Golden Age of Terror.
Boko Haram’s rapid takeover of an area the size of Belguim, coupled with a series of high profile kidnappings and senseless killings catapulted the Jihadi group into the league of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups. At a point the Jihadi group took on the might of three most powerful militaries in the region (Nigeria,Chad,Cameroon), spreading a reign of terror across three countries.
Boko Haram Armed Forces
At the height of its reign of terror Boko Haram possesed a pretty formidable array of weapons. It was a well equipped fighting force. It didnt become the worlds deadliest terrorist organisation by being ill equiped. If the Jihadi group was a sovereign country, it would have the 3rd largest army in West Africa. To put things into perspective consider these facts : Boko Haram had more battle tanks than the Cameroonian army. It had the largest rocket force in West Africa.
Conservative estimates showed Boko Haram had as many as 20,000 fighters. Thats roughly the size of the Cameroonian army.
Besides ISIS, Boko Haram was the only terrorist group with a dedicated armoured fightng unit. The group had 3 T-55 tanks and 15 Vickers battle tanks, all of which were of course stolen, or gifted by soldiers who abandoned their posts in flight, leaving behind weapons.
Katyusha Rockets ?
Boko Haram’s answer to Nigeria’s multiple launch rocket systems was hundreds of locally fabricated katyusha rockets, most of which were made in the Sambisa forest, its impregnable fortress at the time. How Boko Haram got the know how to fabricate rockets remains a topic of conjecture.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
Boko Haram fielded close to a hundred amoured vehicles of various types. Vehicle like the MOWAB, Otoka Cobra and Piranha was stolen from the Nigerian Army.
Belouga cluster munitions. Stolen from the Nigerian Air force ordnance after a successful attack on a Nigerian Air Force base in 2013. Three decommissioned MiG-21’s and two Mi-24 helicopter gunship were setablaze in that attack. Lacking in an effective delivery system, suicide bombers were used as a delivery system.
Source of Funding
Most estimates for Boko Haram’s earnings are inaccurate because its hard to obtain precise information from the chaos that prevailed in the region, but various estimates puts the groups earnings at between 50 to 100 million dollars. Money is made primarily through ransome payments, illegal smuggling networks, and outright bank robbery.
Boko Haram’s increasing economic empowerment, along with its continuing conquest of territory strengthened its financial confidence and drove it to declare an Islamic Caliphate and swore allegiance to ISIS. Indeed such misguided confidence was a factor in making Boko Haram abandon its hit and run guerilla style mode of operation, for a more conventional mode. It developed an administrative apparatus for its new Caliphate and chose to engage the Nigerian Army conventionally to defend its conquered territory, a fight it cannot hope to win.
By far the most important source of income were “donations” from state actors : France via its proxy, Cameroon and bank robbery. These donations at their peak totalled tens of millions of dollars a year. The “donation” dried up because the Paul Biya regime began to fear that Boko Haram posses a threat to his country.
Another revenue channel is bank robbery. It’s estimated that Boko Haram stole more than $20 million from banks in the territories it conquered.
In 2014 a furor arose between the Cameroonian and Nigerian government when it was revealed Cameroon paid $400,000 USD in ransom, plus arms and ammunition to secure the release of Deputy Prime Minister’s Wife. The woman in question was Francoise Agnes Moukouri, wife of Vice Prime Minister Amoudou Ali.
In 2015 four French citizens held hostage by Boko Haram were freed after the French government paid a multi-million dollar ransome through Cameroonian intermediaries.
Pundits are of the view that the abduction of Mrs Ali from the town of Kolfata was just one of the numerous false flag operations or Maskirova as the Russians call it, to fund Boko Harams reign of destruction in Nigeria via ransome payments.
The most disturbing part of the deal was uncovered when Sahara Reporters published a story that Boko Haram demanded and received a significant supply of arms and ammunitions, including a guarantee by Cameroon that the weapons woukd have safe passage for the insurgents.
Sahara Reporters sources disclosed that President Idris Derby of Chad was instrumental in the negotiations because of his closeness to some Boko Haram commanders.
The year 2014 was meant to be Nigeria’s year, and by an extension Africa’s year. Nigeria had just eclipsed South Africa to become the biggest African economy with a growth rate averaging %6. To commemorate this landmark achievement the Worlds Economic Forum DAVOS was taken place in Abuja, Nigeria, the first time the World Economic Forum will be taken place in a nation outside the G-8. The world’s most powerful leaders descended on Abuja. This was Nigeria’s time.
Instead this event was overshadowed by death and destruction metted out by Boko Haram. Three hundred school girls from Chibok were kidnapped. There were two suicide bombing attacks in a bus terminal in Abuja.
The spotlight was on Boko Haram – the new kid on the block. With unprecedented global media attention Abubakar Shekau was determined to make the most of it. And he did.
So here we have the most powerful country (militarily) in Western Europe, the two most powerful countries in French speaking Africa and the world’s deadliest terrorist group all working together to bring down this behemoth of an African giant.
…..one wonders why.