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Boko Haram’s Threat Is Growing – Ioannis Mantzikos

January 18, 2014

Boko Haram’s Threat Is Growing

by Ioannis Mantzikos

January 16, 2014 

The ramping up of violent attacks on diverse civilian and military targets in Nigeria by Boko Haram (henceforth BH) since July 2009, when it launched a short-lived anti-government revolt, has effectively made the group a subject of interest to states, security agencies, journalists and scholars. In an attempt to widen its targets and perhaps most possibly copying the Taliban case in Afghanistan which attacked critical infrastructures as well, Boko Haram is becoming increasingly dangerous in every level.

Boko Haram attacks had traditionally focused on the security establishment and personnel, community and religious leaders, politicians, centres of worship, and other civilian targets. Over time, it has added markets, public schools, hospitals, tertiary institutions, media houses, and more recently, critical infrastructure such as telecommunication facilities to the list of its ruthless attacks. While the scale and impact of its attacks have earned BH intense local and international media coverage, neither the tactics employed nor its evolving targets suggests anything hitherto unknown to the history of terrorist violence.

The redefinition of its tactics, which involved perfecting its traditional hit-and-run tactics and adding new flexible violent tactics, such as the placement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), targeted assassination, drive-by shooting and suicide bombings has been introduced after the killing of its leader Muhammad Yusuf.

Nevertheless, the attack launched by Boko Haram on a Nigerian Air Force base in the insurgency-wracked city of Maiduguri in December 2013 where a  number of security personnel were killed and several aircraft destroyed during the nighttime attack that is said to have been executed by hundreds of Boko Haram fighters means that the group is turning towards  more sophisticated targets.

The attack in Maiduguri is reminiscent of others by al Qaeda’s allies on air forces bases in other theaters of the war. Two of the more prominent attacks over the past several years include the Afghan Taliban’s assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand in September 2012 (two US Marines were killed, and six Harriers were destroyed and two more were damaged); and the Pakistani Taliban’s attack on Pakistani Naval Station Mehran in Karachi (10 Pakistani troops were killed, and two US-made P-3C Orion maritime surveillance planes were destroyed and another was damaged).

The recent raid against Maiduguri airbase brings into surface two issues: first the poor aviation security status in Nigeria and second several airbases such as the Minna, Makurdi and airport facilities such as the Katsina or the Yakubu Gowon Airport in Jos in Nigeria lack strict security measures. Not to mention that until recently some airports in Nigeria had (and some still have) poor lighting and old scanners. In several airports the staff lack security expertise and training which along with the influx of illegal intruders such as beggars or non-passengers make a dangerous threat for aviation in Nigeria. In such environment terrorists can easily hide, move and plot, thus it is obligatory for the Federal Government in Nigeria to tighten security measures, employ security staff and update its screening technologies.


This article was first published in the News Chronicle.

The link to the original article is:



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