Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

From Guerrilla Tactics to Outright Terrorism: A Study of Boko Haram's Synergy with Al-Qaeda Terrorist Network

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

From Guerrilla Tactics to Outright Terrorism: A Study of Boko Haram's Synergy with Al-Qaeda Terrorist Network

Article excerpt

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks no doubt, diminished America's sense of invincibility. Ever since, the United States has consistently targeted various clusters engaged in global Salafi jihad. This 9/11 phenomenon has impelled concerned world leaders to focus their attention on global terrorism. Quite obviously, the so-called 'war against terrorism' has never been this fierce. In Nigeria, there have been sporadic attacks staged by Boko Haram, its indigenous terrorists, which were largely ignored until recently when the group took an ominous turn to synergizing with al-Qaeda in the Maghrib. However, a critical study of development within Boko Haram in recent times reveals that the sect's goals and motives in comparison with other groups that were officially admitted into al-Qaeda, betray a disturbing similarity as well as similar time horizon. This paper believes that America should proactively engage in crafting a holistic policy both to dismantle and preempt the merger between the two sects. Nigerian leaders should be encouraged to adopt policies that would improve security and prevent the emergence of other such groups. Besides, the paper also contends that until previous terrorists and their official backers are dealt with, not only will indigenous terrorism continue in Nigeria, but will actually proliferate.


There have been numerous terrorist cataclysms in Nigeria since the 1980s. The description of these mass breakdowns of law and order as terrorist acts stems from the modus operandi of the dramatis personae. The various mayhems perpetrated by these local terrorists always portray the "use of violence and threats of violence... designed to cause dislocation, consternation and submission on the part of a target population or government."1 They systematically "create a state of fear, usually by the use or threat of use of symbolic acts of physical violence, to influence the political behavior of a given target group."2 In Nigeria, like their international counterparts, the terrorists engage in dastardly acts with impunity, without caring whose ox is gored.

The fact is, these terrorists have always successfully obfuscated their nefarious intent under the garb of religious fundamentalism. However, since their onslaught is often targeted at voiceless minorities, successive Nigerian governments have always been lukewarm towards measures that would stem this and other heinous crimes. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the acts of terrorism proliferate in Nigeria.

Although global terrorism extends far back into history, recent decades have seen a rise in the trend for several reasons. One is the overwhelming advantage in weapons that governments usually have over dissident groups. Because many governments are armed with aircraft and other high-tech weapons that are unavailable to opposition forces, it has often become nearly suicidal for armed dissidents to use conventional tactics. Second, terrorists' targets are now more readily available than in the past: people are more concentrated in urban areas and even in large buildings; there are countless airline flights; and more and more people travel abroad. Third, the mass availability of instant visual news through television and satellite communications makes it easy for terrorists to gain an audience.3 This is important because terrorism is not usually directed at its victims as such; rather, it is intended to frighten others. Fourth, technology has led to the creation of increasingly lethal weapons that terrorists can use to kill and injure a large number of people. These technological "advances" include biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons. Global terrorist attacks, it can be argued, have become a relatively regular event. In 2000, there were 423 international terrorist attacks-those that were carried out across national borders-and many other incidents of domestic terrorism.4

Conceptualizing Terrorism

The trouble with terrorism is that most people think they know what it is, but few can adequately define it. …

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