Quick Items: Boko Haram and al Shabab


As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on Boko Haram’s increasing sophistication (and the question of who leads the movement), we have this from AP:

Posters by the Boko Haram sect appeared at key intersections in the city of Maiduguri this week, bearing the name of Imam Abubakar Shekau, the group’s de facto leader. The two top corners of the posters bore a symbol of an opened Quran, flanked on each side by Kalashnikov assault rifles and a flag in the middle — mirroring of the logo of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

The message warned the public against assisting the police or going near soldiers guarding the town at night. The message also acknowledged a recent reward offered for information leading to the arrest of suspected sect members.

“Any Muslim that goes against the establishment of Sharia (law) will be attacked and killed,” the message read.

I am not convinced that there are serious ties between Boko Haram and AQIM, despite the affinities each might proclaim for the other. I am convinced that Boko Haram is learning how to use propaganda as part of an integrated, long-term guerrilla strategy.


Chatham House has issued a new report, “Yemen and Somalia: Terrorism, Shadow Networks and the Limitations of State-building.” One of the report’s central conclusions is that “both AQAP and al-Shabaab have developed successful narratives around injustice that are not being addressed by existing Western interventions. On the contrary, Western policies are contributing to a sense among some Yemenis and Somalis of being ‘under attack’ and are drawing them towards radicalization and militancy.”

VOA has more on the report, including interviews with Chatham House analysts.

I hope to read the full report this weekend, but my initial impression is that it could definitely spark some new debates and new thinking about Western approaches to southern Somalia. If you read it, let us know your reaction in the comments.