This is a scary revelation made by U.S. counterterrorism officials and other experts who cover West Africa. Despite several months of military success against the organization by Chadian and Nigerian forces, optimism is waning as Boko Haram has retaken the lead, according to NBC News.
Boko Haram attacked a police academy in Chad’s capital city of N’Djamena last weekend, killing several officers and recruits. The Islamist terror organization also killed dozens of Nigerians in a series of recent attacks around Maiduguri, the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast, as well as in Bauchi, Nigeria.
Via NBC News:
“You can quibble on this and that, but yes, they are winning,” said John Campbell, the Ralph Bunche Center director at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. Campbell said that Western observers had “way overstated” the territorial gains by Nigerian and Chadian forces that dislodged Boko Haram from small towns it had overrun in the spring.
“There have been successes,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official. “But it’s whack-a-mole. Boko Haram does strategic retreats. … They will move out from the forest into the countryside, attacking villages, then when confronted will beat a retreat and carry out bombings in Maiduguri. … We’ve just had three days of bombings in Maiduguri. It had quieted down in Maiduguri.”
Officials in Nigeria and four neighboring countries — Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin — have been trying to form an 8,700-man fighting force to battle Boko Haram. Both the United States and France has been helping with intelligence and other support, but the multinational force is still has no central command.
So Boko Haram retains the initiative, and commands the pace. The group has also solidified its connection with ISIS, referring to itself in a June 1 video as the “Islamic State, West Africa Province,” ans is borrowing the Arab terror group’s military ideas.
Though U.S. officials say there’s no evidence that ISIS has supplied Boko Haram with anything other than production help on social media, J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, says there’s evidence of what he called “revolutionary” military tactics inspired by ISIS.
“What I have seen is increasing sophistication in confronting Nigerian forces,” said Pham. “In attacks on Nigerian forces, it’s always been see-saw battles for control. What’s interesting is that tactics have changed.”
Before, said Pham, the Nigerians would flee and Boko Haram would advance. “That’s still ongoing,” he said. “Now, however, Boko Haram is attacking on two of three sides and will put the bulk of their forces on the escape route and the Nigerians are getting ambushed. That’s a military revolution.”
The counterterrorism official agrees, saying Boko Haram is showing “a lot more nimbleness.”
The attack on N’Djamena is a bold move by Boko Haram, say experts, because it will spur reprisals from Chad. The French-trained Chadians, who already have 5,000 soldiers committed to the fight, are seen as the “warriors” of the region, U.S. officials say, compared to the other national armies. But there are issues with the way Chadians fight.
“They are fearless and have the best training in the region. In short, they bring it,” said an official. “On the other hand, they think direct combat is the best. As a result, they tend to lose more people. They think body armor wimpy,” said the official.
In a long war, that tends to be problematic, the official added. “Neither Chad nor Nigeria nor Niger nor Cameroon have the troops to sustain a long-term effort.”
Chad has asked the U.S. to help, but so far the U.S. has been hesitant since this is no small arms task, it’s a full on war. Officials believe that Boko Haram is aiming to recreate the pre-colonial Islamic Emirate of Borno, which includes parts of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. They have also noted that there have been no changes in the Nigerian military, which has been deamed “not a good fighting force.”
Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Isis, Osiris, Horus, and e’rrybody need to grab the wheel.
Read the full story at NBC.