On Saturday the 7th of March 2015, Boko Haram pledges allegiance to the Islamic State and about a week later IS responds by confirming Boko Haram’s allegiance. In an ironic way, this look like when a military is loosing a battle an calls for reinforcement; but is Africa in a whole or lets say Sub-Saharan African to be so worried about this? I do not think so, but at the same time that does not mean that they should all relax.
Here are a new thing we should know about the terrorist group called Boko Haram in order to be able to understand their so called allegiance.
- Boko Haram is an Hausa (local Nigerian Language from the Northern region) name which translated as “Western Education is Sinful” in Arabic meaning Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad.
- The group was founded by the their ex-leader Mohammed Yusuf in 2002. At that time, the group was peaceful and they gained support from most people because in a way they were angered about the fact that after education most people were left without jobs and they also were against some immoral behavior which they believed resulted from Western education and culture.
- During 2007-2009, the group started to metamorphose into a violent organization, they carried out a number of attacks on government institutions in the northern part of Nigeria, and at this point the innocent Nigeria who saw the clear picture of what the group was all about began to fall back, also in 2009 the groups leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed by the Nigerian Security Forces. From this point onwards, the group changed its modus operandi and went very violent and aggressive causing the United States to designate it as a terrorist organization.
Looking this timeline of the terror group, we see that gradually they have been evolving, not until the kidnapping of the 300 plus girl which sparked a global outrage, this was a kind of breakthrough for the group and a tough time for the Nigerian government because a lot of attention was given to the country at that point, which has also undermined the capability of the present administration.
So, what can be said about the groups allegiance to IS? We see that after the kidnapping of the 300 plus school girls, the group has lost popularity in the global media which was a motivating factor for their series of attacks, they became more of a past tense to the international media and this is what every terrorist organization would never dream to become, declaring an allegiance to IS would bring back global attention to them and maybe win them some foreign fighter now that they are facing a full front bombardment from the joint African coalition and loosing so much fighter.
On the other hand, to IS, Boko Haram for now would not be much of an importance, because terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa is not as easy as terrorism in the Islamic Maghreb, the terrain and logistics in this area are not so conducive for their terrorist activities. But to IS, holding unto Boko Haram could also be away to portray to the world that they are expanding territory, though it is not that easy. Libya was a smooth move for them because of the situation on ground and because of its geography but deeper into Africa might prove abortive because of a very different mind set; terrorism is all about the mind set, if you can capture alike ones, its easy to spread the ideology.