OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 16 November 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

12 November:

  • President of the Federal Republic of NIGERIA, Goodluck JONATHAN sent a report to the National Assembly, on the security situation in BORNO, YOBE and ADAMAWA States to buttress his request for the extension of the State of Emergency. Written by the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen Azubuike IHEJIRIKA, the specific contents were not disclosed
  • Several hundred villagers in from BITIKU, IMIRSA and GHANSA Villages, MADAALI LGA, ADAMAWA State, have fled MICHIKA LGA HQ fearing possible Boko Haram attacks

13 November:

  • The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that 37, 332 people fleeing from BORNO, YOBE and ADAMAWA States in NIGERIA have been registered as refuges in DIFFA, NIGER. Of these 29,000 are Nigerien, the rest Nigerian, Aid workers are providing food and water
  • The House of Representatives has invited the service Chiefs to brief them on the current security situation in BORNO, YOBE and ADAMAWA States.

14 November:

  • FRANCE’s Foreign Minister Laurent FABIUS reports that Boko Haram trained with AQIM in Northern MALI, according to documents recovered in the IFOGHAS Mountains, in northern MALI, by French forces earlier this year. The nature of the training, duration and exact time period were not specified.  
  • Nigerian Ambassador to the US Ade ADEFUYE has said the Government opposed the designation of Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation as it ‘would send wrong signals to the outside world’ and ‘… Nigerians might be subjected to some unpalatable experiences, such as horrendous searches at US entry ports..’
  • Elements of 7 Division killed 9 insurgents in fighting in DAMBOA LGA, BORNO State. 1 soldier was wounded in the operation in the vicinity of RIMANTI and ALLAGAMO Villages around midnight to clear camps in the SAMBISA Forests. 2 pickup trucks were destroyed whilst 2 motorcycles, 1 pickup truck and an unspecified amount of ammunition recovered

15 November:

  • Mustapha UMAR was convicted of one charge under the Terrorism Prevention Act (Amended) of 2011, in the Federal High Court, ABUJA of the 26 April 2012 bombing of the SOJ Plaza, KADUNA, KADUNA State causing 3 deaths and several injuries. He was sentenced to life with hard labour and a fine of N150m. The conviction was based on a confession to the police and the testimony of ten police officers despite UMAR pleading Not Guilty.
  • The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement stating the Federal Government welcomed the designation of Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations by the US State Department and called on other countries of the world to follow suit
  • Elements of 7 Division raided a camp in the vicinity of BITA Town in the GWOZA Hills, BORNO State near the CAMEROUN Border killing 20 insurgents and destroying scores of vehicles and 50 motorcycles. 1 soldier was killed and 3 wounded. 7 Division supported by the NAF is conducting follow up operations.
  • French hostage Francis COLLOMP reportedly escaped from captivity during an Army operation to free him in ZARIA. The 63 year old wind turbine engineer was kidnapped in KATSINA State on 19 December 2012 by suspected Ansaru militants

 Situation Enemy Forces:

10 November: insurgents armed with rifles and mounted in 2 Toyota Hilux pick ups, 3 buses and over 30 motorcycles attacked BDAGU, IZGE, HARTSA and YAZZA in GWOZA, DAMBOA and ASKIRA-UBA LGA, BORNO State. The attacks were said to have lasted till 13 November resulting in 162 civilian dead and 40 houses burnt. 3 insurgents were reportedly killed in a counter attack by villagers from

14 November:

  • A French priest Father Georges VANDENBEUSCH has been kidnapped in the vicinity of KOZA, Northern CAMEROUN, approximately 30km from the NIGERIA border by approximately 15 armed men on foot. He was working in his parish providing shelter to refugees from the insurgency in NIGERIA
  • The leader of Ansaru, Abu Usama AL ANSARI released an Eid al Adha statement online to jihadist forums, describing Taliban leader Mullah OMAR and Emir of the Believers/ Commander of the Faithful and praising the head of al Qaeda and extending greetings to al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as well as MUJAO, AQIM, al Shabaab and

15 November: Boko Haram claims responsibility for the abduction of Father VANDENBEUSCH in Northern CAMEROUN, via a message to reporters in MAIDUGURI. Stating they acted in collaboration with Ansaru and it was to protest the detention of their fighters in CAMEROUN

Situation External Forces:

13 November: the UNITED STATES State Department designated Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organisations under Section 210of the US Immigration and Nationality Act and Designated Global Terrorists under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained
NPF

0

0

0

NA

1

4

0

Total NSF

0

??

