The Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, known for its kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, has deepened its connection to the Middle East terror army ISIS by forming an information and materiel-support alliance, according to sources.
A Nigeria staff member for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a non-profit foundation promoting democratic institutions, says leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS and Abubakar Shakau of Boko Haram “have been sharing military strategy and other information back and forth.”
Kristina Baum says the alliance will empower Boko Haram.
“Boko Haram is hopeful that this will give them more financial support,” she said. “Before, Boko Haram has been getting their money from kidnapping, ransom and extortion from local governments.”
Maha Hamdan, an analyst for Consultancy Africa Intelligence and IntelligenceCommunity.com, confirms the link-up, calling it a dangerous development.
She believes the weakness of the Nigerian army in its war against Boko Haram is “one of the major reasons for the rise of the Boko Haram and ISIS alliance.”
“We are standing at the precipice of the birth of a new radical Islam,” she said.
Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and the Economic Warfare Institute, says the alliance will feed Boko Haram’s hunger for spreading its vision of Islam as it provides more funding.
“Boko Haram and ISIS share the same basic ideology, and it worked with al-Qaida. And we know that with food – in this instance, success –comes an even bigger appetite,” she said.
She said jihadist groups that started out with a domestic agenda are “joining the larger jihadist agenda to impose Shariah everywhere.”
“And the more violence they can inflict on the infidels, the better, as far as they’re concerned,” Ehrenfeld said.
Hussein Solomon, professor of political science at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and analyst for the Jerusalem-based think tank, Research on Islam and Muslims in Africa, agrees Boko Haram will benefit from the connection.
He points out the two groups have many commonalities.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shakau, in his most recent video, he said, “had positive things to say about ISIS, and he is very pragmatic.”
“Certainly this partnership will benefit Boko Haram more,” Solomon said.
Ehrenfeld affirmed that with the additional assets available from ISIS, Boko Haram is closer to its ultimate objective.
“We shouldn’t forget that their goal is to replace secular governments with their own, and, therefore, they are seeking to control economic and financial resources,” Ehrenfeld said.
Baum, who has also worked as an energy journalist in Nigeria and done missionary work there, says Boko Haram has been aligned with al-Qaida. She believes the alliance with ISIS will strengthen Boko Haram’s resolve.
“As they’re heating up and moving forward, their operations have been getting closer to ISIS. Everything they’ve done and released indicates that growing connection,” Baum said.
Boko Haram has made progress in its northern campaign, controlling most of Borno state, the city of Gwoza and also much of Adamawa state. Intelligence analysts say Boko Haram’s territorial gains, along with the new alliance with ISIS, may inspire them to move into the southern half of the country.
Baum said advances in the south could result in a major disruption in the world’s crude oil supply, because Nigeria is Africa’s largest energy producer.
“If this conflict continues to disrupt Nigeria, we’re looking at some major U.S. assets that are going to see an impact. Exxon-Mobil and Chevron have vested interests there. Exxon-Mobil has speed drills and is building a $497 million facility there along the coast,” she said.
Baum said Boko Haram’s influence also is growing through its increasingly sophisticated video production.
“Boko Haram is releasing longer, more frequent video statements outlining their agenda and objectives. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them develop a more aggressive and polished public relations strategy,” she said.
“Because they’ve beheaded people and even recorded some of their executions, they have the potential to intimidate more and more people.”
Baum said if the alliance produces a more aggressive Boko Haram, Christians in the north will have to leave.
“There is no way around them having to flee as the country moves deeper into a civil war. There’s the Christian south and the Islamic north. They have no choice but to leave,” Baum said.
WND reported in August that Christians in Nigeria’s north are being advised to fight back because of their government’s inability to defend them.
Ehrenfeld said that “unless the non-Muslims in Africa fight the jihadists, they’ll become refugees, enslaved or killed.”
However, Baum said she doesn’t believe the Christians have the equipment or the skills to fight back.
“I don’t see them being armed and equipped enough to fight back. I don’t think they have the capability even though there have been conflicting reports. Overall, much of the Nigerian military has been fleeing in the face of Boko Haram aggression,” Baum said.
She said reports she has received from the State Department indicate the U.S. likely won’t offer further support to the Nigerian government.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, said he is still baffled at the administration’s refusal to offer military intelligence to Nigeria to help its army combat Boko Haram.
“We continually hear about how there’s a lack of intelligence. Yet, we have some of the best satellite intelligence in the world,” the congressman said.