Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group based in Kanamma in the northern part of Nigeria. According to Mohammed and Haruna (2010), Boko Haram strongly opposes laws made by the Nigerian government and advocates strict adherence to the Sharia Laws from Islam. Mohammed Yusuf founded the Boko Haram group in 2001, and it allegedly receives support from Jihad members in Middle East countries. A translation of the name Boko Haram into English means western education is sinful. In other words, Boko Haram has strong anti-western focus.
According to the Nigerian government, the group has deployed frequent attacks on Christians through direct assaults and bombing of churches (Yusufu, et al., 2012; Ukanah & Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, 2011). National statistics and reports provided by the Nigeria government postulates that Boko Haram was responsible for the killings of more than five hundred people in Nigeria in 2011. Within the first four years of its operations, members of Boko Haram group reportedly killed more than ten thousand people. The Nigerian government also reported that Boko Haram killed approximately six hundred and twenty five people during the first six months of its operations. In July 2009, the group became known internationally after a strong violence that erupted in Nigeria leaving more than one thousand people dead. In 2010, a U.S. commander linked the group with an Al-Qaeda group based in Maghreb (Zenn, 2012). In January 2012, the group burned down a police patron van in the city of Kano in the northern part of Nigeria. During the incident, a police officer and two women were killed.
According to the United States, Boko Haram expanded its terrorist attacks to include international targets such as Embassy buildings of United States and other Western countries (United States, 2011). In August 2011, Boko Haram attacked the United Nations building in Abuja. The terrorist attacks of Boko Haram have become more sophisticated and complex. It is believed that members of the group have been receiving training on bombing and other terrorist tactics from Al-Qaeda (Zenn, 2012). Although the main source of grievances of the group are not known, most of its members have cited disappointment by the political leaders as the source of their problems.
Effects of Terrorist Activities of Boko Haram on the Peaceful Co-Existence of Nigeria. In December 2011 and February 2012, the Boko Haram group deployed consecutive attacks against several churches northern Nigeria. Such attacks that have been targeting only Christians have created great tension between the two religious groups. Consequently, the peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims faithful have been tainted and ruined. Furthermore, Forest and the Joint Special Operations University (2012) argue that the main goal of the group is to destabilize the country. Boko Haram is also accused of trafficking weapons to Niger.
In my view, these attacks on Nigeria by Boko Haram has been troubling important infrastructural and socio-economic developments in the region as well as scaring away investors from the international community. Moreover, major economic activities such as trade, exportation of oil, mining and farming have also been negatively affected by terrorist activities of the group. The group has also caused inter-tribal clashes and rivalry in the northern part of Nigeria.
Ideologically, the group intends to make Nigeria a “better” nation by strict adherence to Islam and Sharia laws (Ishaku, 2009). This has resulted into strong opposition of this ideology by Christians from Nigeria. Consequently, the relationship between Christians and Muslims have been ruined and devastated. Generally, the terrorism activities of Boko Haram have also divided the nation along religious lines. According to government statistics, Boko Haram has turned from casual attacks on civilians and police stations to crude bombings. In 2011, the group deployed seventy four bombs in various parts of northern Nigeria. The group also turned its target towards public places in the attacks. For example, in May 2011, Boko Haram bombed an army barracks in Bauchi state killing more than twenty people.
Intelligence Gathering. Intelligence gathering refers to the process of collecting information relating to a particular organization or phenomenon based on a variety of information available within and outside the organization. Through intelligence gathering, a person may be able to forecast the future behavior or conduct of the organization in question as well as recommend alternative courses of actions in tackling future challenges. Governments and related security agencies such as armies or militaries and law enforcement agencies like the police usually use intelligence gathering to conduct researches on terrorist groups. Intelligence gathering entails collecting, reviewing and analyzing past and present information available about a particular organization or situation. Various techniques such as networking and mapping, imagery, observations and electronic communication can be used during intelligence gathering.
How Proper Intelligence Gathering Could Help the Intelligence Community in Nigeria Deal with Boko Haram. In relation to the Boko Haram group in Nigeria, the intelligence community may use intelligence gathering to collect information relating to the organizational structure, funding, operations and network or linkages of the group. In my view, such information is critical for proper confrontation of the group by the Nigerian government. Moreover, the Nigerian government may engage in collaborative efforts with the United States and other Western countries to collect specific intelligence information on the operational aspects of Boko Haram, its cross-border relationships and sources of funds and weapons. For example, in January 2010, the intelligence community in Nigeria discovered that some members of Boko Haram attempted to rob a local bank in Bakori. Further investigations revealed that the group finances most of its activities through robbing local banks. In my view, such information is crucial in curtailing the activities of the group.
Through intelligence gathering, Nigeria authorities may also lay investigations on Nigerian citizens living in Middle East countries like Pakistan who might have close connections with the Boko Haram. For instance, the intelligence community has also discovered that the group sometimes receives funding from prominent persons in Nigeria who with adequate access to resources and power.
According to Forest and the Joint Special Operations University (2012), most of the activities of the group are concentrated in the northern part of Nigeria, thus the group can be easily eliminated. Moreover, the group has found it difficult to find sympathy or support from people in southern Nigeria.
Impacts of Terrorist Activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, United States of America and the International Community with respect to Supply of Crude Oil. Nigeria has been a key strategic and business ally of the United States of America. According to the United States, Nigeria is one of the largest exporters of crude oil to the United States of America (2011). In my view, terrorist activities of Boko Haram would have extreme negative implications of the supply and availability of crude oil in the U.S. According to the U.S. House of Representatives, the group has been focusing on domestic issues but also have the potential of extending its attacks on the international community.
Terrorist activities of Boko Haram may derail the production of crude oil in Nigeria, thus affecting its export to international markets such as u.s. markets. Reduction in supply of crude oil would lead to shortages in supply of gas in the United States. Consequently, the prices of gas would go up. Similarly, a decline in supply of crude oil from Nigeria would also lead to a decrease in supply of crude oil in the world markets. This would lead to increase in prices of various products made from crude oil such as diesel, petrol and cooking gas. For example, in early 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in four major states in northern Nigeria, namely Yobe, Borno, Plateau and Niger. This resulted into closure of the international border in the northern part of Nigerian, hence tampering with smooth flow of goods and services in and out of Nigeria.
In my opinion, Boko Haram poses a great threat to national security and economy of Nigeria. The negative impacts of the terrorist activities of the group would also be felt by other nations such as the U.S, which greatly depend on Nigeria for its crude oil supplies. Global economic activities would also be affected because Nigeria is a major supplier of crude oil to the international community. Additionally, neighboring countries such as Niger and Chad may also be affected.
Therefore, it is important for Nigerian authorities to appropriately use intelligence gathering techniques to collect crucial information that may help Nigerian government in confronting the threats posed by Boko Haram group. In my opinion, the activities of the group require urgent response before it advances. Moreover, the international community, including U.S, the United Nations and other anti-terrorism organizations should assist the Nigerian government in establishing fully functional counterterrorism forces or agencies to deal with and defeat Boko Haram. Otherwise, the activities of Boko Haram would pose greater challenges to the political and economic stability and governance of Nigeria and its allied nations.