John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 30 – August 5

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 July 30, 2016 to August 5, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Opposition to U.S. Military Aircraft Sale to Nigeria

by John Campbell
U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Clayton, an 81st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, flies an A-29 Super Tucano in the skies over Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, U.S., March 5, 2015. (Reuters/enior Airman Ryan Callaghan) U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Clayton, an 81st Fighter Squadron instructor pilot, flies an A-29 Super Tucano in the skies over Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, U.S., March 5, 2015. (Reuters/enior Airman Ryan Callaghan)

The New York Times on May 18 opposed the U.S. sale of military aircraft to Nigeria in an editorial titled Block the Sale of Warplanes to Nigeria. The core of the editorial’s argument is that President Muhammadu Buhari has not done enough to respond to charges that the Nigerian army has committed war crimes in its fight against Boko Haram. The newspaper also asserts that “Nigeria’s government cannot be entrusted with the versatile new warplanes, which can be used for ground attacks as well as reconnaissance.” Read more »

Taking the Temperature of Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by John Campbell
A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The Nigeria security services regularly announce successes against Boko Haram. Earlier in April, they announced the arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi, a leader of Ansaru—a Boko Haram splinter—and have claimed thereby to have disrupted at least some terrorist networks. Over the weekend of April 16 and 17, the military announced the discovery of a large cache of Boko Haram weapons. An army spokesman said that the captured weapons were worth 20 million naira (the equivalent of roughly $100 thousand, at the official exchange rate, much less at the floating black market rate). The spokesman also said that the army recovered a generator, a Hilux vehicle, and several motorcycles. Read more »

Major Nigerian Terrorist Arrested

by John Campbell
Nigerian special forces conduct a mock casualty evacuation during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015.  (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) Nigerian special forces conduct a mock casualty evacuation during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

The Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, and a spokesman for the Nigerian army announced on April 3 the capture and arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of Ansaru (“Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands”), a splinter group of Boko Haram. (The confirmation by Lai Mohammed makes the capture claim credible.) Ansaru has carried out a campaign of high-profile targeted assassinations and has kidnapped foreigners, especially Europeans. Read more »

ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram: Faces of Terrorism

by John Campbell
A member of militias known as Hashid Shaabi kneels as he celebrates victory next to a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, in the town of al-Alam March 10, 2015. (Courtesy/Thaier Al-Sudani) A member of militias known as Hashid Shaabi kneels as he celebrates victory next to a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, in the town of al-Alam March 10, 2015. (Courtesy/Thaier Al-Sudani)

In the aftermath of attacks on Nairobi, Beirut, Paris, and Bamako over the last few years it is becoming easier to distinguish between the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and their affiliates. These groups share a common beliefs system, but ISIS and al-Qaeda are rivals and perhaps enemies. Neither is monolithic and there are also significant differences between them and their affiliates, especially ISIS and Boko Haram, despite pledges of allegiance. Read more »

Boko Haram Factions Divided over Loyalty to the Islamic State

by John Campbell
A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the The Jamestown Foundation. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 30-June 5

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 May 30, 2015 to June 5, 2015. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

What’s Happening With Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

Nigeria inaugurates its new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 29. It is the first time a Nigerian head of state has defeated an incumbent at the ballot box. Buhari’s successful campaign was largely based on the need to restore security and to counter corruption. Now, as he takes office, the radical Islamist insurrection labeled Boko Haram is the country’s most immediate security threat. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 16-May 22

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 May 16, 2015 to May 22, 2015. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

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 »