MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – Boko Haram’s pledge to follow the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has psychological, financial and tactical implications, putting the African terrorists in a subservient role intended to increase funding from the Middle East, Nigeria relations expert Adeniyi Ojutiku told Baptist Press.
Boko Haram released an audio clip online March 7 pledging allegiance to ISIS. The audio featured statements by Boko Haram caliph Abubakar Shekau.
While Boko Haram has long modeled itself after ISIS, Ojutiku said, Middle Eastern Arabs consider the African terrorists racially inferior and have never fully accepted them. Ojutiku is a Raleigh, N.C., Southern Baptist who leads the Lift Up Now grassroots outreach to his Nigerian homeland.
“While the origins of the two organizations are distinctly different, Boko Haram has constantly fine-tuned its Islamic Caliphate [an Islamic-ruled government] agenda and progressively strived to make it similar to that of ISIS, in order to be recognized and accepted by ISIS,” Ojutiku said in a written statement to BP.
Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, whose symbolic flag is shown above.
“Even though ISIS has maintained a strong communication relationship with, as well as logistical support of Boko Haram, it has shied away from being publicly associated with Boko Haram,” he said. “The recent pledge to subserve the Boko Haram … Caliphate to the ISIS Caliphate is to finally acquiesce to the existing psychological inferiority of Boko Haram, in exchange for ISIS support, in a master-servant relationship.”
A senior Nigeria military intelligence official, who requested anonymity, told Ojutiku he believes that Boko Haram’s sole tactic is financial.
“Surely they will get extra funding,” the official said, Ojutiku told BP. “Boko Haram is aligning with ISIS to make it look like an affiliate of ISIS and the end result is financing. There [has] been [an] exchange of emails between the two organizations to show that [there] is a bond.”
Chad and Cameroon military forces have joined Nigeria in recapturing territories in Northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram had established caliphates, according to news reports. As of mid-January, Boko Haram had established its own governments in towns covering more than 20,000 square miles in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, but they have been toppled in some of the towns, Nigeria military officials have said in widely disseminated reports.
Boko Haram’s strategy to increase its financial support is related to its desire to survive and renew, and to improve its standing as an international terrorist organization, Ojutiku said.
“By this, Boko Haram hopes to put a heightened sense of fear into the public’s perception of its global reach of terror and brutality,” Ojutiku said. “The Boko Haram ISIS pledge is also a desperate move of survival, from the continuing onslaught of Boko Haram defeat, as well as its organizational deconstruction and displacement from the captured territories of Northeast Nigeria, by the combined regional forces of Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria.”
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission postponed Feb. 14 elections until March 28, citing security concerns in the midst of Boko Haram aggression and the resultant displacement of an estimated 28 million voters.
“Boko Haram hopes that ISIS will come to its aid, in order to replenish its equipment, weapons and ammunitions resources,” Ojutiku said. “Through ISIS acceptance of its pledge, Boko Haram hopes to be enabled to retool, as well as re-strategize for long-lasting and more devastating acts of terrorism, continuing into the aftermath of Nigeria’s presidential elections, regardless of [the election’s] outcome.”
ISIS, in efforts to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, has rendered minorities in Iraq nearly extinct as a result of religious and ethnic cleansing, the Christian human rights organization 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative said in a Feb. 11 report. In addition, the terrorists have executed at least one American, and have systematically killed, sexually exploited and enslaved children.
The international community can weaken the terrorists in Africa and the Middle East by exposing their sources of funding, said the Nigerian military officer who communicated with Ojutiku.
“The international community will do well to help expose those financing terrorism and also help the developing countries who have been plagued with terrorists activities to fight terrorism,” the officer said.
“This can be achieved through real time intelligence, supply of equipment and capacity building.”
According to media reports, Caliph Abubakar Shekau made the following statement in the released audio clip.
“We announce our allegiance to the caliphate … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against and not to dispute about the rule with those in power except in the case of infidelity,” Shekau reportedly said. “We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the [ISIS] caliphate and support him, as obedience to Allah and as their application of the absent duty era.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.)