Recently, members of the terrorist group Boko Haram reached out to the Islamic State known as ISIS, saying they were interested in joining forces. Shortly after, that offer was accepted. As chilling as it is to have two of the most powerful extremist movements in the world come together, there are questions as to how operations will play out.
Boko Haram operates out of Africa while ISIS is from the Middle East. However, they both spread a harsh brand of Islamic rule, which is extremely dangerous. While the fast acceptance of Boko Haram’s pledge definitely gives both groups a boost from a publicity standpoint and at a time when both are experiencing losses in combat, experts are trying to determine what this ultimately means.
Some believe an ISIS affiliate in Libya will be used to bridge the gap between the two countries but the big question is whether it can be done in an efficient and effective manner. What is known is that the new alliance has deepened the internationalization of a Nigerian conflict that has lasted nearly six years.
Efforts on a multinational level have been trying to take down the West African militants, to include air power from the US and Shiite militias backed by Iran who continue to fight ISIS. An offensive against Boko Haram is already being waged by Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. In addition, an acknowledgement came from Nigeria yesterday saying that help was coming from regional security operatives, this as South African and various other contractors are in the midst of fighting.
According to officials from France, the number of troops will be increased slightly in Sahel by the end of 2015, which includes the region of Lake Chad where a significant amount of Boko Haram fighting with Nigerian soldiers has taken place.
As stated by Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Defense Minister, there is no intent on being a huge part of the fighting. At this time, there are already 3,000 French fighters involved with Operation Barkhane, a campaign against ISIS in that region.
Many people find it somewhat surprising that Boko Haram’s request for allegiance was accepted so quickly since ISIS responded to offers from various militant groups very slowly, some that even left affiliation with al-Qaida in order to join the Islamic state group of militants.
The pledge from Boko Haram has renewed a debate regarding ISIS’ focus of reaching further around the globe. However, because of multinational forces, extremists with Boko Haram have weakened recently and thanks to Iraqi troops and their Shiite militias’ allies, ISIS has been feeling a lot of pressure.
One analyst did not give much credence to any organizational connection between the two terrorist groups. Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa added that it appears the movements are simply trying to outdo one another specific to scare tactics and radicalization.