World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's notorious Boko Haram armed group has a history of acknowledging – and commending – like-minded armed groups, including Al-Qaeda.
But at no time has the group allied itself to any of them – that's why analysts say Boko Haram's recent pledge of allegiance to ISIL, is a game changer for Boko Haram and Nigeria.
"The allegiance suggests that Boko Haram is allying itself to the global movement, and that calls for worry. It is a challenge for the international community as a whole and puts the Nigerian state on alert to the effect that this is not just about a local insurgency but more of an international terrorist movement" Benjamin Ahodipe, who teaches diplomacy at Lagos State University, told.
In a nearly ten-minute audio message released Saturday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged alliance to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"In submission to the order of Allah and submission to the order of the prophet to stay united as ummah, we announce our allegiance to the caliph of the Muslims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," he said in a poor-quality audio recording posted online.
"We will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, hardship and ease. We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph and support him" Shekau pledged.
Ahodipe, the expert, argues that the pledge of alliance "means not only that Boko Haram truly enjoys foreign support, but it points at the direction of where such support comes from. That in itself shows that Boko Haram is not on its own – as some people have suggested – but has foreign backing"
He said Boko Haram is "not likely to recruit foreign fighters" because it would not be able to blend into local communities and would be easily identified by security forces.
"But it could boost their internal recruitment drive," added Ahodipe. "It also means they might now be getting more international support."
At the start of its violent campaign in 2009 through 2012, Boko Haram tried to rally local Muslims behind its actions – but the gambit failed.
Muslim leaders and groups, including the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), have repeatedly denounced the group.
Perhaps unhelpful to the group's cause were attacks on prominent Muslim scholars and northern leaders.
Aliyu Mahmoud, a prominent rights campaigner based in Nigeria's northwestern Kano State, said Boko Haram's latest message was stronger than its usual ideological propaganda.
"What this requires from Nigeria is superior arguments relying on Islamic texts," he told AA.
"That is because Shekau was clearly manipulating divine texts to sell his call for global support for an al-Baghdaadi-led caliphate," Mahmoud said.
Patrick Agbambu, a pan-African security analyst, believes Boko Haram is responding to a regional alliance – including neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad – that is now fighting alongside Nigerian troops.
"There is more danger for Nigeria with this alliance with ISIL, because the way it is now, Boko Haram will have more support in the area of strategic planning," he told.
"They will likely have more sympathizers across the world. Even now it appears that they are getting more recruits by the day," said Agbambu.
He said the alliance with ISIL had been expected, since Boko Haram had in the past made veiled comments to this effect.
"The statement is a way of saying 'Yes, we have expanded the scope of our operations and ideology and… foreign support'," Agbambu contended.
"Nigeria itself has called for global support to fight terrorism. The alliance means Boko Haram is also seeking foreign support," he added.
Agbambu warned that Boko Haram currently appeared more dangerous than ever.
"It means Nigeria will need more pragmatic leadership in the fight against Boko Haram. It has to be more strategic and more result-oriented."
The expert said the era in which Nigerian troops simply responded to Boko Haram attacks was over.
"I expect the military and political leadership to be more practical in their response to insurgent activity." Agbambu asserted.Last Mod: 10 Mart 2015, 14:28