6,000 so-called Islamic State (ISIS) members that were dislodged in Syria and Iraq have all relocated to the Sahel portion in Africa. If we cannot restrict these various dreaded terrorist groups now, there may not be a country called Nigeria in the nearest future. These terrorist groups are threats to 2019 general elections. How do you conduct elections in a country that is being terrorized constantly by these various militant groups? We must act now before 6,000 ISIS fighters overrun West Africa.
Up to 6,000 Africans who fought for the ISIS jihadist group in Iraq and Syria could return home, the African Union’s top security official warned late last year, calling on countries to prepare for the threat. Smail Chergui, the AU’s commissioner for peace and security, said African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants. “There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East,” Chergui told a meeting in Algiers, according to the Algeria Press Service news agency. “The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and intense co-operation between African countries,” he said. Tens of thousands of foreign fighters joined the Sunni extremist group after it seized vast swathes of Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate in 2014. But the group has suffered a host of losses to both its territory and military capabilities in the last year. Terrorism is one of the biggest crimes against humanity. Every such crime deserves to be named appropriately, and nations experiencing such owe it to their citizens to act swiftly and decisively against terrorists.
The so-called ‘foreign fighters’ – African citizens trained in Islamic State terror camps – have returned to Africa and pose a “completely new challenge. Nigeria is currently facing terror threat in the last three years. There are concrete indications that terrorists are systematically using the stream of herdsmen to come into Nigeria undetected. We can expect [ISIS] or other religious terror groups to stage an attack in Nigeria with the aim of achieving mass casualties among the civilian population and that the risk of attacks by individuals has also not diminished.”
Nigeria and other West Africa countries waited for more than 6,000 ISIS that returned from Syria and Iraq to invade them despite the warning from Africa Union in September, 2017. The attack at Metele village in Guzamala Local Government area of Borno State happened because West African countries are not prepared to fight ISIS. The Islamic State in West Africa ISIS claimed responsibility for five recent attacks which it said resulted in 118 casualties. The recent attack is a fallout of the deterioration of security on the Nigeria-Chad border that has led to the recently increased Boko Haram terrorism in the area.
There is a rumour that Nigeria has problem with Chad in the Multi National Joint Task Force put together to secure Lake Chad basin area and repel Boko Haram terror attacks against all the countries around Lake Chad. Republic of Chad, Niger and Mali have internal security challenges and this was reportedly led to their pulling out of troops around Lake Chad. The lacuna is being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists who go in and out of Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Chad and Cameroun to launch terrorist attacks. This is a clear illustration of the fact that terrorism is beyond national borders and West Africa countries never prepared for 6,000 ISIS fighters that came from Syria and Iraq.
The reported death toll is among the highest since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015 and comes as the country prepares for elections in three months. The worst losses came when militants overran a military base in the village of Metele in the north-eastern state of Borno. The area is the centre of an insurgency waged by Boko Haram, which was founded nine years ago to bring strict Islamic law to swaths of Nigeria, and a second newer group linked to Islamic State.
Islamic State said it was responsible for the Metele attack and claimed to have killed at least 40 Nigerian soldiers. The increase in violence in north-east Nigeria follows a power struggle among militant leaders. In the first major rift, the Isis-linked group split from the one led by Boko Haram’s veteran leader, Abubakar Shekau, after arguments over his indiscriminate targeting of civilians in raids and suicide bombings. The Nigerian army has been hit by a series of mutinies as soldiers refuse deployments to the frontline in the north-east, saying they lack basic equipment and supplies, including adequate weapons and ammunition.
I was expecting West African countries to deploy satellites and online platforms to track the returning ISIS fighters from Syria and Iraq. Recent killing of Nigerian soldiers is a manifestation that we did not prepare to tackle ISIS fighters after more than one year of warning of the returning jihadists to West Africa. I am concerned about terrorism not just within our borders, we have also seen the influence of terrorists across borders and how terrorist organisations have cooperated with each other. We are aware, for instance, that some within our own borders are cooperating with ISIL and we think that this sort of evil collaborations must have a response from countries that share similar experiences and can present a credible force against terrorists.
Terrorism is a major problem and perhaps the most significant problem that the free world will face in the coming years. Boko Haram new ties send a strong message to countries affected by the sect. It is now more imperative for countries affected by the sect to join forces in the bid to counter such strong networking among terrorists.
There is a link with the unprecedented increase in the terror threat with the ongoing violence in Nigeria. These worries are substantiated and confirmed after several killings. Terrorism is one of the biggest crimes against humanity. Every such crime deserves to be named appropriately, and nations experiencing such owe it to their citizens to act swiftly and decisively against terrorists. What we have experienced so far with terrorism and it is high time government handled it with the seriousness required for such a grave situation not only to protect the lives and properties of her innocent citizens, but also to preserve the tribal identity.
Donald writes from Benin City firstname.lastname@example.org