January 05th, 2019
AFP interviewed Yan St-Pierre on the return of Boko Haram’s ISWAP militants to northeastern Nigeria.
The increase in arms-trafficking in sub-Saharan African has also allowed ISWAP to acquire “more sophisticated” equipment, most notable from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East via Sudan, according to Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism expert with MOSECON, a Berlin-based security consultancy.
For security expert St-Pierre, IS military defeats in Iraq and Syria, and the group’s expansion in the Sahel region and the Sahara, has “considerably” improved the mobility of militant fighters in Africa. The analyst said ISWAP has conducted an intensive recruitment campaign in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries such as Niger and Chad for six months, where its radical imams present the jihadist group as a “credible and legitimate” alternative to government.
“ISWAP fighters have focussed on military bases and what they consider to be the symbols of oppression and government repression,” security consultant St-Pierre said. As a result, civilians are often locked up in camps for displaced people in areas under tight army control, but a semblance of normal life has returned in areas under Islamist militant influence. “Where the army ordered the markets shut down and supply lines cut, they have restructured trade” in fishing and farming, which are the principal sources of revenues for the region, the MOSECON consultant said. The new strategy of winning support of local populations is much more dangerous than militant chief Shekau’s old tactics in the face of the Nigeria’s army’s impotence, he said.
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