John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "Ansaru"

Nigeria’s Former President Acknowledges Boko Haram Grievances

by John Campbell
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo sits with the family of late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero in Kano, June 7, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo sits with the family of late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero in Kano, June 7, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

According to the Nigerian media, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a conference in Dubai, said, “they (Boko Haram) have legitimate grievances. We don’t need anyone to tell us that that is a problem: a problem of disparity, a problem of marginalization.” Read more »

Mercenaries in Nigeria

by John Campbell
A Chadian soldier walks past an armored vehicle that the Chadian military said belonged to insurgent group Boko Haram that they destroyed in battle in Gambaru, Nigeria, February 26, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters) A Chadian soldier walks past an armored vehicle that the Chadian military said belonged to insurgent group Boko Haram that they destroyed in battle in Gambaru, Nigeria, February 26, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters)

Reuters reported early Thursday that the Abuja government is using foreign mercenaries in the struggle against Boko Haram. They cite a security source as saying that each mercenary is paid $400 per day in cash. Additionally, they quote other sources as saying that the mercenaries are South African and from the former Soviet Union, especially Georgia. They ostensibly number in the hundreds, if not more. The numbers seem to be far larger than the two private companies providing “trainers and technicians” to which President Goodluck Jonathan referred in an interview with the Voice of America late Wednesday. And, the mercenaries appear to be using their own sophisticated military equipment. According to Reuters, Nigerian government and military spokesmen are refusing to comment. Read more »

Kano, Nigeria, Mosque Attack Likely Aimed at Governor, Emir

by John Campbell
Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters) Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters)

The November 28 attack on worshippers at Kano’s Central Mosque killed at least 130, according to the Nigerian media. No group has claimed responsibility, though most observers appear to think it was Boko Haram. Read more »

The U.S. Government Will Not Pay Ransom

by John Campbell
A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters)

ISIS and other Middle Eastern groups are notorious for kidnapping. However, for radical Islamist groups in the Sahel and northern Nigeria, ransom is also an important source of funding. In Nigeria, and probably elsewhere, most of the victims are indigenous. Families of kidnapping victims routinely pay to secure the release of loved ones. Read more »

Barbarism Begets Barbarism in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers, handcuffed in pairs, leave the court premises after the opening of the General court-martial in Abuja, October 2, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian soldiers, handcuffed in pairs, leave the court premises after the opening of the General court-martial in Abuja, October 2, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Boko Haram is rightly notorious for its barbarism: whole-sale murder of adolescent boys in schools, the kidnapping of hundreds of girls, beheadings, throat-slittings, and stonings all captured on video for propaganda purposes. There is evidence that Boko Haram is imposing amputations and other cruel and unusual punishments allegedly mandated by Islamic law in the territories it controls. It is revolting that Boko Haram claims that through such methods it is establishing God’s kingdom on earth through justice of the poor by means of the strict application of Islamic law. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update October 25-October 31

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from October 25 to October 31, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Kidnapping, Ransoms, and the Sahel

by John Campbell
Former French hostage Daniel Larribe is welcomed by relatives as French President Francois Hollande looks on on the tarmac upon their arrival at Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, October 30, 2013 (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters). Former French hostage Daniel Larribe is welcomed by relatives as French President Francois Hollande looks on on the tarmac upon their arrival at Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, October 30, 2013 (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters).

Rukmini Callimachi has a chilling story on the front page of today’s New York Times, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror.” It is a must-read. The story is based on a wide range of interviews with victims, government officials, counterterrorism experts, and thousands of pages of internal al-Qaeda documents found in Mali. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 21-27

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 21 to June 27, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Boko Haram Factions and the Kidnapping of the Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, during a sit-in protest at the Unity fountain Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman takes part in a protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, during a sit-in protest at the Unity fountain Abuja, May 12, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Jacob Zenn has published an important article that analyzes the various factions that comprise “Boko Haram,” their leadership and rivalries, and their links with other radical Islamist groups outside Nigeria. The article is dense and exhaustively documented. Here, I highlight certain of his points that I found especially relevant, given that the kidnapped Chibok school girls remain in captivity and a focus of intense domestic and international concern. Read more »

Negotiating the Freedom of the Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian army chief-of-staff General Kenneth Minimah (C) leaves a closed door meeting with senators at the national assembly in Abuja, Nigeria, May 15, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria is abuzz with speculation about government negotiations with Boko Haram over the release of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. According to the Nigerian media, former president Obasanjo has been speaking with personalities “close to” Boko Haram. Names of other possible official negotiators circulate. Speculation is that the parameters of a possible deal would be Boko Haram freeing some or all of the girls in return for the government releasing Boko Haram operatives and/or their wives and children who are currently extra-judicially detained without charge. Read more »