Monday, February 1, 2016

Boko Haram kills at least 86 people in a horrific attack on a village. USA Today.

Women and children sit in the wreckage of Dalori village. AFP/Getty

Boko Haram has killed at least 86 people in a horrific attack on the village of Dalori in Nigeria. USA Today. Eyewitnesses report that the ISIS aligned terror group firebombed huts and burned children alive. Three female suicide bombers blew themselves up during the attack, targeting people fleeing from the violence. 86 bodies have been recovered from the charred remains of Dalori, many of them riddled with bullets. At least 62 survivors are being treated for wounds suffered in the attack, most of which consists of burns. The attackers also targeted refugee camps holding 25,000 people. Boko Haram was driven back by Nigerian soldiers but only when those soldiers deployed heavy weapons. The scale of the attack refutes claims by the Nigerian government that Boko Haram was unable to conduct major attacks after major setbacks for the terrorist group. In the six years Boko Haram has been active, they have killed at least 20,000 people and driven millions from their homes. 

My Comment:
Nobody seems to care about Boko Haram. I know for my blog specifically, my posts about Boko Haram tend to get way fewer views then my typical posts. In the international media, Boko Haram's constant and horrific attacks rarely get more then a passing mention. Indeed, I think the only reason this attack made an impact is because of the fact that they firebombed children. Even among Jihadists, Boko Haram is rarely brought up, even though they have conducted more terrorist bombings in 2015 then anyone else. Despite their horrific attacks, Boko Haram just doesn't seem to get the international attention that other groups, such as ISIS or al-Qaeda get. 

Why is this? I think people just don't care all that much about Africa. Sure, Ebola got a lot of coverage but that was because it was a threat globally. The attacks in Tunisia and Egypt conducted by ISIS? That got coverage as well but mostly because they both targeted Western tourists. Libya seems to be the only conflict in the region that gets regular attention, and that is largely due to political reasons. After all, the EU and America are the reason the country is in the state it is in, and that fact can be used as a political weapon against certain people. Everything else that happens in Africa gets ignored.

Boko Haram just doesn't have much of an impact on westerners. Occasionally, Boko Haram will cross a line that galvanizes people for a short time, like when they abducted a bunch of girls which started the #bringbackourgirls movement, but that attention never lasts long. I just don't think people care when Africans kill Africans, especially when they don't see the killing as a threat to Western interests. To date, Boko Haram hasn't conducted major terrorist attacks outside of the region and haven't created the flashy propaganda films that ISIS has made (though they are getting better at that). It's easy for people outside the region to ignore them because they simply aren't much of a threat. For now. Much like Al-Nusra Front in Syria, that could change in the future, and they are certainly skilled at conducting terror attacks. If Boko Haram were to expand to international terrorism outside the region, they would be a formidable foe.  

The level of atrocities committed by Boko Haram often exceed even ISIS. Firebombing children is almost routine for them and they have done far worse. For example, Boko Haram often uses women and children as suicide bombers. Often these people don't even know what is happening. Boko Haram may, for example, pay a child to deliver a package for them without ever telling them it is a bomb. Other times they force the children to strap on a bomb and kill their countrymen. That's a level of evil rare even among Jihadist groups. 

Boko Haram is also fairly extreme in their ideology. Boko Haram literally translates to "western education is a sin/forbidden". They are opposed to education of any kind and often target colleges and schools. They think that all education is un-Islamic, with the exception of anything gleamed from the Koran. They also consider other forms of Islam to be sinful and often targets Christians in their attacks. The attacks against other faiths is rather common for Jihadist groups but what little outrage attacks on Christians get is mostly focused on the ones still left in the Middle East, not Africa. 

Boko Haram is also linked to ISIS. Officially they claim to be ISIS's West Africa province but in reality the links are tenuous. Though they support ISIS and have pledged allegiance to them, there is little evidence that the two groups are cooperating in any real way. There is little to no exchange of fighters, equipment and other kinds of support. The two groups are very similar in tactics and strategy though and their beliefs are almost identical. But their is little to suggest that their alliance is anything more then a symbolic one. I almost see them as wannabees, posers compared to the big dogs like ISIS and al-Qaeda. They have the brutality and determination to be like ISIS but they just don't get that level of respect or fear. 

Finally, Boko Haram is largely seen as a spent force. In the past they controlled quite a bit of territory in Nigeria but they were pushed back and all of their bases were destroyed. Nigeria even went so far as to declare victory against them. Obviously, this attack shows that the announcement was premature at best and completely divorced from reality at worst. My guess is that the danger posed by Boko Haram never really went away. When the announcement was made Boko Haram was still conducting major terrorist attacks quite frequently, using suicide bombings to great effect and conducting smaller scale raids. Still, the group is a lot less powerful then it once was, but this attack goes to show that they have not been defeated and are still a major threat in the region. A threat that I don't see going away anytime soon. 

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