Mitigating Radicalism in Northern Nigeria
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC AFRICA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
Northern Nigeria has been the locus of an upsurge in youth radicalization and virulent militant Islamist groups in Nigeria since 2009. Nigeria s ranking on the Global Terrorism Index rose from 16th out of 158 countries in 2008 to 6th tied with Somalia by the end of 2011.1 There were 168 officially recorded terrorist attacks in 2011 alone. Bombings across the northeast prompted President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2013 to declare a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States. Many Nigerians have come to question whether the country is on the brink of a civil war.2 Prime among the groups behind this spike in violence is Boko Haram, a militant Islamist sect that seeks to impose shariah law throughout Nigeria. An air of apprehension now pervades daily life in northern Nigeria. Many are afraid to openly mention Boko Haram, whose name has become synonymous with violence and destruction. The group has launched hundreds of coordinated attacks across the northern region since July 2009 that have resulted in the deaths of over 6,000 people and the displacement of tens of thousands more. Boko Haram s targets include the security forces, Christians, and Muslims accused of cooperating with the government.3 It bribes children to report neighbors who are unsympathetic to the group and forces prisoners it frees from jail to join regardless of whether they share the group s ideology.4 Its numerous attacks have struck police stations, military facilities, churches, schools, beer halls, newspaper offices, and the United Nations building in the capital, Abuja. Ordinary citizens fear both Boko Haram and the state security forces, with the latter accused of human rights abuses. With each battle between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents, civilian casualties mount. When security forces redeploy elsewhere claiming to have repelled Boko Haram, the militants return, regroup, and seek revenge.
- Unconventional Warfare