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Boko Haram: The Terrorists that are even too extreme for Al Qaeda!

Interesting Article: "Abduction of Girls an Act Not Even Al Qaeda Can Condone" by Adam Nossiter and David Kirkpatrick, Abuja, Published Wednesday, May 7th 2014.

An interesting article mentioned that Boko Haram, the cultlike Nigerian group that carried out the kidnappings, was rejected long ago by mainstream Muslim scholars and Islamist parties around the world for its seemingly senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians. But this week its stunning abduction appeared too much even for fellow militants normally eager to condone terrorist acts against the West and its allies. The dismay of fellow jihadists at the innocent targets of Boko Haram’s violence is a reflection of the increasingly far-flung and ideologically disparate networks of Islamist militancy, which now include the remnants of Bin Laden’s puritanical camps, Algerian cigarette smugglers and a brutal Somalian offshoot. Would you like to know more?


“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls,” said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “And Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them.” Boko Haram is in many ways an awkward ally for any of them. Its violence is broader and more casual than Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups. Indeed, its reputation for the mass murder of innocent civilians is strikingly inconsistent with a current push by Al Qaeda’s leaders to avoid such deaths for fear of alienating potential supporters. That was the subject of the dispute that led to Al Qaeda’s recent break with its former affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

What’s more, Boko Haram’s recruits and targets have always been purely local, not international. And the group is centered on a messianic leader who claims to speak with God and demands that its adherents surrender all their possessions to the group, resembling a cult, like Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, more than it does an orthodox Islamist movement. Their partnership demonstrates a centripetal force pulling together even disparate insurgencies against common foes. And, scholars say, Boko Haram now also represents a growing challenge to Al Qaeda as it seeks to cultivate more such affiliates among loosely Muslim or Islamist insurgencies across Africa, almost all of them far more brutally violent than even the acolytes of Bin Laden can accept.
 
First formed in the early 2000s, Boko Haram grew out of an ultraconservative Islamic movement of well-educated students. The group grew overtly political only later, under the leadership of its charismatic founder, Mohamed Yusuf. Its nickname in the African language of Hausa, Boko Haram, is usually roughly translated to mean that “deceptive” or “Western” education is “forbidden.” But scholars say that the phrase had a kind of double meaning that was at once religious and social in the context of northern Nigeria.

Western education was available only to a very small elite who typically traveled to British universities and then returned to rule from the capital over the impoverished North, and ending the tyranny of that elite was the main objective of Yusuf’s movement. Yusuf and Boko Haram tapped into growing anger among northern Nigerians at their poverty and lack of opportunity as well as the humiliating abuses of the government’s security forces, said Paul Lubeck, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies the group. At first, even as Boko Haram turned to violent opposition to the government, the group avoided civilian casualties.

That changed in July, 2009, after about 70 Boko Haram fighters armed with guns and hand grenades attacked a mosque and police station in the town of Bauchi. About 55 people were killed in the battle.

The next day, Nigerian security forces retaliated with a brutal crackdown that killed more than 700 people, including many innocent bystanders. Security officers paraded Yusuf before television cameras and then summarily executed him in front of a crowd outside a police station — an episode that the group’s adherents often recall with horror as the decisive moment in their turn to wider violence.

Three weeks later, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — originally an Algerian Islamist insurgency that found advantages in publicly linking itself to Al Qaeda’s infamy — issued a public statement reaching out to Boko Haram in a public expression of brotherly sympathy.

Boko Haram’s remaining members scattered to other African countries, where many scholars argue they would have received a welcome from Al Qaeda affiliates. The Algerian government has said that some of Boko Haram’s fugitive members received training in Algerian camps from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Boko Haram itself eventually circulated video footage that purported to show some of its members training in Somalia with fighters from the Al Qaeda affiliate there, the Shabab.
Professor Lubeck said other fragments of evidence have surfaced as well, such as cellphones belonging to Boko Haram fighters that were seized in a raid by the government of Niger.

