In 2015, when Boko Haram declared that it pledged allegiance to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, there were fears that the ferocious death cult in northeast Nigeria would take on an international dimension.
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Notoriously famous for its brutal slaughter of thousands, the two world’s deadliest designated terrorist organizations were now officially linked.
There were rumors and concern of potential influx of foreign fighters to the countries surrounding Lake Chad and an escalation of a previously localized conflict.
Going by the happenings 12 months later, Boko Haram appears a considerably weaker force and apparently in disarray after the continuous, unflinching counter-offensive operations by the Nigerian military.
The Nigerian Army has since then increasingly dealt crushing blows against remnants of the militants and their strongholds plus the liberation of thousands living under Boko Haram control.
Confirming the insidious fall of one of world’s most ruthless death cults, Abubakar Shekau; leader of the pack, was last heard of since his audio message published on March 7, 2015 pledging an oath to his ISIS counterpart Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Last week, scores of emaciated-looking Boko Haram fighters, begging for food surrendered to Nigerian Forces. The West African country also called on many of the two million people internally displaced by the conflict to return home.
Social commentators have long viewed the announced tie-up as propaganda for both sides.
Speaking to AFP on the matter, Nigerian security analyst Abdullahi Bawa Wase said:
“Nothing has changed in the Boko Haram camp since Shekau’s declaration.”
“It has failed to bring in ISIS fighters. It has not attracted ISIS weapons and cash, which many feared would happen.
“On the contrary, Boko Haram is weaker than it was before the declaration, which is evident from the drastic drop in deadly attacks. Even the rate of suicide bombings has slowed.”
Another security source averred that ISIS was “only a marketing label which Boko Haram wants to use to deceptively project itself as a formidable terrorist group”.
It will be recalled, Shekau’s declaration and the subsequent re-branding of Boko Haram as “ISIS West Africa Province” or ISWAP caused a reported rift in the Boko Haram hierarchy.