|Whither Boko Haram?|
|[THENATIONONLINENG.NET] So, is alive and well? Not quite.|
For one, the frontal attacks on big towns and cities, with the anarchists thumping their noses against Nigeria's much-vaunted federal might has fizzled out. So has the lunatic boasts of Abubakar Shekau or his corresponding ghosts, as he bobbed up from yes-he's-dead-no-he's-not-dead sickening tales from the presidency, and its army high command.
But the threat seems to have retreated to the pristine hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, of Boko Haram's battle-entry strategy, before it was allowed to festered by an apologetic and hesitating presidency. That a DPO reportedly lost his life in the Adawama attack echos those dire beginnings, when Boko Haram on Okada would attack police posts, kill luckless in there and set free detainees in the facilities' cells.
Yet, between January 2015 and January 2016, Boko Haram has been so heavily degraded that talks about mass resettlement of the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) don't sound so fantastic and far-fetched again.
If Hardball were even to be more date-dramatic, he would insist that in seven months, a sure-footed and determined government has all but checkmated a seven-year insurgency, that looked like raging undeterred for no less than another seven years, at the very least!
But if the media remains sceptical at President Buhari's claim that the war against Boko Haram had been substantially won, it is because humans are basically pain-avoiding; a traumatised people, even more so. That would explain the seeming waywardness and obduracy of the Biblical Israelites who, after being saved from Egyptian tyranny, en route to the promised land, would forget the last celestial munificence, no matter how grand, and scream at Jehovah to return them to Egypt, rather kill them all in the desert between Egypt and Canaan.
Of course, the 15 killed in the latest Adamawa attack are humans with flesh and blood, families and loved ones. They are not just mere stats to be compared and discounted. That means the war won't be fully won, until every inch of Nigerian territory is safe from Boko Haram's plague.
Still, Nigerians cannot afford to be as obdurate and stiff-necked as the Israelites of old. We should applaud the government to more success, when it is doing well, just as we reserve the right to excoriate it, when it falters.
On Boko Haram, the Buhari Presidency has done well. But it should not rest until those blood-sucking criminals are totally sacked from our land.
|Boko Haram Kill Seven in Suicide Attack, Raid|
|[AnNahar] have mounted their first attacks since Nigeria's government declared them "technically" defeated, killing seven people in a raid and , residents told AFP Wednesday.|
The attacks happened on Tuesday in the northeastern state of Borno, near the Islamists' Sambisa Forest hideout, where the army is looking to flush out remnants of the rebel group.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who has made crushing the rebellion a priority, in December said a sustained counter-offensive had reduced the group's ability to strike effectively.
The first attack happened in Izgeki village, said one resident, who gave his name as Isyaku, from the town of Mubi in neighboring Adamawa state.
"I received information from my relatives who fled the attack... that some Boko Haram on bicycles attacked Izgeki across the river from Izghe on Tuesday morning where they killed two people.
"The attack forced villagers to cross the river into Izghe. The pursued them. One of them who had a suicide belt on him near the market, killing five people."
Izghe was previously attacked in February 2014 where more than 100 people were killed as the rebels torched homes, opened fire and set off explosives.
Thousands of residents fled the attack into Adamawa towards the town of Madagali and elsewhere but following the army's recapture of territory, some managed to return and begin reconstruction.
Izghe is in the district of Gwoza, which Boko Haram captured in August 2014 and which the group's shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau declared the center of its self-styled caliphate.
Ayuba Chibok, an elder in the town of the same name, said there was also an attack in the nearby village of Nchiha at about 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) on Tuesday.
"Luckily no-one was hurt but they (Boko Haram ) looted food and burnt a large part of the village," he added. Residents managed to flee.
Boko Haram kidnapped some 276 girls from their school in Chibok in April 2014 in a daring raid that captured world attention. Fifty seven escaped soon afterwards but 219 are still being held.
|Boko Haram 'Most Wanted' Poster Yields First Arrest|
|[AnNahar] Nigeria's military has said it has made its first arrest as a result of publishing a list of the 100 "most wanted" suspects.|
Army Colonel Sani Usman said in an emailed statement late on Sunday that one man whose photograph featured on the poster was spotted and held at Abuja airport.
"Chindo Bello was apprehended by aviation security as he was boarding (an) Aero Contractors' flight to Lagos," he said.
