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Boko Haram, new leaders and new strategy?


The latest series of attacks waged by Nigerian Boko Haram jihadists confirms that the group affiliated with the Islamic State is fully active and still poses a direct threat that extends from Nigeria to Cameroon, Chad, Benin and Niger.
This is demonstrated by the killing of four people and the kidnapping of three women occurred last Tuesday in the village of Kautuva, near the city of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, where in April 2014, the Islamist militants kidnapped 276 girls.

The latest series of attacks waged by Nigerian Boko Haram jihadists confirms that the group affiliated with the Islamic State is fully active and still poses a direct threat that extends from Nigeria to Cameroon, Chad, Benin and Niger.
This is demonstrated by the killing of four people and the kidnapping of three women occurred last Tuesday in the village of Kautuva, near the city of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, where in April 2014, the Islamist militants kidnapped 276 girls.
However, the action that clearly shows how Boko Haram is still fearsome is the attack that hit Bosso in Niger, rural town in the southeast region of Diffa on the border with Nigeria.
It is one of the poorest regions in the world, which since June 2013 hosts a refugee camp, which is home to over 10 thousand civilians fleeing the violence of the terrorist group in the state of Borno State.
It is in the same area that last June 3rd jihadists attacked a military base, killing thirty Nigerien soldiers, two Nigerians and causing sixty-seven wounded among the troops of the two countries. The final toll of the bloody offensive also records the death of 55 Nigerian extremists.
One of the worst attacks suffered by Niger after being deployed in February 2015 in MNJTF, the joint multinational intervention force made by the five countries directly threatened by the terrorist group. The action, lasted three days, was even more remarkable for the fact that the militants have temporarily occupied Bosso, forcing 50 thousand terrified people (UNHCR data) to flee the city.
A few days after the attack, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou traveled to N’Djamena to invoke the help of Chad, who promptly responded by sending about 2 thousand units equipped with heavy weaponry and used to strengthen Bosso military defenses and hunt down Boko Haram militants.
All this shows that the repeated announcements of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, under which Nigerian extremists were “technically” defeated, are not accurate. At the same time, nothing seems worth the arms embargo and the freezing of assets attributable to the Boko Haram’s leaders, prepared in May 2014 by the United Nations Security Council.
What happened two weeks ago in Bosso shows that the group is still in possession of heavy weapons, which according to Bakary Sambe, a specialist on radical movements in West Africa, would arrive from Sudan and Libya, where the black market arms has grown exponentially since the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Nevertheless, still it remains unsolved the riddle about the fate group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, given several times to dead or forced to surrender. The same Nigerian intelligence ignores what happened to the terrorist and the news released last August of a replacement of Shekau with the unknown Mahamat Daoud turned out to be baseless.
Then, last week, Le Monde revealed that now the Boko Haram leader would Bana Blachera, a Cameroonian considered in charge of logistics. Blacher joined the group from the very beginning under the leadership of Mohamed Yusuf, which, according to the French newspaper, the alleged new leader would have neither the charisma nor the ideological preparation.
There is no way, to verify the relevant information provided in the article signed by Par Seidik Abba, but it is clear that Bana Blachera or who really now holds the Boko Haram leadership has reformulated the group’s offensive strategy unleashing military assaults in full-scale, after which in recent months had definitely moved on suicide bombings.
The temporary fall of Bosso in insurgent hands does not indicate that the group is trying to occupy and govern a territory. According to Abba, the decision to militarily occupy the city was dictated by the new strategy to grab weapons, fuel, vehicles and foodstuff.
While it now seems increasingly clear that the oath of allegiance proclaimed by Boko Haram in March 2015 to the caliph al-Baghdadi, has not had a tangible impact on operations and access to finance. It was only a brand that has been screened for the group in new name Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), probably used to increase the sinister reputation of Nigerian extremists.
Some observers, that much debated on the importance of links between Boko Haram and the Islamic state, consider that the recent attacks are a sign that the jihadists Nigerians are returning to the original acronym to identify themselves again in a purely regional dimension.
It remains the fact, that the turning point in the fight against Nigerian extremists much promise by Buhari still has not arrived, and as confirmed by very recent report by the International Crisis Group, the threat of Boko Haram, though resized, is still latent.
@afrofocus

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