The motive fueling the recent kidnapping of 186 Kurdish school children by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria also was behind Boko Haram’s May seizure of more than 250 school girls in Nigeria, according to Middle East and terrorism analysts.
While an immediate goal is to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of Islam, the ultimate aim is for the children, their parents and their communities to adopt the jihadists’ fundamental Islamic beliefs and submit to Shariah, or Islamic law, said Heritage Foundation Middle East analyst Jim Phillips.
Boko Haram’s campaign of terror includes massacres of Christians and destruction of their churches. Only a few dozen of the schoolgirls have been able to escape their captors, and the government has declared a state of emergency across the region.
ISIS recently was blamed for the kidnapping of the boys from Syria who had traveled to Aleppo for academic testing. They were on their way home when terrorists intercepted a convoy of minibuses and took the boys to Minbej for “training.”
“The two groups are very similar in one sense, because it’s one way for the terrorists to impose their will and intimidate the parents of these young people, not just the young people themselves,” Phillips said.
Phillips said it’s possible that one of the ISIS objectives for the kidnappings is to brainwash the teenage boys and turn them into suicide bombers.
Reports by The Australian and Britain’s Daily Mail confirm Phillips’ concern that one of the motives for ISIS for the series of kidnappings is to try to convince Kurdish school boys to become jihadists.
WND reported in June that some of the kidnapped school girls have been sold into slavery. The Los Angeles Daily News reported in May that one of Boko Haram’s objectives is to brainwash the girls into supporting the Nigerian terrorist group’s cause.
Another major goal is to put a rope around the children’s parents to control them, Phillips believes.
“One of the primary purposes would be intimidating the parents, to influence them to move away, or to facilitate some sectarian cleansing,” Phillips said.
WND reported in March 2012 that Boko Haram’s intention was to eradicate Christianity from northern Nigeria.
Phillips said it’s important to remember that Middle East jihadists are “revolutionaries who are using terrorism for their purpose” of advancing Islam.
WND reported last week that an objective for ISIS is to redraw the borders of the Middle East by smashing the “partitioning of Muslim lands by crusader powers.”
The goal is outlined in an article in its latest weekly
Web magazine, The Islamic State Report, a professionally designed mouthpiece meant to recruit would-be jihadist fighters from the West.
Revolution is also on the mind of Boko Haram. WND reported in June 2012 that the leadership of the Nigerian jihadist group declared that its goal is nothing less than a breakaway Shariah state in Nigeria’s north.
“This is a way to win supporters, to intimidate enemies and give them a taste of power and a sense of righteousness,” Phillips said. “It’s also about holding the group together and strengthening the fanaticism of the group.”
A former CIA station chief who asked not to be named said the two groups most likely draw support and inspiration from one another.
“It is a global jihad and the different elements of it have always drawn from each others’ tactics to achieve the same strategies and objectives,” he said.
“Boko Haram draws directly from Muhammad and al-Qaida, and there can be no doubt that savvy Internet operators like ISIL/ISIS [are] aware of the positive benefits Boko Haram gained from kidnapping 300 students and killing others,” the former station chief said.
Center for Security Policy Senior Analyst Clare Lopez said there is a common source for the motives driving the two kidnappings.
“Kidnapping the Kurdish boys is somewhat similar to Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the girls, in that Islamic doctrine sanctions such behavior on both counts,” Lopez said. “This is just what Muslims on jihad do, whenever and wherever they are.”
While Phillips said he believes ISIS may be trying to neutralize Kurdish opposition using fear for the safety of the children, Lopez believes the kidnappings could have the opposite effect.
“It’s doubtful the overall Kurdish leadership will be anything but enraged. They will wreak vengeance for this kidnapping, maybe even succeed in getting the boys back,” Lopez said.
She added that the Kurds will fiercely defend their territory.
“They have the population numbers and fighting prowess to succeed. This is their best chance in a century to carve out an autonomous homeland for themselves,” she said.
Lopez said that while Boko Haram likely will use the kidnapped girls as sex slaves, ISIS will treat the boys as the Ottomans did Balkan boys.
“They want to deplete Kurdish male numbers, of course, but also to brainwash and turn these boys into jihad fighters to turn back against their own people,” she said.
Consultancy Africa analyst and former U.S. Embassy in Beirut staff member Maha Hamdan noted ISIS has the same Islamic supremacist doctrine as Boko Haram, al-Qaida, the perpetrators of the Syrian massacres against the Alawites, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and many other jihadist groups.