Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Nigeria's Terrorist Threat: Present Contexts and the Future of Sub-Saharan Africa

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

Nigeria's Terrorist Threat: Present Contexts and the Future of Sub-Saharan Africa

Article excerpt

The most immediate threat to the security of Nigeria is the Islamist insurgency raging in its North-East region. Deadly attacks have killed a large number of people, devastated infrastructure, and hindered military success in this region and beyond. High ranking members of Al-Qaeda may have been harbored, and the insurgents are affiliated with various militant sects, who pose a threat to wider sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria. Tackling these regional terrorism networks requires reversing the present destabilization of Nigerian states. Presently, the regional governments attempt to pacify this threat in its stronghold of the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. This article takes a look at the present situation of the terrorist operations in the North-East region of Nigeria and their links with other Islamic or jihadist terrorist networks in the region and the future of the Africa sub-Saharan region.

INTRODUCTION

The jihad Islamist sect in North-East Nigeria, Jamaatu Ahlis Sunnah Laddaawatih Wal-Jihad, known as "Boko Haram," continues to gain notoriety for its violent campaign of terror. The sect has been unrelenting in its attacks as well as in its demands for the implementation of Shari'a law in Nigeria. This Boko Haram phenomenon has had its fair share of scholarly research, publicity, and commentaries, owing to its unprecedented and virulent campaign of terror in Nigeria, which has claimed the lives of thousands of people. The responses by the federal government and state governments in North-East Nigeria have been overwhelmingly local, poignant, military-driven, and with insidious consequences on the human rights of many helpless Nigerians who find themselves sandwiched between Boko Haram terrorism on the one hand and the abusive military response of the Nigerian security forces on the other.

While the internal dimension of Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria is alarming and merits in-depth attention, publicity and novel approaches geared at reducing the menace are highly needed. Its growing external linkage with like-minded groups across the sub-Saharan African region and elsewhere in the Maghreb indicates the reach and operational capabilities of the sect.1 This suggests that the radical Islamic ideology of the sect is in sync with other like-minded sects in the sub-Saharan African countries, especially in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Mali where Boko Haram was reported to have taken refuge, owing to its standoff with the security forces in Nigeria. This growing transnational dimension of Boko Haram terrorism could lead to a build-up of its operational capabilities for large-scale attacks that could pose an impending threat to the peace and stability of the sub-Saharan African region. To be sure, Boko Haram and its alleged splinter sect, JAMB (Ansaru), have both claimed responsibility for the attack of foreigners in Cameroon and Nigeria as a way of expressing their disdain, even with repulsion, to the French-led and West African military intervention against their colleagues in Northern Mali. This intervention might have helped to bring some semblance of peace in the North region of Mali. There are fears that the radical Islamists in Mali are regrouping and changing operational tactics in the vast ungoverned sub-Saharan African region. It has been alleged that the Malian insurgents recently have aided and abetted terrorist attacks in Niger. The possibility that these radical Islamic sectss would spread further afield in the subSaharan region and beyond is highly feasible, but grim for the stability of sub-Saharan African region, which, since the end of the Cold War, has continued to wrestle with serious security crises.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorism has been overwhelmingly local, targeting innocent civilians, public places, government officials and security forces. Nevertheless, the sect's shared Islamic ideological belief and modus operandi like other groups across the sub-Saharan African region is not to be underestimated in finding solutions to the mayhem, which must transcend the use of the military operations and involve the cooperation of the sub-Saharan African governments to experiment with more political options and developmental pathways for the region and its populace. …

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