Because they engage in kidnapping, they exchange prisoners for money. It’s possible that the kidnappers in the North are members of Boko Haram. Also, they collect protection fees from individuals who do not want to be kidnapped
The United Nations Security Council report on the state of terrorist groups in the Levant (Syria and Iraq), Middle East, Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, Central and South Asia elicited diverse reactions in Nigeria. Prominence was given to the speculation that the Federal Government parted with huge sums as ransom to secure the release of 105 Dapchi girls. However, an in-depth examination of the report proves that there are many evidence that point to the expansion of the activities of terror groups, including Boko Haram, and their mutation to the extent that they are outwitting government’s measures. Below are 20 of such strategies:
1. Fighters returning from Iraq and Syria under ISIL have enhanced the capacity of local terror groups operations, providing leadership and boosting their strategies.
2. Younger elements are taking over the leadership of terror groups. E.g Osama bin Laden’s son has emerged, just as Muhammad Yusuf’s son is leading ISWA in Nigeria and West Africa.
3. In many towns and cities where terror groups have been neutralised, there have emerged what is called flat hierarchy. There small cells continue to operate, carrying out operations without a direct instruction from the central leadership.
4. Terror groups now use social media and encryption. Through these they silently send targeted messages to recruits into the groups.
5. They distribute their instructional materials through videos on the Internet. The videos explain various ways of making weapons and how to carry out attacks.
6. They have relocated to deserts where there is lack of governance. For instance, ISIL operates from a desert in northern Iraq while Boko Haram has taken over the Lake Chad area across West African States.
7. The groups target natural resources. ISIL goes after oil and gas. It is feared that Boko Haram targets oil deposits in North-East, hence the attack on NNPC exploration team last year.
8. Funds still flow from ISIL to its branches across the world, as the sect wants to maintain a global brand through their active presence in various parts of the world.
9. These groups now engage in legitimate businesses in lucrative sectors, using fronts that freely operate in the economy. They could be motorcyclists, cattle herders, bureau de change operators, transporters, and sellers of farm produce.
10. Because of the tight security in urban centres, terror groups have migrated to rural areas where there is lack of governance. There they recruit minors and youths, convert the peasants and entrench their authority.
11. The terror groups engage in illicit weapons trading, especially in the Sahel region. Boko Haram could be the source of weapons for militant herdsmen who have freely terrorised parts of Nigeria in recent times. They have access to weapons in the volatile but ungoverned Sahel region, so they trade in them.
12. They aid smugglers, including human traffickers who are afraid of taking official routes because they could be arrested by security personnel. These terror groups know the unofficial routes in villages and deserts. They make money by aiding smugglers on their way to Libya and other destinations.
13. Terror groups penetrate the military, police and government. They use insiders to gather intelligence information before they engage in their deadly operations.
14. Because they engage in kidnapping, they exchange prisoners for money. It’s possible that the kidnappers in the North are members of Boko Haram. Also, they collect protection fees from individuals who do not want to be kidnapped.
15. They tax farmers, herders and shop owners.
16. They are supported by the local people, who are generally loyal to terror groups and give them intelligence information concerning the operations of security agencies.
17. They now use the following guerrilla tactics: snipers, IEDs, diversionary attacks, drones, underground tunnels, fox holes and human shields.
18. Terror groups now target impressionable minors for indoctrination and as child soldiers.
19. They also trade in hard drugs.
20. In remote areas, they continue to threaten teachers, policemen, Christian preachers and traditional rulers, etc.
The ball is in the court of government agencies and security outfits to checkmate these approaches, if the fight against Boko Haram would yield the desire results in Nigeria. It is evident from the above that the activities of militant herdsmen may be a new frontier of Boko Haram in Nigeria.