By Mohammed Bukar Sabo –
IS stands for Islamic State. Other names associated with this vicious group are: ISIL, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or, more befittingly, Daesh, Arabic word meaning “one who crushes something underfoot”. It aimed at forcefully creating an “Islamic caliphate”. At the peak of its murderous campaign it seized large expanse of land in both Iraq and Syria triggering millions of refugees’ unseen in the history in the Middle East. Thousands of lives were wasted by this death cult with mindless destruction of civilization.
IS has succeeded in globalizing terrorism. Its affiliates, sleeper cells and even lone wolves have wrecked havoc globally with claims of deadly attacks around the world. According to sources, IS has conducted attacks in more than 29 countries other than Iraq and Syria with over 200,000 fatalities.
It was once rated as the richest militant group with an estimated wealth running into billions of dollars. Islamic State’s sources of revenue were from the oil and gas fields it seized, ransoms from kidnappings, bank robberies, smuggling and taxes.
How did IS spread? Who are behind it? Though it emerged in Iraq as a result of resistance against America’s occupation, its phenomenal spread begs for critical examination.
It is now apparent that the Saudis, US and Israel are bent on reshaping the Middle East. Saudi’s infamous intervention in Syria and Yemen, the crisis it ignited with Qatar and recently in Lebanon hasn’t helped the Muslim world. The Saudis are desperately in alliance with Israel to confront Iran. The Middle Eastern states are essentially weakened by war/instability and ripe to reshape it in America’s interest.
The Russian intelligence communities and US observed that between 30-40,000 foreign fighters fought for IS in Iraq and Syria. Ironically the chicken is coming home to roost, as IS fighters are returning back to Europe to continue with their murderous campaigns.
Since the collapse of Communism, Islam is tagged the new enemy in global power configuration. Now that IS is being decimated, the old Shia-Sunni friction is once again taking the front burner with the alliance of Trump, Israel and Saudis beating war drums against Iran.
However, from 2016 IS suffered series of defeats in both Iraq and Syria. It is also instructive to note that neither Iraq nor Syria took the battles against IS with levity and Nigeria must learn to crush a terrorist group no matter its size with the sledgehammer. According to sources the Iraqis mobilized 54,000 security forces, 40,000 Kurdish militia, 14,000 para military, 14000 Sunni/Christians/Yazidis volunteers and 500 US service members just to retake Mosul.
Similarly, the Syrians took the threat of IS and militant groups seriously. Besides the Syrian army and volunteers, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah and to a limited extent Lebanon are all fighting the IS menace. A combination of these forces have radically degraded IS to the point of decimation. The fight against BH must be everybody’s business in Nigeria. Instead of quarantining able-bodied men and women in camps, Government should train them to fight to retake their ancestral homes. In fact they know the terrain better than the Nigerian army.
It is very pertinent to ask what happens “the day after IS” especially for Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram (BH). These wandering Jihadists will hardly go back to their countries and as President Buhari rightly observed, they may gravitate towards weaker states.
Already IS has moved towards South East Asia with deadly war in Marawi in Philippines. The recent killing of 305 Muslim worshippers in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt is attributed to IS. What is more alarming to yours sincerely from Borno state is the US intelligence linking the recent killing of four of its soldiers in TongoTongo in Niger to IS. The Mali-Niger corridor is heating up with IS members from Libya. There is need for vigilance along Niger and Chad borders.
It is well known that the BH faction led by Al Barnawi has sworn allegiance to the late Caliph of IS Abubakar Al Baghdadi so IS is already in Nigeria. Sources claimed that this faction is in northern Borno and the Libya-Niger corridor could be used to smuggle in both fighters and weapons. But sadly, Chad and Cameroon are losing steam in the war against BH.
One could also ask of what use are the military presence of America, France and the UK in Niger and Chad?
President Buhari’s commitment to secure Nigeria is commendable. I hope the Nigerian security is prepared for the consequences of the anticipation that these wandering jihadists may end up swelling the ranks BH. The communities along the borders of Niger, Chad and Cameroon should be recruited as border guards to secure those areas. The Nigerian government should transform the war against BH to a “peoples’ war” by arming civilians to fight it. The battle must be taken to every inch of the space occupied by BH. That strategy has proved successful in both Iraq and Syria.
– Sabo can be reached through: email@example.com