Muslim terrorists in Africa, long exhibiting a willingness to use any method of warfare, now are recruiting children to fight battles, kidnapping them and forcing them into servitude if they are unwilling to cooperate, and even drugging them to get them to complete their jobs, according to an analyst for IntelligenceCommunity.com.
Maha Hamdan, who also is an analyst for Consultancy Africa, told WND the jobs include suicide-bombing missions, acting as human shields for soldiers and filling up the front lines against Nigerian federal troops.
The members of the terrorist group Boko Haram have previously exhibited their willingness to take advantage of children. In April, nearly 300 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, in Borno State, Nigeria. They are still being sought by authorities.
Hamdan briefed WND on the latest moves.
“Boko Haram attacks raise alarm because, following the new onslaught by Nigerian troops to reclaim seized communities from Boko Haram terrorists in the North East, the insurgents have resorted to using women and children as human shields in order to halt or slow down the troops’ advance,” Hamdan said.
Some are recruited, some kidnapped and killed.
“A senior security source in the [state] disclosed that the terrorists, while carrying out their recruitment, rape and kill some of the young captives who are reluctant to join them,” she said.
“The source said that in most cases, children and teenagers are forced to be in the forefront in the battle against the Nigerian troops through ambushing and suicide bombing; and there are established cases of women and children getting involved in terrorist acts like recent bombings in schools,” Hamdan said.
Children are also used as suicide bombers, as a student suicide bomb attack killed 50 students this week at the Government Science and Technical College in Potiskum.
“On several occasions, the Nigerian military has captured small children who were forced to take up arms against the state with some of them behaving abnormally due to indoctrination and inducement through the use of hard drugs,” Hamdan said, citing insider information.
“Most of the children, especially teenagers, were recruited through abduction, kidnapping and enticement with money after which they undergo brainwashing and combat training. Those that are unwilling to cooperate are punished or summarily executed,” Hamdan said, citing the source.
WND reported in October that the terrorist organization was recruiting women for suicide-bomb attacks and that women carried out eight of the most recent suicide bombings.
“I was told that the female suicide bombers’ families each receive a $400 per month stipend for two years. That’s quite a large amount in terms of the circumstances they find themselves in,” Solomon said
Analysts also said Boko Haram has expanded its operational base through the recent wave of attacks on sites along the Nigeria-Cameroon border and at least six villages inside Cameroon.
“I see Boko Haram’s attacks can’t do anything but get more intense. The news of Boko Haram’s offensive into Cameroon comes at the same time as churches attempt to contain tens of thousands of Nigerian refugees and internally displaced people,” Hamdan said.
Solomon says the expansion is a worry.
“They are spreading into the West Africa region with their recruitment in neighboring countries growing apace. Their recruiting has been helped by their successes,” he said. “The Economic Community of West African States and the African Union are both useless whilst international players are wary to cooperate with the Nigerians since there are elements within the government working with Boko Haram. I am afraid it is just going to get worse.”
The terrorists already control a significant part of Northern Nigeria. Yan St. Pierre, CEO of the Berlin-based security and counterterrorism consulting firm MOSECON, says that what is happening in Nigeria follows a common pattern employed by insurgency and guerrilla groups.
“This strategy has various aspects but the key elements include consolidating key routes around Maiduguri and across the northeast of Nigeria; securing resources and smuggling routes; establishing forward bases further south in Nigeria, using national parks as cover,” St. Pierre said.
“They’re also using IEDs and suicide bombers to shock and distract authorities and civilians while they carry out smaller, but nonetheless very important, attacks on strategically relevant towns, a tactic commonly seen in places like Syria and Iraq,” St. Pierre said.
He said he believes it’s simply a return to Boko Haram’s normal routine of violence.
“This is not a resurgence of Boko Haram attacks, but a ‘return to normalcy’ as observed in 2014,” St. Pierre said.
Dealing with the threat
Solomon adds that Boko Haram’s recent actions reveal a sentiment of invincibility.
“They certainly believe they are unstoppable because they have attacked the military which have retreated, they have demonstrated superior tactics and firepower and as a result they are growing more confident,” Solomon said.
Hamdan added the present wave of attacks has its origins in an incident that took place in June of this year.
“In June, Lapido Media reported that 520,000 people had moved away from northern Nigeria, including into Cameroon, because of the conflict. The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR made its latest appeal of $34 million to ‘provide lifesaving assistance’ to 75,000 Nigerians who had left the country since last year,” Hamdan said.
The fear factor
A missionary to Africa, who asks only to be identified as Bill, said Boko Haram’s attacks have spread a wave of fear over the people in Northeast Nigeria.
“I have been doing a lot of praying for the relatives and friends of those killed and for those who had to flee. A Bible college professor I know and a student fled just in time before the road to Yola was closed. After a short time in Ilorin, she returned back to Yola. Boko Haram probably has her as a target and probably had me as a target,” Bill said.
Bill said several churches in the Yola and Mubi areas were burned, but the housing compound where he stayed was spared. However, he says Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks have separated friends and families.
“This professor hasn’t been able to talk to the guards at the school for a while because the two villages are a 40-minute walk apart,” Bill said. “The best army officer in Mubi had to leave about six months ago because he was a main target of the terrorists. He was transferred to the south somewhere. He was a good friend.”