Boko Haram, Islamic State, and the Underlying Concerns for West Africa

ICC Note: Boko Haram and the Islamic State (IS) are theoretically aligned, but the actual and operational effects of this pact remain hard to trace. On the one hand, IS and Boko Haram maintain separate brutal military campaigns fighting state actors and persecuting Christians in similar horrendous ways, but geographically separated in different corners of the world. However, on the other hand, analysts suggest connections when intelligence reports from West Africa return evidencing Boko Haram cells potentially springing up in Senegal and Mali, and Islamist fighters of different ethnic backgrounds fighting in Nigeria while Nigerians are showing up in Libya.

By Omar S. Mahmood

Last year, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. What’s come of it?

5/1/16 Nigeria (AllAfrica) – When Boko Haram released a recording in March 2015 in which its leader pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, many analysts believed the announcement would primarily have value as propaganda.

After all, the feasibility of close operational ties between two of the world’s most notorious Islamist militant groups – one based in Syria and Iraq, the other thousands of miles away in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region – is limited. However, a year later, there is evidence of some effects from the nominal alliance.

Most notably, there have been some reported concrete operational links to date, while the pledge also seems to have added a layer of legitimacy to Boko Haram’s goals. Consequently, there have been a small but growing number of individuals making their way from across West Africa to join the group as well as reports of Boko Haram fighters joining the fight in Libya.

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