Something that no Western Government would have the balls to do.
I give thanks to the brave actions of the Nigerian Security Forces for ridding Africa of the filth known as Boko Haram.
Human rights abuses by Nigeria’s security forces are fuelling a cycle of violence that is emboldening the increasingly vicious militant Islamist group Boko Haram, according to Amnesty International in a report released Thursday.
Boko Haram adherents have killed hundreds in their effort to overthrow Nigeria’s government and establish an Islamic state, targeting churches and security forces. Counterterrorism officials fear that as the group grows in popularity its members may align forces with the Mali-based Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
But Amnesty International’s 88-page investigation also highlights instances where government forces have violated human rights “with impunity” in the name of fighting terror, carrying out executions, forced “disappearances,” mass detentions and failing to investigate government abuses.
“There is a vicious cycle of violence currently taking place in Nigeria,” the report states. “The Nigerian people are trapped in the middle . . . Impunity fosters more unlawful violence. It also denies victims and their relatives the right to have the truth established and acknowledged, the right to see justice done and the right to full reparation.”
Nigerian army spokesperson Col. SK Usman disputed the report’s findings in an interview with BBC Thursday.
“There is no Nigerian soldier that goes out on the streets to just kill innocent Nigerians,” he told the British broadcaster. “So whatever we do we always make sure it is done within the ambit of the law.”
But concern over government corruption and state abuses in Nigeria and other regions struggling with radical Islamic movements are not new.
A United States Institute of Peace warned in its May report that “tactics employed by government security agencies against Boko Haram have been consistently brutal and counterproductive.
“Their reliance on extrajudicial execution as a tactic in ‘dealing’ with any problem in Nigeria not only created Boko Haram as it is known today, but also sustains it and gives it fuel to expand.”
Yet with the recent focus on Africa’s Sahel region, Amnesty International’s detailed accusations, along with similar findings issued earlier this month by Human Rights Watch, may take on greater significance as Nigeria looks to international partners for help.
The report cites examples of illegal government killings described by witnesses interviewed by Amnesty International in 2011 and early 2012. Some said they saw “people who were clearly no threat to life – unarmed, lying down or with their hands over their head or cooperating – shot at close range by security forces.”
Although the group is commonly known as Boko Haram, which translates as “Western Education is forbidden,” the organization which calls itself Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wali-Jihadl (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad) was first established in 2003 under the leadership of Islamic cleric Mohammed Yusuf.
The group’s popularity soared following a 2009 crackdown by security forces where more than 800 died, including unarmed civilians. Yusuf was jailed and died the same day in custody.
In March, when the group was often referred to as the “Nigerian Taliban,” they issued a statement saying, “The killings have made us more determined and committed in our struggle.” A dramatic prison break in September 2010 freed at least 100 members and other inmates, bolstering their ranks.
Although Boko Haram is not listed as a terrorist organization in the U.S. or Canada, the U.S. State Department added three of the group’s leaders to the “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” list in June.
Analysts appear divided as to whether the group has global aspirations or remains focused on a domestic agenda, as Brian Fishman, a research fellow in counterterrorism at the New American Foundation recently suggested in the New York Times.
“It’s local jihadi groups focused on projects within their own countries, even if they sometimes maintain the rhetorical framework of Al Qaeda and its global struggle,” he told the paper about Africa’s emerging organizations.
Jacob Zenn, a West African Affairs analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, wrote in a report this week for West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center that Boko Haram’s expanding geographical reach could bring them closer to Mali’s AQIM.
The report coincided with a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Algeria Monday to bolster support for an international effort to deal with AQIM and Islamist militants in northern Mali.
Mali’s government was ousted in March by a military coup that enabled separatist rebels to seize control of the country’s northern region, which they soon lost to AQIM.
“It’s not likely Boko Haram would officially merge . . . because then they would lose support among those who sponsor it for domestic purposes but it seems individual members could benefit from an alliance,” Zenn said in an interview Wednesday.
Zenn said while he believed the group lacked the capacity to strike farther than its immediate neighbours of Niger and Cameroon, Boko Haram’s statements often included international threats.