Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is it Boko Haram who kidnapped Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara?

View Nigeria in a larger map

The Nigerian government have confirmed that the raid took place in Sokoto state.

They've not said if it took place in Sokoto city itself, but its pretty likely that it would have been there. My guess is its easier to hide two hostages in a large town than it is in a remote country area, but we don't know that for sure.

The location of this raid is very important. If you look at the map above, you might see what I mean.

Had it been in Maiduguri, there could be little question that this was a raid on a Boko Haram operation. A likely scenario to my mind would have been that the men were taken hostage in Birnin Kebbi by some opportunists and sold to Boko Haram.

However, now we know this raid took place in Sokoto state, I'm going to say that the connection to Boko Haram is still questionable.

The map above shows the physical separation in the grouping of the incidences of Boko Haram activity and this kidnap (the two placemarks on the top left).

Sokoto is very close to the border with Niger. There have been several kidnappings along the Niger/Mali axis, including this one of French citizens Antoine de Leocour and Vincent Delory in January last year.

This it seems their kidnap and murder was claimed by a group claiming to be Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that these are different organisations, operating in the Sahel, rather than nationalistic organisations operating within the borders of different countries.

The BBC are now reporting in their bulletins that its a matter of fact that Boko Haram carried out this kidnapping. I'm not so sure its that cut and dried.

Why is it important? Well, I certainly don't think that I have to clear Boko Haram of anything. In a sense it doesn't really matter if they did it or not, so bloody are their hands.

However it is important to understand the internal workings of these groups and if we are going to follow them, we should know what we are following, and what we aren't.

And if it was out of Boko Haram's field of operation... doesn't that mean we could have two groups operating in Nigeria now?

Scary stuff.

(The map itself is a work in progress, I'm going to keep working on it, adding attacks as they happen.)

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