John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Terrorism"

Can the U.S. Help Nigeria Confront Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a long time Nigeria was Washington’s most important strategic partner on issues of security and stability in Africa. But, the Boko Haram insurgency and Abuja’s response to it has put that partnership in jeopardy. The movement and the Nigerian government’s failed response to it pose a dilemma for the Obama administration. On the one hand, Boko Haram is repellent, regularly resorting to terror against the highly vulnerable, including the murder and kidnapping of young people in school. On the other hand, the official security forces carry out atrocities against the local population, and the government has thus far failed to address the drivers of the insurgency, including political marginalization, accelerating impoverishment, and rampant corruption. This state of affairs has allowed Boko Haram to ramp up its military campaign in 2014, having killed over 3,600 civilians and seizing control of more than 10 towns in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram has also carried out cross-border operations, notably in northern Cameroon. 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 »

How Can U.S. Intel Training Help Fight Boko Haram?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Jesse Sloman is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations and a reserve officer in the Marine Corps. He served on active duty from 2009 to 2013. The views expressed here are his own. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Attacks a French Facility

by John Campbell
A logo is seen at a Lafarge concrete production plant in Pantin, outside Paris, April 7, 2014. (Christian Hartmann/Courtesy Reuters) A logo is seen at a Lafarge concrete production plant in Pantin, outside Paris, April 7, 2014. (Christian Hartmann/Courtesy Reuters)

Boko Haram has launched expanded operations in Gombe state, with numerous killings and burnings. Several media outlets report that among Boko Haram’s targets was a Lafarge cement facility in the town of Ashaka. Lafarge is a French owned cement, concrete, and aggregate business that operates around the world. Lafarge has operated its facility in Ashaka since 1979. 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 18-October 24

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 18 to October 24, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update October 11-October 17

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 11 to October 17, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Nigeria’s Chibok School Girl Kidnapping Six Months Later

by John Campbell
A member of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group holds a placard under a bridge on the 140th day of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, while they were sitting for their final exams, during a protest in Abuja, September 1, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group holds a placard under a bridge on the 140th day of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, while they were sitting for their final exams, during a protest in Abuja, September 1, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On the night of April 14-15, 2014 up to three hundred girls from different schools in northeastern Nigeria gathered for their final examinations in the town of Chibok. Instead of taking their tests, they were kidnapped. Three weeks later, on May 5, Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Some victims managed to escape, and the numbers still held in captivity are soft. The figure most often cited by the media is 276. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update October 4-October 10

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 4 to October 10, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

The Boko Haram War Machine

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Pictured above is a T-55 Main Battle Tank similar to the one captured by the Nigerian Military on September 27, 2014. Pictured above is a T-55 Main Battle Tank similar to the one captured by the Nigerian Military on September 27, 2014.

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is an officer in the U.S. Army National Guard.

In early September there were reports that the Nigerian military captured a “quad barreled ZSU-23-4 Shilka” anti-aircraft gun that was mounted on a Toyota technical truck, from Boko Haram. Sahara Reporters later confirmed that the Nigerian military captured heavy weapons systems from Boko Haram such as a T-55 tank and a Panhard ERC-90 “Sagaie.” Now that we know the kind of weaponry in Boko Haram’s possession, we are left with two major questions. Read more »