New Map of Boko Haram Activities Shows Evolution; Raises Cause for Concern
New graphics have been released by the reknowned global source of critical information and insight based in Englewood, Colorado, USA, known as IHS Inc. on Tuesday.
According to the source, Boko Haram’s operational environment is drastically evolving to imbibe others hemispheres since its re-emergence in 2010. Although the campaign spanned across the three north-eastern states where the Islamist militant group is primarily based, the 2013 map shows the initial contraction in the group’s operational reach following President Goodluck Jonathan’s announced state of emergency and targeted military campaign in May
According to Natznet Tesfay, head of Africa analysis at IHS Country Risk, “any claims of military success against the group have been overshadowed by the more intense frequency and scale of Boko Haram attacks in Borno and Yobe states over the past year as well as recent improvised explosive attacks targeting the outskirts of the federal capital Abuja.”
(The sequence of maps, as created by the IHS Country Risk Indicators and Analytics team, indicates the frequency of Boko Haram commotion (attacks, arrests or weapons finds) by state and its evolution and maneuvers over time.)
The various shades and highlights shows the areas most affected by Boko Haram’s counter-offensive, which includes border regions of neighbouring Niger and Cameroon where armed forces are supporting Nigerian counterparts in joint border patrols.
France, which recently announced the deployment of some 3,000 troops to Niger, Chad and Cameroon, will most probably focus on enhancing the capacity of security forces in affected Francophone neighbours amid fears of the group’s dispersal across porous borders.
Pledged support from the UK, US, China and Israel to rescue over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14 will most likely take the form of logistical support, including aerial surveillance, and counter-terrorism training.
“Although the Nigerian military will stand to benefit from the assistance, Boko Haram could circumvent an air campaign and any ground offensive, using civilian hostages as human shields and by retreating to bases in covered areas within Sambisa Forest and Mandara Mountains along the Nigeria-Cameroon border,” Tesfay said.
“Any payment of ransoms for hostages will also serve to boost the Islamist group’s capability, which will likely be directed at destabilising any preparation for the February 2015 general elections, fomenting sectarian rivalries as well as targeting any assets or nationals from countries providing assistance,” said Tesfay.
The latter opens the door for greater cooperation between Boko Haram – almost solely focused on Nigeria – and other Sahel-based jihadist groups as their interests become more aligned.
“Boko Haram attacks outside of its operational hub in Nigeria’s northeast will increasingly undermine President Jonathan’s presumed re-election ambitions as well as any optimism gained when Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as the region’s largest economy,” Tesfay concluded.
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