In my previous review, entitled: Who are you, Boko Haram? (dated December 2012) , I concluded that as a result of official ties with al Qaeda, AQIM (al Qaeda in the Maghreb) and al-Shaba'ab in Somalia, Boko Haram (BH) presents a real threat to Nigeria unity, and to Western interests in Africa. I emphasized the dangers from increasing cooperation in the operational capacity of Boko Haram. I also suggested that Western countries provide Nigeria with military equipment and counter-insurgency warfare training.
What Boko Haram achieved in less than a year is quite remarkable: Boko Haram was the de facto ruler of north eastern Nigeria for many years, purging the regions of Yobe and Borno of their Christian populations and of any semblance of government control. The group instituted Sharia law, collected taxes, and developed an Islamic education system to indoctrinate youth into serving as jihadist fighters. The group was also involved in the Northern Mali conflict, which had reverberations throughout the sub-Saharan region. BH performed many bloody attacks inside Nigeria, targeting military barracks, police stations, churches, banks, merchandise convoys, and other civilian targets. Abducting foreigners became a hallmark of their activities (some foreigners were executed while others were released after paying a ransom). As a result of internal debates, a new group splintered away from BH in the beginning of 2012 named Ansaru, This group is also violent and operates on the international level but its leaders object to Boko Haram's attitude toward Nigerian Muslims.
In the beginning of 2012, the Nigerian government initiated talks with the local leadership in Northern Nigeria (Northern Elders Forum -NEF- religious leaders and traditional rulers) , and various representative from Boko Haram in order to start a reconciliation process, including amnesty for Boko Haram members (as the federal government did with the MEND in the Niger Delta). On May 14, 2013, the Nigerian army launched "Operation Restore Order," a huge military offensive in three states in the north (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa), aimed at liquidating the BH presence in these states and returning a central government presence.. In the beginning of June, Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck formally approved the proscription of Boko Haram and the publication of an order declaring the group's activities as illegal and acts of terrorism. The order, which has been publicized as the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice 2013, affects both Boko Haram (Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad) and the splinter group Ansaru (Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan). The order was approved by President Goodluck, pursuant to Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.
In June 2013, the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered banks and other financial institutions in the country to report accounts belonging to both Boko Haram and Ansaru. At the same time, federal government officials held secret peace talks with BH representatives, On July 11th 2013, the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North and Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, revealed to State House correspondents in Abuja that BH made the decision to negotiate following their conclusion that the Federal Government was sincere in its intentions.
Turaki disclosed that the framework for the ceasefire still had to be finalized before the agreement would be signed after which details would be made public. In response to the disclosure, BH leader Abubakar Shekau released a 15-minute video denying everything: "We will not enter into any agreement with non-believers or the Nigerian government," he said, speaking in his native Hausa. "The Quran teaches that we must shun democracy, we must shun Western education, and we must shun the constitution." For the moment the Ansaru position toward the achieved agreement is unknown, though it is expected that they will reject the agreement automatically since the group announced that "We will have [a] dispassionate look into everything, to encourage what is good and see to its spread and to discourage evil and try to eliminate it." Meanwhile, on the ground, military operations against Boko Haram continue, as well as Boko Haram's terrorist campaign against military and civilian targets.
In the following article I will focus on who is sponsoring Boko Haram, an issue which I believe is fundamental for any terrorist group's survival and operational efficiency.