But whether with help from Al Qaeda or other sponsors, Boko Haram soon returned to Nigeria far more sophisticated and better equipped. In late 2010, under the new leadership of Abubakar Shekau, formerly the group’s second in command, Boko Haram begun staging more lethal attacks. Instead of throwing hand grenades or gas-bombs, Boko Haram’s fighters began to conduct a campaign of assassinations by gunfire from motorcycles. (The government ultimately banned motorcycles form the areas where they were active.) They also drove pickup trucks mounted with artillery.

The vehicles, Nigerian officials say, were traded out of Libya after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Shekau, the leader who claimed to be in communication with God, said that the sole purpose of its violence was to demonstrate the incapacity of the Nigerian state. “Shekau initiated this brutal killing of innocent people,” Mr. Lubeck said. Shekau has also continued to express his admiration for Al Qaeda and its ideology. But it remained “an overwhelmingly locally focused group, recruiting locally,” Mr. Lubeck said, adding: “To say that it was part of the international Islamist conspiracy distorts things. There is no systematic or strategic connection.”

The militants have been blamed for thousands of deaths in the past five years. Two bombings within the past month at a bus station in the capital, Abuja, killed nearly 100 people.
In another daring operation, Boko Haram, on Monday night killed about 300 people in Gamboru Ngala, Borno State. Gamboru Ngala is a border town with Cameroon.

The Boko Haram insurgents also abducted 11 more girls in Warabe and Wala communities in the Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. The 11 girls were reportedly seized in Warabe and Wala when gunmen invaded the communities. Warabe is about 160 kilometers away from Maiduguri, the state capital.

The insurgents reportedly drove into Gamboru Ngala in armored vehicles. It was learnt that the insurgents, who seemed to have targeted a local market, shot sporadically at traders at the market before proceeding into the town to wreak more havoc. Gamboru is situated along Nigeria-Cameroon border and is the administrative headquarters of the Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State. It is about 200 kilometers from Maiduguri, the state capital city.

The attackers were armed with dangerous weapons comprising Armored Personnel Carrier, Improvised Explosive Devices, petrol bombs, assault rifles and Rocket Propelled Launchers.

On Tuesday, analysts said an announcement by the terrorist group Boko Haram earlier this week may have been timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum on Africa, a three-day event that begins Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria. It is the first time the Africa edition of the annual global forum will be hosted in Nigeria, an event that is supposed to shape global, regional and industry agenda towards the improvement of the state of the world through public-private sector cooperation.

The three-day forum is expected to attract all stakeholders including prospective foreign and local investors, captains of industry and, government officials, among others. (NAN).
Support from the international community was been swift, with Secretary of State John Kerry discussing the coordinated approach with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan by phone Tuesday.

We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of these young girls and we want to provide whatever assistance is possible in order to help for their safe return to their families," Kerry said at a news conference at the State Department in Washington. “Terror will not stop us from work," the Nigerian president said. "The act of terror in Africa is diversionary … organized by a group of people that don't want the continent to move forward. Whenever any country is seeing any sign of progress, you see these criminal elements that will come up to retard the country.”

This echoes support from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who stated this week that it would be a mistake for the United States to turn to isolationism to avoid involvement in the world's conflicts. "Turning inward, history teaches us, does not insulate us from the world's troubles. It only forces us to be more engaged later -- at a higher cost, at a higher cost in blood and treasure, and often on the terms of others," said Hagel.

Terrorists and insurgents are not fading away and that is one reason why the work of our Special Operations Forces is much needed and should be much admired. God Bless the men and women of the US SOF.  

References:
http://www.voanews.com/content/suspected-boko-haram-gunmen-kidnap-eight-more-girls-in-nigeria/1908567.html
http://www.voanews.com/content/defense-chief-hagel-warns-against-us-isolationism/1908809.html
http://www.punchng.com/news/boko-haram-kills-300-abducts-11-more-girls/
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/05/boko-haram-misleads-army-kills-300-fresh-borno-attack/
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/05/world-economic-forum-tight-security-abuja/

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