Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nigerian hostage rescue failure: Some thoughts

First of all, its clearly terrible for the families of Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara. All my condolences go out to them.

The BBC's Gordon Corera is saying that sources tell him that the kidnapping was carried out by Boko Haram. He says that a "splinter cell with strong links to al Qaeda".

The people I speak to are unclear on the factionalisation of Boko Haram. Some say they are all under one command, through a 30 member Shura Council, and that there are no factions within the organisation.

However, it is my understanding that the organisation operates with a cell structure, so the members of the Shura Council run essentially 30 operations.

Other decisions are made at an executive level, by Abubakar Shekau, without reference to the Shura Council.

The group has had factional fights. There have been beheadings and killings within the organisation as it purged itself of members who betrayed them, or were too moderate.

It is possible that there are cells who look outward, away from the more parochial concerns of the group.

After all, the group bombed the UN compound in August 2011.

However, most researchers on Boko Haram point out the focus of their demands have been on the Nigerian government, police and local religious leaders, and little rhetoric aimed at international institutions.

Its my view that Boko Haram have proved themselves to be adaptable in the prosecution of their anger, widening the nature of people it is righteous to kill to include anyone they consider to be an "enemy".

Observers have been very reluctant to pin Boko Haram within the al Qaeda framework, rightly, because there are doubts about the nature of al Qaeda in this region. As one said to me "what is al Qaeda anyway?"

The question is how long can the significance of a connection be rejected? If there is a group perpetrating attacks, suicide bombings, kidnaps, and the like, in other words behaving like al Qaeda has done, what difference does it make that we consider them to be a different organisation?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tweet Follow @getwalker