by Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive
In the draft, “How To Fight In A 4TH Generation Insurgency” by Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Marine Corp, they cited Mao Ze Dong’s “Theory of Protracted War”, where the legendary Mao averred that insurgencies often work in 3 phases: establish a political base/ideology, conduct irregular warfare against the government, and finally overthrow the government through conventional war.
The Boko Haram Terrorists appear to have gone through the above phases with a forceful attempt to carve out a Caliphate in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. All that appears to be a mirage with the current offensive by the Nigerian military and Multi National Joint Task Force, using the time tested “hammer and anvil” strategy. But the sect fought back through Person Borne IEDs in the urban centres especially the markets, amidst tremendous pressure from the military, culminating in “SHEKAU III” pledging allegiance to Abubarkar L-Baghdadi, the Caliph of the Islamic State In Iraq & Syria, thereby opening another vista on the war on terror.
What are the implications of ISIS’s extension to Nigeria? Is Nigeria Security & Intelligence Services ready to confront the next phase of the attacks coordinated by ISIS?
In a piece in 2012, at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, I explored many questions as to the strength and structure of the Boko Haram terrorist group, their links to AQIM, sources of funding, recruitment and key operatives responsible for the onslaught against the Nigerian state. I contended at the time that the Nigerian intelligence services needs to deploy a comprehensive counter terrorism and foreign intelligence collaboration so as to curtail the attacks at the time, but those concerns and the attendant questions were never addressed. Had they been addressed, we would not have found ourselves in the current precarious circumstances, and having now to contend with the Islamic State’s influence.
Whether they are losing territory or not, the fact that over 10,000 young people from around the world are trooping to ISIS suggest a lot about its widespread global appeal.
In Nigeria, dozens of citizens have migrated to the Islamic state through Dubai-Turkey flight route, then onto Syria, with former Supreme Court Justice, Alhaji Uwais’s son, being the most high profile Nigerian to have embarked on the trip. And the grinding poverty and mass unemployment serves a greater appeal to the youths in the North East, and the border states with lax exit and entry points. Boko Haram is known to have paid conscripts from $50 to $500 per month to wage the holy war, and ISIS with millions of dollars in cash and revenue would pay more. The chronic underdevelopment in the North East and the neighboring countries, with vast ungoverned spaces, stands as a veritable ground for ISIS, in terms of training facilities, sanctuaries, supply routes, administration areas and more.
General Stanley Mcrystal (Rtd) of the US Army is reputed as one of the best Counter-Terror & Counter-Insurgency practioners in the world, according to Robert Gates. He arrived in Iraq in 2006, during the height of AQIP’s reign of terror to oversee the operations against the insurgent forces led by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. He attributed his success to the availability of resources such as ISR platforms and Joint Operations Analysis Unit, who were analyzing raw data generated by the ISR in the air, then feeding the intelligence to the special operators who acted almost immediately on such information. One of those hundreds of tip offs and efforts led to the assassination of Al-Zarqawi and hundreds of other targets.
Currently, Nigeria Airforce runs the ISR platforms in the North East, but they are simply not enough, because of the large swathe of territory that encompass over 3000km. To confront the imminent threats of ISIS in Nigeria, the military needs to deploy adequate resources of hi-tech gadgets such as drones in hundreds, helicopters and planes to cover the entire area of operations, including a special forces brigade and seasoned analysts. Only an efficient and effective border security program holds the key to stopping infiltration, and countering the overall objective of cross border attacks.
Buttressing a point, Prof Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, posited that groups like ISIS thrives amidst chaos and instability, for instance in Libya where a branch sprout or the Swat valley in Pakistan. Nigeria’s north east with Niger, Chad and Cameroon axis represent some of the most socio-economic unstable places in the world, and ISIS is bound to thrive in that region.
General David Patraeus rtd, a one time US Commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director, talked about Syria as a “geo-political Chernobyl” because as long as Syria is unstable and parts controlled by ISIS. Daesh would continue to extend terror and largely to the new found territories, in this case, new found territories such as Nigeria.
Nnamdi Anekwe-Chiva is a national security and counter terrorism expert. He tweets from @nnamdianekwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.