No further details were given about Bello or when he was held but Usman said security agents were tipped off and the arrest was made "as he attempted to flee".
He was handed over to military intelligence for questioning, he added.
The "most wanted" poster, published in English and the local, northeastern languages of Hausa and Kanuri late last month, appeals for public help in tracking down suspected Boko Haram members.
The group's leader Abubakar Shekau features twice in the rows of colour photographs, reflecting the military's belief he is in fact a composite character played by lookalikes.
President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the public's help in providing intelligence to the military, particularly with the Islamists having increased attacks on urban areas.
|45 in Custody over 'Boko Haram Plot' in Lagos|
|[AnNahar] Nigeria's secret police have and charged 45 suspects over an alleged plot to attack the country's financial hub, Lagos, sources with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Sunday.|
"About 60 suspects were picked up from different locations in Lagos by the Department of State Services acting on intelligence information they were planning to attack Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi last month," said one source, referring to an upscale area of Lagos.
Both sources, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, said some of the suspects were released after preliminary investigations, while 45 others were taken to a magistrate court on Friday.
"They were arraigned on holding charges. The DSS urged the court to remand them in prison pending further investigation and their eventual arraignment before a high court," said a source.
Dolphin Estate is a gated community on the Ikoyi island, which is home to wealthy Nigerians as well as expatriate workers, many of them in the oil and gas industry.
Any attack on Lagos, which drives Nigeria's economy and is seen by many foreign governments as a gateway to West Africa, would likely send shockwaves through both.
Lagos State Information Commissioner Steve Ayorinde on Saturday called for the public's help in ensuring the safety of the megacity's 20 million-strong population.
"Our appeal goes to every school, housing estates, religious houses, markets and shopping complexes, hotels and restaurants and sporting arenas to take issues of security and personal safety more seriously these days and to work with both the government and security agencies in promptly reporting any persons with suspicious activities or unusual gatherings that may compromise security," he said.
"Care must also be taken in how domestic servants and house aides are also employed," he added in a statement.
Boko Haram, which wants to carve out a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria's northeast, has threatened to move south to spread its six-year-old insurgency in the country.
The capital, Abuja, has been hit several times, most recently on October 2 when three s killed 18 in two satellite towns -- while Lagos was attacked last June.
The ing, near fuel depots and the city's main port, killed at least four and although denied by the authorities, was claimed by Boko Haram's shadowy leader, Abubakar Shekau.
In one propaganda video, Shekau threatened to hit Nigeria's oil-producing south.
Security analysts said at the time the Lagos bombing was likely to have been carried out by a small group of Boko Haram sympathizers, with no direct link to the group's high command.
- Military checkpoint targeted -
On Sunday, four suicide bombers attempting to blow up a military checkpoint in Maiduguri were killed when their car , local vigilantes, assisting the military in the fight against Boko Haram told AFP.
"Around 1:30 pm, a Golf car carrying four people just before the Jimtilo military checkout, on the outskirts of Maiduguri," vigilante Baba Kura said.
"We mobilized to the scene along with military personnel and we discovered the was caused by explosives and the car was engulfed in flames."
Another vigilante Umar Sani gave a similar account of the incident.
"A car just before reaching a military checkpoint. All the four occupants of the car died from the ," he said.
|Message said to be from Boko Haram leader attacks Nigerian army|
|[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] A new audio message purportedly from Abubakar Shekau calls the Nigerian army liars for saying troops have regained territory from the Islamist group. leader |
Nigeria's military said on Friday it had recaptured villages and rescued 90 people in a process that involved the "continuous elimination" of the group from Nigerian territory.
"They have lied about us saying that they retaken our territories, taken weapons and driven us away," says the recording posted online.
"They are actually the ones whom we have driven away. They are all liars."
could not independently verify the authenticity of the audio message. The Twitter feed of jihad monitoring site Site Intelligence said the Hausa language audio message was released by Shekau on Saturday.
Boko Haram has been fighting for six years to set up a state adhering to strict Islamic laws and at the start of 2015 controlled vast swathes of territory across three states in .
Nigeria's army, aided by troops from Chad, Niger and , said it pushed Boko Haram out of most of the territory earlier this year.
Suspected members of Boko Haram have killed around 800 people in Africa's most populous nation in a spate of bombings and shootings since President Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as president on May 29, according to a tally.