0

Vigilantes

0

0

0

Insurgents

 32

??

Male:  

 0

Female:

0  

Civilian

162  

??

0  

 

 

 

Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash

 

0  

0

0

0

1

2

0

0

 

Table 4 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent Incidents

 

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

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

1

 

Analysis:

Punching up: in the world of US television when a smaller or less popular TV programme ‘takes on’ or challenges a more popular one, in order to goad them into responding and thus giving the challenger (through the spat exposure) to their larger audience pool it is called ‘punching up’.

The actions of Boko Haram whilst barbaric and lethal; are internationally, regionally or even nationally insignificant.

Boko Haram does not have the capacity to take and hold territory or define no go areas for the security forces. They can cause difficulties and casualties to the security forces, threaten and harm the civil populace but they cannot deny territory to the security forces.

Boko Haram does not have a political wing or an affiliated socio-cultural group that subscribes to its ideology that can influence the law or mould society in its image.

Boko Haram does not have popular support beyond coercion as the Civilian JTF phenomenon demonstrates.

In other words Boko Haram does not have the ability to impose its will by political, military or social means on any part of the Federation or the Federal Government.

This insignificance must be compared to MEND for example who threatened Nigeria’s oil production, or even non violent movements like Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) or Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) which although non violent have/ had sufficient mass support or local sympathy and fairly logical aims to present a relevant case for themselves to a local and international audience.

All of these groups possessed the capability through military or socio political means to threaten the existence of Nigeria. Boko Haram does not. The most successful of these groups (MEND) used military means buttressed by a genuine grievance and an international sensitive campaign to successfully confront the Nigerian state (successful at least for certain individuals).

Boko Haram has significantly failed to attract much sympathy from Northerners or Kanuris in particular, Northern Muslims, Muslims in Western Nigeria or the Islamic world in general. The jihadi world and ‘chatosphere’ has not been filled with claims of Boko Haram derring do, or even the normal accompaniant to jihadi campaigns of videos (genuine or fabricated) of persecution by the Western/ Crusader/ apostate state. The international media has barely focussed on Boko Haram, helped by the remoteness and obscurity of their chosen area of operations, their opaqueness and lack of clear narrative, while al Shabaab, AQIM, MUJAO etc have reams of research and reports dedicated to them internationally, Boko Haram barely raises interest beyond West Africa. A female abductee relates how the fighters in the group she was in cheered every time they heard Boko Haram mentioned on the VoA or BBC

This inferiority complex that manifested itself in the barbarity of their attacks and video rants has finally been rewarded by an official nod from the US designating Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. ANSARU has already released a video to the jihadist forum praising figures such as Mullah Omar and Ayman al Zawahiri. Shekau will inevitably follow suit.

The effect of this is severalfold.

Friendly:

  • The designation frees up alot of US Law Enforcement tools to assist Nigeria combat Boko Haram. However as there is no evidence that they receive significant support or funding from areas that the US has influence on.
  • It gives the Nigerian military to certain US Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, hopefully exposure to these assets and products will further develop Nigerian capabilities in this field.
  • It gives Nigeria access to US/ NATO training and experience built up from operations in Afghanistan. I would suggest that the key should be on COIN specific leadership training for junior commanders and field officers, as well as training in basic low level drills and tactics, training in the use of air power in a COIN context, assistance in developing the indigenous maintenance capability for air frames but most importantly developing the full spectrum capability of both kinetic and non kinetic effects from psy ops, to media ops to stabilisation etc.
  • Veering slightly into the realms of speculation hopefully the US will start asking very searching questions of politically exposed persons with large, unexplained sources of income.

