With over 1,000 people killed in the insurgency since President Muhammad Buhari was elected in March and pledged to halt the six-year-old Islamic uprising blamed for the deaths of some 20,000, Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists are strengthening ties with the Islamic State group (ISID).
As shown by reports, Nigerian Islamic militants are fighting in Libya, even as there were recent arrests in Lebanon and India and the blocking of thousands of suspected extremists from leaving Nigeria.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS in March and in June was declared its West African province.
An estimated 80 to 200 Boko Haram
fighters are in the Libyan city of Sirte, according to Nigeria analyst, Jacob Zenn, in The Sentinel magazine of the Washington-based Jamestown
Algerian security forces believe Boko Haram fighters have joined other militants in northern Niger, Zenn wrote.
“The openness of migration routes
from Nigeria through eastern Niger to Libya makes travel … fairly straightforward, and the Islamic State can easily afford to pay smugglers to carry militants (and weapons) along that route,” wrote Zenn.
Further evidence of Boko Haram’s links with IS is the arrest on August 15 by Lebanese authorities of hard-line IS cleric Ahmad al-Assir at Beirut airport.
They said he planned to fly to Nigeria on a forged Palestinian passport with a Nigerian visa.
The Nigeria Immigration Service
reported barring 23,472 people from
leaving the country between January
2014 and March 2015.
“There have been reports in recent
times of some Nigerians departing to
join terrorist groups especially in the
Middle East and North Africa,” said PR Nigeria, which publishes government news.
Two Nigerians studying in India were
arrested August 7 as they tried to
cross illegally into Pakistan, planning to join IS in Iraq, it said.