Members of an offshoot of the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram claim they have executed the seven foreign hostages they captured in a raid last month.
The group Ansaru, or Ansar al-Muslimeen in the Land of Black Africans (Bilad al-Sudan), said it killed the foreign oil company workers in retaliation for rescue attempts by British and Nigerian forces.
The group made the announcement in a video clip.
The execution of the foreign hostages comes only days after 10 people, including a number of children, were killed in a terrorist attack in Nigeria’s Plateau State.
Machete-wielding gunmen entered an apartment building and opened fire. The attackers also used the machetes to slash their victims.
Assist News Service reports the pastor of the church attended by most of the victims says the attack was Islamic terrorism.
“There is no doubt that this is an Islamic agenda. It is a plan to wipe us Christians out of this part of Nigeria,” John Mwatbang said in a statement.
Terrorism analyst and Long War Journal Editor Bill Roggio said that while the culprits are unknown, the Jos-area attack is similar to Boko Haram’s style.
“It’s possible that it could have been simply sectarian violence, but I suspect it’s them (Boko Haram). Yet, no group has taken responsibility,” Roggio said.
For Nigerians, the two attacks days apart signal that Christians in the country have to be prepared to defend against attacks from two militant Islamic groups, Ansaru and Boko Haram.
While both groups recently have carried out attacks, International Christian Concern’s Africa analyst William Stark said the Boko Haram-Ansaru relationship is complex.
“Boko Haram v. Ansaru is a pretty detailed issue. Both groups come from the same beginnings, but they now seem to be separate groups with a somewhat related goal,” Stark said.
WND reported in January that Ansaru broke away from Boko Haram in a dispute over operational policy.
Analysts suggest Ansaru’s only interest is in attacking foreigners and “non-Muslim Nigerians.” However, the Strategy World military think tank, publishers of Strategy Page, warns Ansaru may be picking targets outside Nigeria.
“Ansaru appears to be … more interested (than Boko Haram) in working closely with Islamic terror groups operating in the new terrorist sanctuary of northern Mali,” the Strategy Page report said.
Boko Haram, meanwhile, seems to have its focus on Nigeria.
The Guardian of London said Ansaru’s objective is straightforward. Ansaru wants to draw Western nations into Nigeria’s civil war and tribal conflicts.
“While Boko Haram (which means ‘Western education is a sin’ in Hausa) has aimed to destabilize the government of Christian southerner Goodluck Jonathan by undermining his ability to guarantee the security of Africa’s most populous nation, Ansaru appears determined to drag foreign governments into an otherwise domestic conflict by kidnapping and killing foreigners, according to Sola Tayo, an associate fellow at the Chatham House thinktank,” the paper reported.
Last spring, WND reported Boko Haram was planning a full-scale civil war in Nigeria.
Late last spring, Boko Haram also announced its intent to “wipe Christianity from the face of the earth.”
Heritage Foundation Africa analyst Steven Bucci warned that the threat from Boko Haram continues.
“Boko Haram is still active and still very dangerous. They are creating Christian martyrs pretty much every day,” Bucci said.
Bucci says Boko Haram hasn’t abandoned the goal of a Shariah state for Nigeria.
“They’d still love to take the country,” Bucci said. “But for now the regime is beating them back.”
Roggio doubts the effectiveness of the Nigerian military campaign against Boko Haram.
“Boko Haram may be slowing down their activities for now. I’m not so sure the government has had an impact on Boko Haram’s operations,” Roggio said.
Noting Boko Haram has bases in Mali, he said it’s possible the group is operating with its partner Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, Roggio said.
However, Roggio said there could be another explanation.
“They could be trying to tone down their operations and let the Nigerian government get complacent. That’s a favorite tactic of many insurgency and terrorist groups,” Roggio said. “They slow down for a while and then the government thinks the group is defeated. Then, the group ramps up its operations and goes active again.”