Enemy:

  • Operationally improved electronic and signal intelligence and improved training for security forces might lead to quicker reaction to insurgent attacks but it is unlikely that there will be a decisive influx of means and materiel that will threaten the relatively low tech, locally recruited and funded groups Boko Haram or Ansaru.
  • Boko Haram has finally been taken seriously by a major power. They now have the requisite bragging rights within the jihadi community. I believe they will try to use this to assist fund raising in the Middle East and try and align themselves with traditional US frenemies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, either officially or through the multiple private sponsors, who seem to have nothing better to do than sponsor terrorists.

Likewise Boko Haram has been unable to present a romantic narrative to the vast Nigerian/ African or Muslim diaspora, has failed to attract disaffected youths from abroad in the manner of the Algerian or Somali groups. This is still unlikely to change as to the best of this observers knowledge there is no support network extending to the west or to the Gulf states that a foreign sympathiser could get into. Jihadi culture like much in modern society is a populist consumer culture, aspiring jihadis will identify with the most popular, easy to understand causes. It is instructive that the Woolwich murder suspects and Underwear Bomber although of West African ancestry did not even consider jihad in Mali, Nigeria or the Sahel but gravitated straight to the popular Somali route.

Conclusion

Taken holistically one must weigh up the pros and cons of this action. Operationally it will have very little direct effect on Boko Haram financing or operations but it does bring a very bright and searching spotlight on financial dealings in Nigeria.

As a significant proportion of this financial activity is a result of crime or corruption, this could have an interesting second or third order effect on governance and the economy. A positive outcome would be that the added scrutiny would deter politically exposed persons from corruption and from depositing misappropriated funds outside the country. This could incentivise them to engage in meaningful development projects or at least invest in local companies and projects that would benefit the public. The other extreme would be that these personalities would take the law enforcement actions as a declaration of war and throw their lot in with insurgents and criminal elements in order to secure and hold political power that they can use to shield themselves from scrutiny.

It is the opinion of this observer that the only overwhelming existential threat to Nigeria is poor governance and corruption. Virtually every problem bedevilling the country has a fairly straightforward practical solution. If we start seeing prosecutions and investigations of politically exposed figures it will cause a major rethink that might change (hopefully for the better) Nigeria’s strategic outlook

Papillion:  Francis Collomp will celebrate his 64th birthday at home with his family. The French engineers escape has been described as ‘007’ esque in that he slowly weakened his cell door and then escaped whilst they were praying and then trekked until he found a motorcycle taxi to take him to a police station. This case is interesting in the context of general French actions in the region and the recent spate of releases and kidnaps. There are currently 3 French hostages in the Sahel 1 in Nigeria and 2 in Mali. Since 2011 19 have been abducted, 12 freed, and 5 killed. It is estimated that the kidnappers have received €145m in ransom payments. So this is a fairly profitable business model.

Monsieur Collomp is an extremely brave and lucky man, to have come out his terrible ordeal alive and in good health. There is no reason to doubt the story of his escape or speculate that his employers might have paid a ransom, but it is interesting that Ansaru that has been fairly well decimated in the recent past has apparently resurfaced, working not just in conjunction with Boko Haram whom they hold in a certain amount of disregard but taking another French hostage just as this one escaped. This one being a priest, it is highly unlikely that the Catholic Church or the French government would pay a ransom, but there is still some commercial and political value in holding him.

What this does show is that at least operationally Ansaru and Boko Haram can put aside their differences and work together, whilst an ostensibly menacing sign, it could also be an indicator of the relatively straightened conditions both groups fins themselves in. Boko Haram does not have the expertise to carry out these kidnaps for ransom, and Ansaru no longer appears to have the muscle or structure to operate independently. Although the split never became violent, fairly strong words have been used even as recently as the 14th November message.

It is reasonable to speculate that these groups under severe pressure have patched up their differences for these operations in order to raise funds directly through ransom and gain further attention and prestige (which again can relate to funding). Ansaru’s links lie more with North Central and the Middle Belt, how much of these links and networks remain intact remains to be seen but foreigners in these areas might want to read this first. Or move.

Advertisements

About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s