Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The militants formerly known as Boko Haram

No, they aren't using a symbol instead of a name now.

Yes, they are back in their bloody and intolerant terror trade.

For those who thought the group had been wiped out last year after the leadership and hundreds of followers were killed or captured by Nigerian authorities, there might be one little detail that was overlooked... 700 detained Boko Haram followers were freed in a jail-break in September of this year. Most made it successfully on the lam and have been steadily regrouping ever since.

So they are certainly back. The open question has "Are they still capable of terror campaigns?", and that can be put to rest as well. They are capable, and rearmed in a manner more substantial than in previous times. What was a panga-and-crude-firearms group now has a plentiful supply of basic combat weapons like AK's. Weapons of source unspecified, to no surprise.

They are actually claiming responsibility for the church bombings in Jos, Nigeria and nearby areas. They've hauled out a name, Jama'atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda'Awatu Wal Jihad (roughly "People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad"), associated with them previously. Seems Boko Haram ("non-Islamic education is a sin") wasn't good enough, I guess. One thing is clear, though: Jos is well into the midlands of Nigeria. The 2009 fighting was up north, in Bauchi. If they *are* able to move and strike outside their favored territory with any real effect, then the threat is no longer regional.

There is some doubt as to whether they actually did perpetrate the attacks, but it seems more likely that the group has just expanded its arsenal of mayhem.

Nigeria needs to step up and face this as what it really is capable of becoming: an Existential Threat to the State, at least in the North and midlands.

If that means setting aside ECOWAS commitments for a time to concentrate on the problem, then Nigeria's allies need to understand this and increase their commitments to deal with all the other (drug-trafficking; military coups; factional rebellions) problems that are plaguing West Africa right now, at least enough to buy the Nigerians some time.


Wikipedia link (the first link in this thread) is for convenience only. Please check any cited source there for actual research.

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