A new report has shown that two terrorist groups are responsible for slightly more than half of terrorism fatalities across the globe. These groups are the Boko Haram and Islamic State. For the first time in history terrorism is at its highest levels, thanks to the activities of the two terror groups. The studies have also shown that Boko Haram, the Nigerian militant terrorist outfit kills more people as compared to its allies in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State. These two groups were responsible for a combined total of 51 percent global fatalities in the year 2014. According to Global Terrorism Index, 40 percent of all fatalities are those that have been committed by either of these two groups. The deadliest terror groups in the world are Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, Fulani militants and As-Shabaab in that order. Their atrocities have mostly been felt in Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Syria in the same order. Ever since it announced its creation of caliphate in Iraq and Syria in June 2014, Isis has not only sought but also achieved notoriety around the globe. It has its own media outfit that disseminates propaganda messages and videos that are either intended to strike fear into its perceived enemies or inspire supporters. The group has also taken responsibilities for the terror attacks in Paris and in Egypt, where a plane was brought down killing all the 229 people on board. On its part, Boko Haram has extended its attacks beyond Nigeria into Cameroon and Chad where it has staged 46 attacks and killed more than 520 people.
The majority of the assaults orchestrated by Boko Haram involve the use of machine guns to carry out armed assaults. However, lately the group in gradually employing the use of bombs and explosives, ostensibly because of the kind of trainings they received from other terrorist organizations (Al Jazeera, 2016). The main aim of this paper is to explore the reasons and circumstances that make Boko Haram more deadly than ISIS. It will begin by proving the available data to support the two group’s atrocities and go ahead to dissect into the operation of Boko Haram that qualifies it as the more deadly of the two.
In the March 2015, Boko Haram pledges allegiance to IS. They have so far killed more than 6,644 people as compared to 6,073 that IS has butchered. As a result, a rise in terrorism related deaths by a whopping 300 percent was recorded in Nigeria in the year 2014. Nonetheless, Nigeria has some other militant groups carrying out atrocities as well. For instance, the Fulani militants killed close to 1,229 people in Nigeria. Conversely, in the same year of 2014, IS murdered more people in combats than in terrorism acts. Because of Islamic militant, more than 20,000 deaths have occurred from clashes between non state and state combatants in 2014. In 2013 deadliest group, the Taliban was relegated to position 3 even though it killed 3,477 people. This represented an increase of 38 percent in fatalities. In terms of battlefield murders, Taliban remains the deadliest after IS.
Reasons Why Boko Haram Is More Deadly than ISIS
Instrumentality: Women as Pawns
Boko Haram is engaged in women’s instrumental use, which is in retaliation with the corresponding tactics of the government. In January 2012, the group’s leader delivered a message in form of a video message, which he threatened to kidnap the official’s wives from the government in retaliation to the action of the government to imprison Boko Haram members’ wives. It carried its first kidnapping in Nothern Cameroon of a seven member French family that included four children and brought them back to Nigeria. In May 2013, the terrorist group continued with their abduction strategy when twelve officials of the government were kidnapped in Borno State, the main base of Boko Haram. In the same month, the terrorists conducted a mass ambush on a police barracks, which is located in Borno State’s Bama and captured twelve Christian children and women. The battle that ensued after this abduction left more than one hundred people dead. Shekau later released a video demanding for the release from prison of members of his outfit and their wives failure to which he would turn the hostages to be his servants.
Shekau’sstatement was a reaction to the 2012 arrest of the wives as well as children of several leaders of Boko Haram including his own wives by the government. Among the individuals arrested by the government included the wives and children of Suleiman Muhammed, who was the commander of Kano and KabiruSokoto, commander of Sokoto. Kabiru’s wife was arrested when pregnant and gave birth while in prison. Among those who were also arrested was the wife of the suicide bomber, who had been known to have attached the media house in April, 2012. This was a strategy employed by the government to strike the heart of the terrorist group through its female members.
The sustained arrests of the militants’ wives forced Boko Haram to revenge by abducting Christian women who did not have any undeviating involvement with the argument. For instance, the women who were abducted by the militants at Bama were only out to visit relatives at the police station. When the women were allowed to go after some weeks, which as in exchange of government’s release of Boko Haram members’ wives, they said that they were told by Boko Haram that they were just being held because the government was holding their wives and children. However, there is no intelligence to link wives and children to carry out atrocities. Book Haram actually used young boys to gather intelligence and carry out arson attacks (Premium Times, 2016).
Evolving Conflict, Evolving Tactics
In a bid to identify and get rid of members of the group, the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) resorted to waylaying male members of the group and arresting them in the wee hours of the morning. Several Boko Haram’s suspects, especially those who are able to speak fluently the Kanuri local language, disappeared. As a result, male suspects of the group became more susceptible to abuse and detention from the JTF volunteers. Book Haram then made an immediate and responsive shift in gender and tactics to be used. Women who feign innocence would be used instead. In June 2013, improvised explosive devices, a pistol and an AK-47 rifle were found in two women’s garments in Maiduguri (Zenn & Pearson, 2014).
Additionally, Boko Haram male members have also employed other tactics of using women veils to disguise themselves and avoid arrests. Some three veiled men were killed and twenty other detained when they attempted to attack a police station in 2013. This is a unique adaptive response technique employed by Boko Haram makes it more deadly than ISIS. ISIS does not use women in front line. Reports show that women are only used as sex slaves for ISIS fighters and not as instruments for carrying weapons and staging attacks. Book Haram takes advantage of the capability of women to escape security checks. They can carry weapons in their clothes without attracting little suspicion.
Targeting and Abusing Christian Women
Christian women in Nigeria’s northern areas are increasingly being subjected to sexual violence such as murder, torture and rape. A past study carried out by Political Violence Research Network of Nigeria found out that more than forty five (45) percent of individuals that have been killed so far by Boko Haram are children and women from the Christian religion. When they are pursued by government security forces, Boko Haram militants abduct women and children as they flee. Women who fall victims to these kidnaps are forced into marriage and forcefully converted into Islam. A case in point involved a 19 year old girl by the name Hajja. Hajja was abducted from Gwoza, her rural home located in Borno State. After being held for several months, she was then converted to Islam forcefully. She was then to be married off to an individual from the group (Kurch, 2014).
A team of fourteen strong men took her over and always pressured her to carry operational tasks. One of her tasks included luring government soldiers into positions of target for ambush by the Boko Haram’s militants. After being captured by the militants, Hajji would be forced to watch their throats being slit. More and more women are in captivity of the Boko Haram experiences similar or worse circumstances as Hajji. This tactical exploitation of women makes Boko Haram more dangerous than ISIS. Despite the notion that the women abduction process by the terror group is considered as tactical, the violence it metes out on Christian women is retributory. In August 2013, Boko Haram militants attacked a university accommodation in Maiduguri. All men found within the precincts of the accommodation were murdered and women were separated into Muslims and non-Muslims. Thereafter, the Christian women were raped systematically. These kinds of attacks against Christian women could also be interpreted as just escalation of the long term and institutional discriminatory practices that have always been meted out against them in the regions of the north (Al Jazeera, 2016).
Both the professional and domestic spheres of these Christian women have been met with broad discriminatory practices. Those women in the northern regions who dare take up jobs or fail to wear the hijab are sometimes attacked with acids for doing non Islamic practices. They are also accused of dishonoring Islam in many cases. A teacher from the Christian religion who confiscated Qur’an from a student sparked a lot of violence, which led to the death of more than fifty women and children Christians. Although ISIS has also been accused of raping women, the outfit has no history of discriminating against Christian women and children because of their different religion (Moore, 2015).