

Near the Cameroon border villagers reported that Cameroon soldiers came to their village asking if anyone had seen Boko Haram they were pursuing into Nigeria. Before anyone could say much the troops began firing. The villagers who fled returned later and found 70 dead civilians in their village. Cameroon denies the accusation.

Nigeria was asked to join an anti-terrorism coalition organized by Saudi Arabia. This new group consists (so far) of 34 Moslem nations including Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, the Palestinians, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Yemen. The nation with the largest number of Moslems, India, was apparently not invited to join. All the current members are largely Sunni. Some nations are not welcome, like Iran, Syria and Iraq. This is because the Sunni Gulf States (led by Saudi Arabia) are at war with Iran, which considers Syria and Iraq allies. Pakistan has not announced exactly what it would do as part of this new coalition but did make it clear it will not take part in any operations against Iran or Syria.

Nigeria, which is only half Moslem, was asked to join because it has become a major source of Islamic terrorist violence. In the grand scheme of things Libya is the ninth most active site of Islamic terrorism. In 2015 Iraq and Afghanistan are first and second most violent with Nigeria third while Pakistan and Syria are fourth and fifth. The other most terrorized nations in Africa were Somalia at eighth place and Libya in ninth .

Some 60 percent of the terrorism deaths after 2001 occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria. Over 90 percent of the victims there were Moslems. Over 40 percent of the killing was carried out by just five organizations; Al Qaeda, ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant), the Taliban, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram. Nearly all current terrorism deaths are the work of Islamic terrorists. While not all Moslems are terrorists over 90 percent of active terrorists are.

December 16, 2015: In the northeast (Borno) four Boko Haram suicide bombers (all teenage girls) approached a checkpoint but were seen for what they were and fired on by the self-defense militia. One girl managed to set off here explosives but the explosion and the gunfire left all four bombers dead along with one militiaman.

December 15, 2015: In the northeast (Borno) army raids on four Boko Haram camps led to one Islamic terrorist being killed (as he was too slow to escape) and 31 civilian prisoners freed. Boko Haram captures civilians and uses them as slaves in their rural bases. Elsewhere in Borno Boko Haram attacked three villages leaving 30 dead and 20 wounded.

December 14, 2015: In the northeast (Kaduna State) soldiers are accused to killing nearly a thousand civilians since the 12th. This rampage was triggered by a crowd of Shia men blocking a convoy that included an army general. The army denies the accusations but it is unclear exactly what happened because Boko Haram and the military are both hostile to journalists and few are regularly covering the operations against Boko Haram out in the countryside. The army has a long history of this sort of misbehavior and despite strenuous official efforts to halt it, the troops will still act badly towards civilians.

Elsewhere in the northeast (across the border from Borno state in Cameroon) police and volunteers killed two female suicide bombers before they could hurt anyone but themselves.

December 11, 2015: In the northeast (across the border in Cameroon) two Boko Haram suicide bombers attacked a town, one bomber exploded killing ten and wounding over twenty. The explosive vest of the other suicide bomber failed to work and the bomber managed to flee in the confusion.

 

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