In the recording, Shekau appeared to make references to Buhari's visits to U.S. President and French President in July and September respectively.
"Buhari, you are yet to finish spending Obama's money. The business you are doing with the money is not over yet because I am here alive. Your business with Francois Hollande is not yet complete because I am still alive," he said.
|Boko Haram leader Shekau says he is 'still in charge'|
In the eight-minute Hausa-language message, Abubakar Shekau rebuffed claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced and called the president a "hypocrite" and a "tyrant".
"It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion," he said in the recording released on social media. "It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn't have been heard, now that I am speaking."
Deby declared on August 12 that efforts to combat neighbouring Nigeria's Boko Haram jihadists had succeeded in "decapitating" the group and would be wrapped up "by the end of the year". Deby told s in the capital N'Djamena Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Shekau and that his successor, whom he named as Mahamat Daoud, was open to talks.
"Gratitude be to Allah and with his help, I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I am not dead. And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up," Shekau said in the message.
The SITE Intelligence Group verified the authenticity of the message, and an AFP correspondent with extensive experience of reporting Boko Haram said it exactly resembled Shekau's voice in previous recordings.
Shekau's absence from Boko Haram videos in recent months has fuelled speculation that he might have been killed or . He has not spoken publicly since he pledged allegiance to the (IS) group in an audio recording released on March 7.
The jihadist commander refers to himself in the new recording for the first time as "leader of the west Africa wing" of IS and pays homage to its leader , referring to him as the "Caliph of s".
He taunted Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power on May 29 vowing to crush Boko Haram and ordered his military chiefs last week to end the insurgency within three months.
"This ostentatious person, a liar -- I mean Buhari, who raised arms to crush us in three months. You Buhari, why didn't you say in three years?" Shekau demanded. "We will certainly fight you by the grace of Allah until we establish Allah's law everywhere on Earth."
Speculation about Shekau's condition -- and even his true identity -- has been rampant in Nigeria for years. The wanted Islamist leader's whereabouts are unknown, but he has in the past made himself heard whenever he has been proclaimed dead.
Some experts and Nigerian security officials insist "Shekau" is a composite character, with different fighters stepping into the role at different times. The original Abubakar Shekau -- the son of poor farmers who became radicalised in a series of theological schools before taking over Boko Haram in 2010 -- actually died months, or possibly several years ago, according to the security services.
But the United States and other experts have questioned the credibility of that claim.
|Where's Shekau? Chad president messes with Boko Haram's mind|
|[FINANCIALEXPRESS] If Chadian President Idriss Deby is to be believed, Abubakar Shekau, the bearded and bandoliered leader of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is no more.|
|Boko Haram Has Been 'Decapitated', Says Chadian Leader|
Addressing s in the capital N'Djamena on the 55th anniversary of Chad's independence from , Deby said: "Boko Haram is decapitated. There are little groups (of Boko Haram members) scattered throughout east Nigeria, on the border with . It is within our power to definitively overcome Boko Haram."
"The war will be short, with the setting up of the regional force, it will be over by the end of the year," Deby added, referring to a new five-country force aimed at ending Boko Haram's bloody six-year Islamist insurgency that he said would be "operational in a few days".
Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have all pledged troops towards the new force.
"For my part, I would advise not to negotiate with a terrorist," Deby, whose country has been spearheading the regional fightback against Boko Haram, said.
While claiming progress in the fight against the jihadists, who have repeatedly hit border areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and wrought havoc in , Deby admitted that s still posed a threat.
In the past few week, suicide bombers, many of them women, have staged several attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
The challenge, Deby said, was to "avoid terrorist acts and that's why we must organize at the regional level to prevent bomb-making materials and other explosives entering our countries."
|We're still strong -- Boko Haram|
|[PREMIUMTIMESNG] Jihadist group, , says its fighters remain in areas they were years ago, despite an aggressive military effort against it by Nigeria and neighbouring countries.|
The group made the claim in a new video, in which its leader, Abubakar Shekau, was again missing.
In the eight-minute video, an unidentified young man speaking in Hausa with Kanuri accent, said Boko Haram members remain on the ground.
"We are still present everywhere we had been before," he said.
The video shows the group launching attacks on the security checkpoint, seizing weapons, and cutting the throat of unidentified middle aged man dressed in a police uniform.
