WHAT  IS  THE  SOURCE                    

                                                                                                         OF                                                                                                      BOKO  HARAM’S       SOPHISTICATED    MILITARY  AND  PROPAGANDA  STRATEGY?       Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju Who is Behind the the Islamic Terrorist Group Boko Haram? Analysts are asking who is behind the the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram which has been ravaging Northern Nigeria for years, escalating its attacks after the Presidential elections of 2011. Roots of Boko Haram : Religion, Poverty, Politics, or All of Them? People trying to explain the intensification of Boko Haram military and ideological attacks on the government and Christians after the 2011 Presidential elections as well as the pre-2011 emergence of Boko Haram as an extremist Islamic group present a number of positions. Some point at obviously wealthy and politically fanatical and perhaps also religiously fanatical backers, perhaps within and beyond Nigeria. None of the group's backers has identified themselves but the agreement between the strategy and resources of the group and the threats of violent change and chaos, making Nigeria ungovernable, by some politicians from Northern Nigeria, at the heart of whom is unsuccessful Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, along with existing anger expressed in widespread murderous violence against Southerners in Northern Nigeria after the failure of Muhammadu Buhari, the one Northern candidate in the 2011 Presidential elections, has led to fingers being pointed at Atiku and his fellow ideologues threatening a choice between a President from the North or chaos and violent change, as using Boko Haram, which existed before the elections, in serving their own political agenda. Atiku Abubakar and some fellow Northern politicians promised chaos making Nigeria ungovernable and violent change in Nigeria if a Northerner did not become Nigerian President in 2011 in line with their understanding of an internal arrangement within the ruling PDP to rotate the Presidency between the North and the South, these Northern politicians in question believing it was now time for the North to produce the President. Southern writer and social activist Wole Soyinka has argued for the source of the

crisis being both a political class struggling to gain political power, likely alluding to the aggrieved Northern politicians, and a recruitment base enabled by decades of underlying and recurrently erupting Islamic extremism in Northern Nigeria. The Nigerian National Security adviser, Andrew Azazi, months after Soyinka made this observation, followed gradually by increasing voices expressing a similar opinion, gives credence to this view by blaming the crisis on the grievances stemming from the PDP zoning formula, working in tandem with Northern Nigerian social problems, describing this zoning formula as not part of the Nigerian constitution, being an agreement only among members of the political elite represented by the PDP. Others have focused on poverty in the North as the root of the crisis, Nigerian central bank governor and prominent Northerner Sanusi Lamido Sanusi arguing Northern poverty is significantly contributed to by unfair allocation of funds to the North by the Nigerian government in which states in the North are cheated while others in the South are over funded. At the same time, Muslims and Northerners on Nigerian centred litstserves struggle to distance Islam and themselves from the Islamic terrorist group, emphasising the group's indiscriminate murders regardless of religion or ethnicity, describing these as killing more Muslims than Christians on account of the relative density of the Muslim population in Northern Nigeria, and struggle to explain the group's anti-Christian focus in bombing of churches with horrendous casualties while avoiding bombing mosques, and the group's efforts to divide Nigeria along religious and ethnic lines, struggling to respond to this evil representation of Islam by debating what is or is not genuinely Islamic. The Struggle Against Boko Haram in the Context of the Group's Integration into Northern Nigeria Responding to a debate between Vantine Ojo, Ibrahim Dauda and Baldwin Ihemelu on Nigerian centred listserves on the claim of the terrorist crisis being a ploy to discredit the Presidency of Southerner and Christian Goodluck Jonathan, I try to contextualize the issues in relation to Boko Haram's successful combination of propaganda and military action, thereby confusing and dividing its opponents, a divide and rule strategy of a kind. I think Baldwin has a point in insisting that the Boko Haram crisis is too complex and in my view the efforts of the government too sustained, leading to consistent successful efforts to uncover Boko Haram cells, with Nigerian soldiers dying in the process, for the government's efforts to be described as evidence of failure. I dont think it can be proven that some Northern politicians are implicated in the Boko Haram crisis but their possible involvement cannot be dismissed because the activities of Boko Haram and the stated goals of these figures, Atiku Abuibakar and his compatriots who promised violent change and chaos if a Northerner did not become President in line with their understanding of the PDP zoning policy, are practically identical. I would modify Baldwin's summation of the relationship between the Boko Haram

