OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 26 October 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

21 October:

  • 7 Division in conjunction with 79 Composite Group, NAF MAIDUGURI launched an intelligence driven air ground assault on their camps in ALAGARNO Village, BORNO State. The 3 hour operation allegedly resulted in 37 enemy killed and an unknown number of wounded, 3 Hilux vehicles destroyed, along with an unknown amount of arms and ammunition and motorcycles. Aggressive patrolling has commenced in the area to seek out the insurgents.
  • 6 persons were arrested at MAIDUGURI International Airport for links to Boko Haram whilst returning from Hajj in Saudi Arabia. The suspects were allegedly on the security forces wanted list since February 2013
  • 4 people suspected of membership of Boko Haram were arraigned in Federal High Court, LAGOS, accused of plotting to attack KIRIKIRI MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON to free detained insurgents. The accused Adamu MOHAMMED, Mohammed MUSTAPHA, Bura HASSAINI and Mohammed IBRAHIM pled Not Guilty through an interpreter and were remanded in custody until trial December 12th.

23 October: 17 suspected Boko Haram members were arraigned at The Federal High Court, LAGOS, however the case was postponed till 27th November (3rd such postponement) due to an absence of legal representative for 5 of the accused-Ali MOHAMMED, Adamu KARUI, Ibrahim USMAN, Bala HARUNA and Idris ALI. Along with Mohammed MURTALA, Kadiri MOHAMMED, Mustapha DAURA, Abba DUGURI, Sanni ADAMU, Danjuma YAHAYA, Musa AUDU, Mati DAURA, Farouk HARUNA, Abdullahi AZEEZ, Ibrahim BUKAR and Zula DIANI are on trial on an 18 count charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism, etc, having been allegedly arrested in March with weapons and explosives in LEKKI and APAPA-IGANMU, Lagos

24 October:

  • The curfew in POTISKUM LGA, YOBE State has been amended to 9.00pm to 06.00am from 10.00pm to 6.00am due to an ongoing security operation
  • The Federal High Court, ABUJA reserved judgement in the trial of 3 LEBANESE suspects Mustapha FAWAZ, Abdallah TAHINI and Talal Ahmad RODA. They are being tried on a 16 count charge of terrorism and illegal importation of arms and ammunition following a discovery of a weapons cache in KANO, KANO State.
  • The Federal High Court, ABUJA reserved judgement in the case of the Mustapha UMAR, who is suspected of bombing the SOJ Plaza, KADUNA, KADUNA State housing This Day, The Moment and The Sun newspapers killing 10 people with a VBIED contained in 12 camp gas cylinders

25 October:

  • A 24 hour curfew has been imposed on YOBE State, following an insurgent attack in DAMATURU the state capital
  • Nigerian security forces in a series of air strikes and ground assaults against insurgent camps n the vicinity of BENISHEIK, BORNO State claim to have killed 74 insurgents and wounded an unknown number. Two soldiers were reported wounded

Situation Enemy Forces:

20 October: at least 9 insurgents armed with rifles attacked LOGOMANI Village, DIKWA LGA, BORNO State along the MAIDUGURI-DIKWA Road between 5.00am and 9.00am shooting dead 5 motorists and hacking 14 others to death, 10 others were wounded and 3 trucks burnt. The target area was said to be a rest stop for truck drivers and roadside brothel. The insurgents who were bearded and dressed in military type uniform reportedly fled when informed by phone that soldiers were en route and took money from survivors as well as allegedly kidnapping some of the prostitutes. Security forces claim to have killed 5 of the attackers.

21 October: gunmen attacked villages in KAWURI District and FORI along the MAIDUGURI-OBAMA Federal Highway of KONDUGA LGA, BORNO State killing 7 civilians and 3 vigilantes.  The attack took place around 3.00am with approximately 30 attackers mounted in 2 Toyota Hilux and motorcycles were armed with rifles, RPGs and IEDs and also burnt an unknown number of private houses, a clinic and a primary school following a failed vigilante attempt to attack a militant hide out

23 October: one man was killed and an Imam wounded in a shooting at a mosque in POTISKUM, YOBE State

24     October:

  • Insurgents launched an attack in the vicinity of RED BRICKS, DAMATURU, YOBE State from 5.30pm till midnight, starting at the NNPC Mega Station by, using small arms and IEDs.
  • At 6.30pm whilst the earlier attack was ongoing, approximately 50 insurgents attacked NASARAWA and MAISANDARI Wards and the MISEBIRI Police Station allegedly mounted in 3 Army green Toyota Hiluxs and then infiltrated through the bush to attack MOPOL 41 Base along GUJBA Road in DAMATURU, YOBE State using small arms, RPGs and IEDs bypassing military checkpoints and bases. Further attempts to penetrate the town were defeated by elements of 3 (Special Operations) Battalion and 232 Battalion although fighting was still reported at 8 hours later. The Residential and administrative parts of the base were burnt and the armoury allegedly breached. An MTN mobile phone mast used by MAIDUGURI citizens to make phone calls due to the lack of GSM coverage in BORNO State was also burnt down in the attack.  Two ambulances from the SANI ABACHA General Hospital were allegedly stolen by the insurgents as well as medical supplies. 21-35 insurgents were reported killed and 25 captured, 17 soldiers and 10 policemen were reportedly killed in action and 20 allegedly wounded. 3 enemy vehicles, 4 AK 47s, 1 FN FAL rifle, 1 RPG and RPG projectile, GPMG barrel, 709 rounds of assorted ammunition and several IEDs were captured

