John Campbell, a former Ambassador of the United States to Nigeria has said Nigeria is far defeating extremism as represented by the Boko Haram insurgent group.
He also warned that the violent Islamist group, Boko Haram, may likely attack Lagos and Kano states.
The diplomat, who said the sect are likely to regroup, become more violent and radical, said the leadership crisis in their ranks does not mean their ability to be deadly in attacks has been degraded.
Campbell said: “It should be anticipated that attacks on government and Western facilities will continue but not necessarily centred in the North-East. Instead, the two factions are likely to carry out attacks further afield, in Kano, possibly Lagos, and almost certainly in Cameroon and Niger. There may well be greater cooperation with the various criminal networks that are active across the Sahel.
“The paradox is that a splintered Boko Haram with rival leaders may pose less of a threat to the Nigerian state in the short term but a greater one to the broader region and to Western individuals and interests. Up to now, (Abubakar) Shekau’s ties to the Islamic State do not appear to have been operationally significant, while al-Barnawi’s link with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb appears to have been limited to specific operations. That could change in the future.”
Campbell also disclosed that there is the posibility for terrorist attacks by Boko Haram to spread beyond Nigeria, if a faction of the group falls under the operational control of the Islamic State, ISISA or the AQIM.
According to him, the concentration of American interests around Lagos and the South South, makes the Lagos and environs a choice target.
“Kidnapping has been an Ansaru specialty in the past, often in cooperation with jihadist or criminal groups based elsewhere in the Sahel. Kidnapping of Westerners, highly lucrative, may also spike with Ansaru’s re-emergence,” adding that the struggle for the control of Boko Haram by Shekau and al-Barnawi shows that extremism was evolving and that it is far from being defeated by Nigeria.
“The focus of the struggle against the secular state is moving away from the occupation of specific bits of territory concentrated in the isolated North-East towards a more general assault on non-Islamic institutions and practices. Even if the Nigerian security services are able to destroy Boko Haram in the short term and kill Shekau and al-Barnawi, an extremist Islamic movement would likely soon re-emerge. If the previous pattern persists that each ‘cycle’ is more radical, violent, and outward looking than its predecessor, there is also a good chance that it could have even stronger links with jihadist movements outside Nigeria, especially AQIM and Islamic State,” Campbell said.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews…
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