problem and Northern Nigerian society as indicating the problem is compounded by the integration of the terrorists into the social fabric of Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram's Mutually Reinforcing Propaganda and Military Strategies Anger in Northern Nigeria over the Outcome of the 2011 Presidential Elections I am not sure if I can explain this integration concept very well here but I can begin by stating that one view is that the terrorists are particularly difficult to flush out on account of their successful use of both terror and claims of being Islamic soldiers advancing and protecting the interests of Muslims. Through terror, they make people afraid to help the government fish them out. Through sending mixed signals of being Muslim and Northern soldiers, they can be described as trying to gain some ideological respectability and possibly feed into the sense of being cheated by a Southerner becoming President expressed by PDP Northern members who understood that as the betrayal of the PDP zoning agreement as well as by those Buhari supporters who went on a murderous rampage against perceived enemies when Buhari lost, leading to a yet uncounted number of people killed by these pro-Buhari supporters, including youth corpers on compulsory post graduation national service, young people cut down by these murderers because they participated in election management in the North, of whom only eleven killed in Bauchi state have been officially recognized by the government, to the best of my knowledge, while these attacks on youth corpers took place in other Northern states apart from Bauchi. So, there is a wellspring of anger in Northern Nigeria that has discredited the government in the eyes of many people, a wellspring that Boko Haram could be tapping into for identification with aggrieved people in Boko Haram's fight against the government, particularly as Boko Haram at various times emphasizes on or other of its goals from Islamising Nigeria to revenge for their murdered leader to avenging and protecting Muslims to trying to discredit the government to trying to create a division in the country along ethnic and religious lines. Shehu Sani is of the view that one reason why Northern political figures are not as motivated as they could be in addressing the problem is that they feel alienated from the present political arrangement, a comment that can be connected to feeling cheated by PDP not zoning the Presidency to the North as allegedly earlier agreed within the PDP. Atiku Abubakar had promised violent change on account of a Southerner becoming President. Another of his colleagues had threatened that the country would become ungovernable for the same reason. . These pronouncements from these men, rich, economically and politically powerful, highly connected, and fanatical in their utterances, utterances they have never denied, modified, retracted or apologized for, even after increasingly loud voices, from Wole Soyinka onwards, either suggested or stated that they are culpable for this terrorist crisis, using Boko Haram as a military wing in pursuing a political goal, necessitates at the very least recognizing an implicit link between these Northern politicians and

this crisis. This is not a definite link because their involvement is not evident, but suggests that they might be implicated on account of the similarity between their stated goals and the escalation of Boko Haram terror in scale and outright antigovernment politicisation after the President was sworn in. The fact that these politicians have never been prosecuted for those treasonous statements may suggest that the government considers them too powerful to prosecute or that their prosecution would be too delicate and volatile an affair, on account of the roots of their grievances in agreements reached within the ruling PDP. Question Arising of Banks and Contacts in Algerian Funding of Boko Haram with 40 Million in Cash In addition to this, it has been revealed by the government that 40 million naira was transferred into Nigeria to Boko Haram from an Algerian terrorist group. As a commentator observed, this transfer would require a Nigerian bank and a receiver of the money within Nigeria. Who are these receivers and these bank/s? Boko Haram's Sudden Desperation to Negotiate Again, after the National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi stated that the current Boko Haram crisis was the result of bad blood over PDP zoning agreements, Nigerian government security chiefs rose from a meeting with a declaration that they would publish the names of Boko Haram backers. Shortly after that, possibly the next day the news broke, Boko Haram, which had earlier threatened to keep fighting till they had brought the government to its knees, began to urge negotiation, trying to use force by threatening the government that they would strike if negotiations did not commence with a stated number of days. Why the anxiety to negotiate in the midst of their unrepentant campaign of terror? Is it possible that the threat of expose their backers has made them particularly desperate? So, however way one reads this story, it is impossible to extricate from suspicion those Northern politicians who threatened hell because a Northerner did not become President. Boko Haram Sophistication in Physical Resources, Combat Strategy and Propaganda Suggesting a Very Well Financed and Tactically Ingenious Operation Economically powerful and politically and perhaps religiously fanatical figures, along with sophisticated guerrilla fighter strategists are behind the group.Who are these people? The evidence of economic power and strategic sophistication in Boko Haram is evident from the sophistication of their total method of war, from the economic value of their weapons and vehicles, to the deadly refinement of their combat strategy and the effective combination of propaganda of obfuscation and terror in line with