The absence of Mr. Shekau in the new video raises question again about whether he is still alive or dead.
He was absent in an earlier video from the group in July.
The group also called on s to reject the Muhammadu Buhari government.
|Saving Niger’s Uranium Before Boko Haram Gets It|
Niger's government has declared a state of emergency in Diffa. If Boko Haram could establish a base there, it would be within striking range of Niger's Agadez region. The country's uranium output is produced from three Agadez mines. Boko Haram, which has declared allegiance to the , must not be allowed to control one of the world's largest reserves of uranium ore.
In Van Hipp's recent book, The New Terrorism, he proposes we help Niger deplete its uranium reserves before can get them. The author is a friend and his efforts to bring attention to this issue are commendable.
This idea may take years to complete and Hipp believes we should coordinate with the French since French companies work in two of the main uranium mines. The third is run by the Chinese. The Chinese should be cooperative due to their long-term demand for energy.
We must also work with other G7 countries to push for economic aid to Niger in order to get them to extract as much uranium as possible. Intelligence cooperation against Boko Haram from Nigeria and potential Tuareg separatists in the north will also be crucial. Niger is one of the world's poorest countries. Uranium is its leading export. Our allies and we must make sure it's sold to the right people and that Niger has a way to safely keep the proceeds.
Boko Haram is also a tribal phenomenon, as well as Islamic. Both the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, and its current leader, Abubakar Shekau, are from the Kanuri tribe. While the Hausa and Fulani tribes make up much of the elite in Nigeria, the Kanuri are marginalized and live in the Borno State, its poorest area.
|Boko Haram pledges allegiance to the Islamic State|
|[Daily Maverick] After months of teasing, Boko Haram has finally pledged allegiance to the Islamic State; an unholy alliance that, in theory, makes both sides bigger, badder and more brutal than ever before. But what if the theory is wrong? What if this is a sign of weakness, not strength?|
Boko Haram won't appreciate the analogy, but it fits: like a stripper tantalising her way towards the big reveal, the Nigerian militants have been teasing this one for months. There was the talk last year of joining a caliphate; the sudden change of tactics to emulate the Islamic State's successes; and, recently, the none-too-subtle flirting on Twitter.
So the announcement, when it came, was no surprise -- but no less momentous for it. Abubakar Shekau, in an audio message, confirmed that he as boko haram leader had pledged bayat -- allegiance -- to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Emir of the Islamic State and self-declared Caliph.
More than likely a desperate move by BH. They've been taken on by a consortium of private security personnel in league with the host government. Mineral rights must be protected.
Related article, book review.
|Boko Haram kill 40 in Diffa, southeast Niger|
|[AA.TR] At least 40 people were killed and several others injured Wednesday night when suspected attacked Niger's southeast Diffa region, according to sources in the regional military alliance, the Multi National Joint Task Force.|
"In yet another daring cross border attack on Wednesday, the attacked two border villages in Diffa region," a Nigerian military officer serving in the alliance told Anadolu Agency.
"They used s in the attack, followed by sporadic gunshots," he said on condition of anonymity, as he had no authority to speak to the media.
A member of a local Nigerian vigilante group in Bosso, a Nigerian border town only a few kilometers away from the Diffa region, confirmed the attack.
"The attack appeared to be some sort of tit-for-tat because just yesterday the Chadian army bombed some Nigerian villages, obviously in retaliation for some s on its towns two days ago," Audu Alaram, a member of the local vigilante group, told Anadolu Agency by phone from Bosso.
"Yesterday night, the led two bombers and struck in the Diffa region attack and killed close to 40 people, according to information from the military," he said.
Boko Haram had until recently restricted its violent campaign to Nigerian towns.
Following complaints by Nigeria that were hiding in neighboring countries from which they launched cross border raids, the soon faced mounting pressure from troops from neighboring armies who pushed them back.
This has apparently led to recent attacks on villages in , Chad and Niger - all of which have recently joined forces with Nigeria to crush the group.
In video footage released early this year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau warned leaders of neighboring countries not to help Nigeria in the fight against the group, threatening attacks on their soil if they supported the Nigerian government.
Analysts suggest that Boko Haram's recent pledge of allegiance to Daesh, which saw the Nigerian group change its name to in the West Africa Province, could be at the roots of its recent cross border raids across the region.