LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight, today released new graphics showing the evolution of Boko Haram’s operational environment since its re-emergence in 2010.
The 2013 map shows the initial contraction in the group's operational reach following President Goodluck Jonathan's announced state of emergency and targeted military campaign in May. The campaign spanned across the three north-eastern states where the Islamist militant group is primarily based.
“However, any claims of military success against the group have been overshadowed by the more intense frequency and scale of Boko Haram attacks in Borno and Yobe States over the past year as well as recent improvised explosive attacks targeting the outskirts of the federal capital Abuja,” Natznet Tesfay, head of Africa analysis at IHS Country Risk said.
The sequence of maps, created by the IHS Country Risk Indicators and Analytics team, shows the frequency of Boko Haram activity (attacks, arrests or weapons finds) by state and its changing distribution over time.
The maps also highlight the areas most affected by Boko Haram's counter-offensive, which includes border regions of neighbouring Niger and Cameroon where armed forces are supporting Nigerian counterparts in joint border patrols.
Military campaign to rescue 200 school girls
Pledged support from the UK, US, China and Israel to rescue over 200 school girls abducted by Boko Haram on 14 April will most likely take the form of logistical support, including aerial surveillance, and counter-terrorism training. Meanwhile, France, which recently announced the deployment of some 3,000 troops to Niger, Chad and Cameroon, will most probably focus on enhancing the capacity of security forces in affected Francophone neighbours amid fears of the group’s dispersal across porous borders.
“Although the Nigerian military will stand to benefit from the assistance, Boko Haram could circumvent an air campaign and any ground offensive, using civilian hostages as human shields and by retreating to bases in covered areas within Sambisa Forest and Mandara Mountains along the Nigeria-Cameroon border,” Tesfay said.
Ransom payment would boost capability
“Any payment of ransoms for hostages will also serve to boost the Islamist group's capability, which will likely be directed at destabilising any preparation for the February 2015 general elections, fomenting sectarian rivalries as well as targeting any assets or nationals from countries providing assistance,” said Tesfay.
The latter opens the door for greater cooperation between Boko Haram - almost solely focused on Nigeria - and other Sahel-based jihadist groups as their interests become more aligned.
“Boko Haram attacks outside of its operational hub in Nigeria's northeast will increasingly undermine President Jonathan's presumed re-election ambitions as well as any optimism gained when Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as the region's largest economy,” Tesfay concluded.
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