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Related Stories Despite own agendas, al-Shabaab and other militant groups connect in Africa. Islamic extremists killed sleeping students at Nigeria college, official says. Report Error.

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  1. Northern Nigeria's Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda's Africa Strategy - Semantic Scholar.
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  3. Boko Haram’s Buyer’s Remorse – Foreign Policy;
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Captured rebel says foreigners fight with Boko Haram in Nigeria | CTV News

One special-forces soldier says he has been on operations constantly for four years. The emotional toll of this can be seen in the glazed, red eyes of one of his comrades, who looks back from a marijuana haze. ISWAP offers security and its own brand of justice in areas that have fallen beyond the control of the state.

Terror Part IV: Boko Haram

Although it cannot hold territory in a stand-up fight with the Nigerian army, it is building a proto-caliphate. In all, some 2.

The army argues that it is necessary to move people away from the fighting to protect them and to deny the jihadists food and shelter. Most observers think that indiscriminate killings by the army and the forcing of people into garrison towns are fuelling the insurgency. There are almost no jobs in the camps. Access is through checkpoints manned by the army and CJTF, who demand bribes.

Amnesty International, a human-rights group, says many women and girls have been raped in the camps and that hundreds if not thousands of people confined in them have died of starvation or a lack of medical care. In areas affected by Boko Haram almost no one gets schooling, health care or other public services.

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Northern Nigerias Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaedas Africa Strategy

In Bama, a town that was once home to more than , people, the general hospital is a camp for displaced people. Aid workers reckon that the Nigerian government has posted no more than two civilian administrators to the town. Most were uneducated and came from poor areas. This is not enough. At an MSF clinic in Maiduguri, more than half of the beds are filled with stick-thin children, some with hair turned brittle and orange by starvation. Yet, even amid the destitution, there are glimmers of economic development. In Bakassi, a large camp for displaced people, Hajja Kale Muhammad smiles broadly as she holds up a handbag stitched on a sewing machine bought with a grant from the ICRC.

Mrs Muhammad fled Boko Haram with her four children three years ago. The WFP, similarly, is trying to get farmers and fishermen back on their feet by giving them packs of seeds and fishing nets. Notably absent is the Nigerian government. It published an impressive four-volume plan to rebuild the north-east two years ago, but has abdicated almost all humanitarian and development work to international organisations.

Such lassitude worries Western armies, which are reluctant to get sucked into another war.

Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram

America and Britain train Nigerian troops and provide advice and intelligence. American special forces also go on joint patrols with the army in Niger, and France conducts extensive operations across the Sahel. Western powers are bankrolling the G5, a regional counterterrorism force with troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. But they are loth to take a more direct role in fighting ISWAP in Nigeria, such as that being undertaken in Somalia, where America has some troops on the ground and conducts raids and drone strikes to kill or capture jihadists.

It lost a soldier in June. Lake Chad is inaccessible, so few foreign fighters can get in or out. It is also horribly poor, and therefore unattractive to the Western-born jihadists who complained that life in Iraq and Syria lacked material comforts. Other jihadist outfits in the region have proved able to attack Western targets locally, such as hotels.

But only IS in Libya has successfully staged attacks in Europe in recent years. A similar rethink may be taking place after the ambush in Niger. American soldiers in Africa have been ordered to go on fewer missions and to take fewer risks. To fill that gap, Britain, France and their allies would have to put more of their troops on the ground. Peter Pham, director of the Michael S. Its leaders have two messages: one tailored for locals that addresses local issues and attracts new recruits and popular support; and another aimed at a broader audience, seeking reputational capital and financial backing.

Al Qaeda also has much to gain from alliances with African groups. Territory controlled by allied organizations offer safe havens for Al Qaeda operatives and fighters. Al Shabaab in Somalia is an example. Analysts have long pointed to divisions, tensions and sometimes outright hostility between the nationalists in the organization and those interested in taking the group global. Also problematic is the cross-fertilization taking place between Islamist groups on different sides of the continent that, Pham argues, is driving a kind of self-radicalization, as the organizations share expertise and tactics.

The resilience of Al Qaeda ideology was made clear in recent months. Even as Al Shabaab was forced into retreat in Somalia over the last year, a new threat emerged very rapidly in northern Mali, where various Al Qaeda-aligned groups hijacked a local rebellion in March. Together they control half of a huge country and are establishing governments, largely unchallenged.

They are well equipped, raising questions about the origins of outside financial backing, and there have been numerous unconfirmed sightings in northern Mali of foreigners from Pakistan and elsewhere.