deadly military attacks. Divide and Conquer Through Mutually Reinforcing Methods of Unleashing Terror and Invoking Support Their propaganda method involves use of confusion about their goals while focusing on an anti-government strategy by emphasizing different goals at different times while consistently describing themselves as Islamic warriors fighting a secular government and its Christian President and his fellow Christians, reinforcing this religio/political stance by bombing churches and in spectacular fashion during the Christian festival of Christmas and the Christian holy day of Sunday, and in the Bayero University, Kano bombing case maximizing casualties by gunning down church goers fleeing from the carnage of the exploding bombs, while the Islamic terrorist group never bombs any mosque, thereby positioning themselves in relation to those who identify with either of these religious or political positions while while holding the North in a terror grip by indiscriminate killings outside church and mosque regardless of religion or ethnicity, killing fellow Muslims and Northerners who cooperate with the government against them or who openly criticizes them, using their ability to cause death and carnage as a bargaining tool. It is also impossible to realistically avoid giving considerable weight to the belief that the whole saga was orchestrated to achieve something related to Atiku's "violent change" or his compatriot's threat of making the country ungovernable. Ibrahim sums up well Boko Haram's strategy of divide and rule : "... by far Muslims are the most affected by the BH terror attacks than any other religious sect. You will argue that more churches were bombed than mosques but the truth is the number of Muslims killed on the streets and at home are more than the total number of Christians killed in all the churches, even though we know that more than halve of all the churches were bombed." The argument by some that these bombings were done by Christians will not hold water because even if it is true, as is being alleged by some, that some Christians have been accurately indicted for bombing rival churches, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for most, if not all the bombings of churches, including the particularly deadly Christmas day Madalla and Bayero University church bombings. The Bayero University bombing was also strikingly illustrative of Boko Haram's attack method used in the particularly devastating attack on a police station in Kano with bombing from within and shooting people escaping from the blasts. The bombing of churches is also in line with the Boko Haram declaration from 2009 that of their mission to Islamise Nigeria in relation to their stated Al Qaeda related vision, their later declaration that that Christians should leave the North, a goal of national Islamisation reconfirmed by confessions of their members interrogated by the government. Difficulties in Fighting Boko Haram on Account of Ambivalent Responses to the Group How do you fight an enemy who is indistinguishable from others in his environment,

has the sympathy of some people in that environment, such as members of the Northern Summit Group who stated in their press release that Boko Haram's commitment to their faith is evident and that they identify with the group in their being wronged by the government but that the group should relent "a bit" beceause of the harm of their efforts to the North; where there is ambivalence particularly in the North, but also in some quarters in the South, about the group, from key Northern figures downplaying the religious and political element of the Boko Haram crisis and focusing on poverty in the North as the most significant factor in the rise of this brand of Islamic terrorism,. with central bank governor Sanusi even arguing that the North is being cheated in federal allocations; increasing calls, particularly from the North, for negotiation with the group and forgiving of their massive atrocities, resulting in the deaths of so many and social and physical devastation the North would require five to ten years of sustained effort to recover from, , to what might be the sheer paralysis of vocal opposition from the North created by Boko Haram's killing of any who oppose them? Osun State Muslim Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Boko Haram's Demands as Representing True Federalism Other ambivalence comes from outside the North, in the convergence of the quest for a stronger federalism exemplified by some Yoruba figures and the Islamic identification of Muslim Osun state governor Rauf Aregbesola, who, in a recent interview, described the demands of Boko Haram as being in the spirit of true federalism, suggesting that he understands the group as pursuing a valid political mission. I am yet to read an elaboration and analysis of why Aregbesola has this view since the Boko Haram demands, from Islamisation of Nigeria, to revenge for killing of their leader, to threats from Christians and southerners to leave the North or face death, do not look to me like serious political missions consistent with true federalism. The interviewer did not ask Aregbesola what he meant, losing a vital opportunity to learn from a man who sympathizes with Boko Haram mission whatever he might think of their methods, which he did not refer to in spite of the massive dearth tool social disruption it is causing. A Muslim outside the Northern enclave being described as the roots of the problem. Suggesting the complexity of tacking this challenge on account of its complex ideological roots and logistical complexity in guerrilla warfare from from within Nigeria though focused in the North. Who Represents Who? At the same time, we need to ask, what scope of opinion do these politicians represent? To what degree has Boko Haram consistent self declaration as an Islamic army, making sure it does not bomb mosques while bombing churches, at the same time killing outside mosques and churches without discrimination as to religion or ethnicity affected how the group is perceived in the North? On Nigerian centred listerves, Northerners are struggling valiantly to dissociate themselves and Islam from Boko Haram. Northern Muslims have struggled to declare solidarity with Christians.

The Future? Can we describe this crisis as watershed in Nigerian history in which the country will break sooner or later from these foundations or become stronger? 15 May 2012

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