ATbar Why the Nigerian Counter-Terrorism policy toward Boko Haram has failed

Why the Nigerian Counter-Terrorism policy toward Boko Haram has failed

02/10/2014 | by Knoechelmann, Maike  

In early 2014 the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria became the headline of every major news network. This abduction was just one attack in a series of attacks committed over the past decade by the Nigerian terror organization Boko Haram. Boko Haram mainly rose to attention by its attacks on the UN headquarter in Abuja and abduction of the schoolgirls.

Yet, its affiliation with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has turned Boko Haram not only into a regionally but also globally perceived threat. The Nigerian government has become the main target of Boko Haram on several occasions and has therefore decided to use military as well as law enforcement to win the battle against Boko Haram.

It has thereby targeted many civilians and has employed a collective punishment approach. However, the frequency of attacks has not decreased and animosity towards the Nigerian government seems to rise especially among the Muslim population. This paper attempts to explain the failure of the Nigerian Counter-Terrorism policy as a cause and effect relationship in the form of three dimensions.

On the first dimension the paper will argue that the Nigerian government has misclassified Boko Haram as solely an ideological terror organization disregarding its ethnic background and ties. The second dimension will show how this misassumption has led to a solely military response disregarding underlying inequalities as factors causing terror. The third and final dimension will then, through the usage of the indiscriminate violence principle of Kalyvas, explain how the use of military force has led to a collective punishment approach.

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