Boko Haram: Steady Micro-Attacks in Nigeria, Greater Attention from US

In between its major attacks, Boko Haram now carries out a steady stream of micro-attacks. These are often assassinations of security personnel, but the group also targets civilians and raids diverse targets (churches, markets, bars, etc). Recent micro-attacks include an assault on a senior police officer’s residence in Kano, the murder of a police corporal in Kano, killings of several civilians in Maiduguri, and the burnings of several schools in Borno State (of which Maiduguri is the capital).

The movement has also suffered losses: A secret bomb factory in Maiduguri exploded last week, killing three suspected sect members. Soldiers shot four other suspects in Maiduguri last week. Just yesterday soldiers shot three more. And the Nigerian press claims that Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, narrowly escaped capture in Kano, and that one of his wives was arrested, at least briefly.

It’s worth noting that efforts by security forces to neutralize the group can inadvertently stir up popular anger. After soldiers shot a motorcyclist in Kano this weekend, a group of protesters “marched through the streets, burning tyres and pelting soldiers with stones…They called for the dismantling of military checkpoints in the city.” The anger on display in Kano seems to reflect not only the immediate trigger of the shooting, but also a grievance concerning the military presence, and perhaps a deeper objection to how the military is handling the crisis overall.

The prolongation of Boko Haram’s uprising is having a number of domestic and regional effects that go beyond just security. The violence has disrupted the school year for thousands of children. Foreigners are fleeing Nigeria to neighboring countries as a result of security crackdowns. Human displacement, combined with border closures, is hurting neighboring economies.

The prolongation of the uprising is also attracting more and more attention from the United States. US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, in Nigeria yesterday, offered advice on how to deal with the crisis and said that the US is still pursuing plans to open a consulate in Kano. Security cooperation between the two governments continues. Back in Washington, Boko Haram is becoming a frequent topic at think tank events and conferences, for example the Heritage Foundation’s event “Boko Haram: An Overlooked Threat to U.S. Security,” which takes place today. I expect to see more events of this kind. The longer that the rebellion continues in Nigeria, the greater the number of voices in Washington that will say the movement is a danger to the US.

Finally, inside the Nigerian government, a special committee is reviewing the security apparatus. Their report is expected in May.

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9 thoughts on “Boko Haram: Steady Micro-Attacks in Nigeria, Greater Attention from US

  1. I don’t doubt that there is cause for alarm but so far Boko Haram hasn’t shown itself to be a group with international aims. It’s a major problem for Nigeria (and neighboring states) but unless U.S intelligence has found something disturbing it’s best to stay at just information sharing.

    • Gyre,

      Cause for alarm? About a thousand Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram and you say there is not cause for alarm?

      I get it. Your assumption is that this blog will only be read by Americans and the only view that counts is how Americans view a particular situation. From where I stand Boko Haram actually is a cause for deep concern and anybody who identifies with the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people should share that view.

  2. A bit to late for that. As far as I know, the US has already dispatched some soldiers – not for actual combat, mind you, but to consult with the Nigerian security forces. You know, to share the secret behind the “success” of US anti-terrorism strategy …

  3. I think discussion of a “homeland” threat from Boko Haram is alarmist and not particularly relevant at this time. Boko Haram has not proclaimed any global or even regional jihadist ambitions, and while yes, they have successfully attacked a western institution, it has been in Nigeria. Their threats against the west are targeted at those located in Nigeria. BH’s primary focus remains the Nigerian government and destabilizing the security environment. Meehan’s Subcommittee report was good in that it raised awareness about Boko Haram, but I think we tend to lump ever Islamist militant threat together and then figure out a way to make it a “threat to the homeland” so that our points are relevant to US foreign policy and domestic security audiences. I’m interested to know if anyone thinks there is an ACTUAL threat to the homeland from BH.

  4. Pingback: War Is Boring » Pete’s Africa Round-Up

  5. Committees and reports mean very little in Nigeria. They are often seen as a means of deflecting attention from a more important issue and “being seen to do something”. The report on the committee set up to investigate the post-election violence has been submitted and is yet to be made public. There is also no indication that it has been acted on (nobody has been implicated or arrested yet for the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians last April)

  6. Pingback: Nigeria: Government Proposes Dialogue with Boko Haram | Sahel Blog

  7. Nigeria Boko Haram is a very serious issue. It is inhuman, barbaric,anti religionand anti Nigeria. If solid and factual steps are not taken, it may lead and birth Sudan spit solution. One of the ways out is to. Trace and cut their source for fund.

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