By Uzay Bulut
September 4, 2019
Boko Haram, the ISIS-aligned group seeking to establish an
Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its
establishment. Contrary to initial and subsequent assessments, however, the terrorist
group, also known as Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP), was not to
be easily defeated. On the contrary, every year, the jihadist group, which has
gained a foothold in the neighboring African countries of Cameroon, Chad and
Niger, appears to be growing stronger.
Suicide bombings and other deadly attacks committed by Boko
Haram terrorists over the past decade have claimed the lives of tens of
thousands of innocent people, while more than two million others have been
displaced. These figures do not even include the thousands of women and
children abducted, some of whom, according to the Counter Extremism Project
(CEP), "have been forced to carry out suicide missions."
The CEP explains:
"Boko Haram has increased the number of female suicide
bombers due to the easy concealment of weapons under hijabs and Islamic customs
that forbid men to frisk women."
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), so far
in 2019, Boko Haram has kidnapped 179 people in Niger alone, mostly women and
girls, a number that amounts to nearly one person per day. This does not
include the many unreported abductions or those that took place in Nigeria or
ICC's regional manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, recently
told Gatestone that "this increase in abductions in Niger is worrying,
because it shows that Boko Haram's influence and power are spreading."
"Islamic extremism has found a home in Africa for
multiple reasons. The first is insecurity. A lack of governmental control has
allowed jihadist groups to hold vast areas of land and have sway over millions
of people's lives. This provides the terrorists with space to train and rest, a
population from which to recruit operatives and the opportunity to raise or
"The second reason is poverty and illiteracy. Millions
families live in the poorest of circumstances in Africa's Sahel region. Four of
the 10 countries in the Sahel are among the 25 poorest countries in the world.
Their lack of money means that infrastructure, education and healthcare, among
other things, suffer. With all of these issues, extremist groups find an easy
source of volunteers when they are able to offer money and power.
"The third reason is easy access to weapons. With
funding and support from outside sources such as ISIS, groups like Boko Haram
can easily get weapons that match or beat those of the local militaries of
these countries. When Muammar Gaddafi fell in Libya, a flood of weapons hit the
black market and were made available to terror groups across West Africa. This
has made it easier for them to attack both civilians and soldiers, as well as
"Finally, Islam holds a historical claim to much of
Africa. It is clear that the farther north in Africa you go, the stronger
Islam's hold. Many North African countries also already adhere to a very strict
and extreme interpretation of Islam. Mauritania, Algeria and Sudan, for
instance, constantly persecute Christians and other non-Muslims. This means
that they are also more likely to support terrorist groups that share their
beliefs. Sudan is a known supporter of terrorism, for example.
"Nigeria has been the most devastated by Boko Haram,
which roughly translates as 'Western education is forbidden.' Until very
recently, the Nigerian government continued to claim that Boko Haram was
defeated. Although the terrorist group did lose territory and power between
2015 and 2017, however, it has regained almost all of it. Nigeria's government
has proved itself to be incompetent at best, and at worst, complicit in the
"Many groups have been working for years in Nigeria to
help those most affected by Boko Haram. The United States Agency for
International Development (USAID), for example, gives billions of dollars in
aid to northeastern Nigeria. The problem is that aid, which helps fix small
amounts of damage, is not a sufficient answer. As long as groups such as Boko
Haram are able to keep destroying whole villages and infrastructure -- while
devastating populations -- NGOs will never be able to keep up. The attacks have
to stop before there can ever be real healing in those areas."
Boko Haram's Campaign Of Death And Destruction Includes:
? An attack on
the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, in 2011.
? The abduction
of nearly 300 children from the mostly Christian town of Chibok, Nigeria in
2014. About 112 Chibok schoolgirls are still missing.
? The multi-day
massacre of the northern town of Baga and surrounding villages in 2015 that
killed approximately 2,000 civilians;
? The 2018
attack on a military base in Borno state, which left about 100 soldiers dead;
? The July 2019
attack on a funeral gathering in northeastern Nigeria, in which 65 people were
? The July 2019
release of a video of six Christian aid workers in Nigeria begging for their
lives after being kidnapped by Boko Haram
? The July 29,
2019 attack on the Christian village of Kalagari in northern Cameroon,
reportedly kidnapping at least eight Christian women and cutting off their
? The August
2019 night raid in southeastern Niger, which left 12 villagers dead.
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished
Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
Original Headline: Boko Haram: Bloody Terror, No End in