By Theodore Shoebat
Boko Haram has now managed to control a chunk of land the size of Ireland. As Breibart tells us:
Boko Haram has control of a swath of land the size of Ireland and the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, says he will rule the land as a caliphate in a fashion similar to ISIS’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Wall Street Journal also reported on this conquest and expansion of Boko Haram, writing:
Boko Haram has extended control over a small city in the northeast of Nigeria, its residents say, in a sign of how an air-power campaign against the militant group so far has failed to turn the conflict in favor of the country’s beleaguered military.
In the week since the Islamist insurgency moved into Bama, the second-largest city of Nigeria’s Borno state, Boko Haram has begun forcibly recruiting young men and killing residents it perceives as hostile, said Alhaji Usman Jidda Shuwa, the chairman of the Borno State Committee on Internally Displaced Persons.
His description of conditions in Bama, backed by other refugees who recently fled the town, contradicts claims of the Nigerian military. The military says troops backed by helicopter gunships wrested the town from Boko Haram control Sept. 2.
Residents who have fled Bama to the nearest city of Maiduguri in recent days say that effort hasn’t been enough to push out Boko Haram insurgents, which they say now move freely on the roads of northeastern Nigeria. Even Bama’s ranking municipal leader, the Shehu of Bama, Alhaji Kyari Ibn Ibrahim Elkenemi, is camped out in Maiduguri. So are another 12,000 Bama refugees, according to the government’s National Emergency Management Agency.
Scores of small towns and villages have been seized across Borno state, which is about the size and population of Ireland. On Friday, Boko Haram began attacking the town of Konduga, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Bama, said two vigilantes stationed nearby. The outcome of that battle wasn’t yet clear.
Nigeria’s government has responded by escalating a bombing campaign and by purchasing new air-force hardware. Nigeria’s legislature is currently considering a $1 billion loan for the military, much of which would go toward new acquisitions.
Boko Haram, meanwhile, poses a challenging target. Some of the group’s fighters are camped out in government buildings, residents said, including a police station and a prison. But others come and go from the town, residing in better hidden and fortified camps outside Bama.
“I don’t think that the air force strategy is working,” said Jacob Zenn, an Africa analyst at the Jamestown Foundation research institution in Washington. “It doesn’t change the on-ground reality that Boko Haram can retreat to the bush and then come back.”
The group also shows signs of taking new risks, he said. Boko Haram recently appointed a spokesman for the first time since its previous spokesman was declared killed by Nigeria’s military in 2012.
“The town of Bama is under our control,” declared the purported spokesman, who called himself Abu Zinnira. He made the comment earlier in the week via an audio statement obtained by local reporters.
Boko Haram has also begun echoing the language of Islamic State, the Iraqi-Syrian insurgency 2,000 miles away. In recent weeks, its presumed leader, a man calling himself Abubakar Shekau, declared his northeastern Nigerian homeland an independent caliphate in a video that began with an outpouring of praise for Islamic State.