This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C. based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor for the West Point CTC Sentinel.
Traditional Muslim leaders, the sultan of Sokoto in particular, may have an important role to play in countering the extremist views that attract recruits to Boko Haram, Ansaru, and other radical Islamist groups. The sultan may still command the respect of a majority of Muslims in Nigeria. Even though Boko Haram and Ansaru reject the sultan’s authority and have tried to assassinate a number of traditional Muslim leaders, the sultan’s moderate message may make the operational environment less conducive for groups such as Boko Haram and Ansaru. The sultan and other traditional leaders could serve as a bulwark against Boko Haram and other extremists by reducing the potential Boko Haram recruiting pool. But, they are less likely to influence Boko Haram directly. Read more »