Situation External Forces:

23 October: The US Under Secretary of State Linda THOMAS-GREENFIELD in a video conference with US AFRICOM Commander Gen David RODRIGUEZ stated the US Government was concerned with the impact of Boko Haram in Nigeria and on its borders and would continue to engage with civil society on human rights she also urged the Federal Government to protect the civilian population as part of its counter terrorism effort

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained
NPF

10

0

0

NA

17  

22

0

Total NSF

27

22

0

Vigilantes

3

0

0

Insurgents

136

??

Male:  

31

Female:

0  

Civilian

27

11

0

 

Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash

 

5

0

709

??

3

0

1

0

 

Table 3 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent Incidents

 

IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping

0

0

0

3

2

0

0

1

 

Analysis:

Law and Order: this week has seen interesting developments with suspected Boko Haram and other terrorism trials progressing albeit fitfully with administrative hiccups and legal manoeuvres. The most pertinent fact is that all the cases involve actions outside the core North East Insurgency area.

It is a positive development that the other organs of the state such as law enforcement and the courts are being used as anti terror tools however the fact that in the most affected areas there is no visible recourse to law courts means that insurgents are faced almost solely with a choice of death at the hands of security forces or death at the hands of their fellow members if they attempt to surrender or escape.

It has been a persistent argument of this analyst that a fundamental element of the emergency laws must be the use of the legal system, with Fast Track Courts and specialist teams of judges, prosecutors, defenders and investigators who can swiftly process and try cases of captured and suspected terrorists. This presents wavering insurgents with a clear alternative to death and fighting such as prison in another part of the country, this can serve as an incentive to insurgents to defect. Whilst long prison sentences in a Nigerian jail might sound like a fate worse than death, it could be argued that roving the Savannah and desert under threat of death from the security forces discovery by vigilantes or torture and death by comrades is an infinitely worse experience.

The testimony of a captured terror suspect (alias ‘Omar’) interviewed by journalists gives insight  into the culture of fear and coercion that Boko Haram uses to recruit and maintain internal discipline. By creating a favourable alternative pathway for these insurgents many will have the courage to escape and surrender.

Battle for the Highways: the insurgency has reacted predictably by moving west from the target area of renewed offensive to Yobe State. What is surprising is that they have the desire and capability to launch an audacious attack against a well defended built up area. Again it is one of the fascinating twists of the insurgency. The key question is whether this was a deliberate long planned attack as part of their existing pattern or a desperate attempt to relieve pressure with a spectacular spoiling attack.

Examining the sequence of events helps in looking at this situation.

In reaction to the military offensive and the civilian vigilantes, Boko Haram was driven out of urban areas and has resorted to raiding and targeting rural communities and interdicting commercial traffic along the highways east- south east of Maiduguri. Their main effort has been spreading terror through murder and stealing supplies such as food and medicine. Abductions and theft of property have been reported as well.

All of this is logical (except the fairly barbaric murders), as they avoid confrontations with stronger forces, obtain supplies and have a disproportionate effect on the populace and tie up military resources securing a long, badly maintained road in difficult terrain.

Thus as long as they do not get fixed, either to a camp or during an attack they can more or less continue infinitely, moving and adapting. However vehicles however rugged have a logistics trails, they need fuel, lubricants and spare parts. Weapons need ammunition. And these supplies must come from somewhere, be kept somewhere and replenished regularly. Thus inevitably the insurgents will be fixed by their vehicles and the need to sustain them and their supply of weapons and ammunition.

Thus they are vulnerable to the type of air ground attacks the Nigerian security forces have been unleashing in the past week.

The military answer to this would be to disperse vehicles, cache weapons, fuel and other heavy stores and break into small mobile groups on foot.

The disadvantage of this is that these small groups would always be vulnerable to destruction by a larger force or could easily decide enough is enough and surrender or go home.

Under immense pressure in Borno, Boko Haram may have decided upon a ‘use it or lose it’ strategy and decided to use their dwindling and under attack forces to launch a spectacular operation which would hopefully force the security forces to divert troops away from strike operations and patrols and onto defending the major built up areas again.

Alternatively Boko Haram could be sufficiently well resourced (or reinforced from outside) that any losses due to the offensive can be easily absorbed and counter attacks such as these can be generated at will. This is of course the worst case scenario.

Irrespective the response to either scenario should be the same.

Using analysis of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, well supported infantry operations in areas where concentrations are detected. Aggressive patrolling by foot, vehicle and air along likely avenues of approach to the urban areas, aggressive patrolling around urban areas and patrol bases along the roads and borders.

Time will tell whether the security forces or the insurgents can resource and sustain the current tempo of operations and if not what next?

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About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
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