Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram
3. Terrorism Recruitment (TR) and Boko Haram’s Recruitment Strategy: What Does the Literature Say?
3.1. Terrorist Recruitment: Conceptual Clarification and Theoretical Discussions
3.2. Boko Haram’s Recruitment Strategy
4. What Are the Efforts and Strategies towards Preventing Boko Haram’s Recruitment: National, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), Sub-Regional and Regional Responses?
4.1. National Response
4.2. Response from Faith-Based Organizations and Civil Society Organizations
4.3. Sub-Regional and Regional Response
5. What Are the Challenges Facing Stakeholders in Combating Boko Haram’s Recruitment?
- A new counterterrorism strategy should be adopted that is comprehensive, multidimensional, and involves both state and non-state actors (religious institutions, civil societies, non-governmental organizations) to reflect the current realities and challenges of the 21st century.
- Relevant stakeholders should facilitate the implementation of various initiatives such as the National Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Extremism and other measures designed to curb the activities of terrorist organizations at the local, national, sub-regional, regional, and global levels.
- The sociological, economic, ideological, and religious forces and drivers promoting radicalization and violent extremism across the region should be addressed.
- Religious leaders (clerics) and faith-based organizations across the two dominant religious divides have a role to play in countering the negative ideological and doctrinal teachings used in promoting hate, violent extremism, and tensions in their localities. This can be achieved through emphasis on inter-group relations, cross-cultural engagements, and inter-faith dialogue to foster trust, mutual coexistence, tolerance, and confidence building.
- Actors should engage in capacity-building initiatives that promote technical and vocational training for young people as a source of employment, and a process to grow resilience and prevent them from being easy targets for terrorist recruiters.
- Policies and programs that offer rehabilitation, reintegration, and guarantee the sustainable development of individuals affected by terrorism in the region will be implemented.
- The state and its agencies should convince citizens it has the capacity to address the threat of terrorism by providing effective services and welfare to citizens, and addressing challenges associated with poverty, unemployment, inequality, bad governance, corruption, border porosity, poor education, lack of tolerance, management of diversities, mutual coexistence, bad governance, and corruption amongst others.
- The government and other relevant stakeholders should ensure strict compliance and regulations regarding the activities of Madrasas (religious schools) by ensuring these religious schools are fully licensed, registered, and their teachings are strictly in line with true doctrinal principles and ideals to prevent the exposure of children to negative and extremist religious doctrines.
- Within the context of Boko Haram and the insecurity in Lake Chad, relevant stakeholders should ensure that the channels used by this terrorist group to fund its activities are blocked. First, this involves the use of formal and informal institutions (banks, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) to effectively monitor and track their source of funding. Secondly, stakeholders should reclaim the control of resources (fishing and agricultural products) taking place in the Lake Chad region from the hands of Boko Haram. Finally, stakeholders should stem the illicit movements of contraband products across Lake Chad by the insurgents. These measures will prevent them from recruiting fighters if their sources of funding are stopped.
- The criminal justice system should be strengthened to investigate cases and incidences of human rights violations by actors involved in the counterterrorism effort against Boko Haram, and persons and groups associated with facilitating and supporting the activities of terrorism should be prosecuted.
- Parents have a role to play in ensuring that the negative forces of change and modernization do not in any way affect their children by instilling strict ethical virtues and discipline. Children should be encouraged to understand the value of hard work, honesty, and integrity.
- A community policing model similar to the Nyumba Kumi (Ten Household and Know your Neighbor)42 security initiative should be adopted. This model of community policing has been successful in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in identifying threat forces and also complements the state security agencies in combating crime and mitigates the strategies used by terrorist groups to recruit and expand their activities (Ndono et al. 2019). This security initiative has been effective in strengthening the relationship and trust between locals and law enforcement officers in addressing the challenges of insecurity in East Africa (Ibid). It also contributes to promoting social cohesion, accountability, inter-religious and communal trust among groups in the society as witnessed in Nakuru County in Kenya (Andhoga and Mavole 2017). In a phone interview, an informant revealed that this initiative is an important tool in combating crime, insecurity, and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.43 This is because most societies in East Africa have a 1 to 1000 ratio of security officers to civilians; therefore, the adoption of the Nyumba Kumi can help to bridge the gap between locals and the police by acting as their ‘ears to the ground and eyes on the street’ on threat assessment and intelligence44. This makes it difficult for criminals and terrorist organizations to exploit any avenue to radicalize, recruit, plan, and organize attacks (Ibid). This security initiative has been successful, as witnessed in Tanzania (Sambaiga 2018). The initiative was said to have achieved some level of success in the Kayole and Eastleigh communities in Nairobi, Isiolo County, the coast of Mombasa in Kenya, and some parts of Adjumani District in Uganda by neutralizing the activities of bandits and persons suspected to be associated with Al-Shabaab and the Allied Democratic Forces terrorist groups (Kenya News Agency 2019; IOM UN Migration News 2019). With the successes recorded by this security initiative, the application of a similar model in the Lake Chad region by relevant stakeholders will help to address the challenges of insecurity as well as prevent terrorist groups such as Boko Haram from expanding their activities in the region.
- Although this study focused on Boko Haram’s recruitment across the Lake Chad region, we believe there is connection between the recruitment strategies of Boko Haram and other radical extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) operating across the Lake Chad and Sahel region in West Africa, which other studies can explore.
- A comparative approach to available data is also recommended, as it is likely to present the various operational levels of the terrorist groups across the Lake Chad region in order to fully understand their strategies for recruitment as well as the push and pull factors motivating individuals to joint these terrorist groups.
- In addition to areas for further research, future researchers should try to explore issues related to the current figure of Boko Haram recruits, whether they are rising or falling across Lake Chad, what happens to the repentant and rehabilitated Boko Haram fighters, and how they are integrated back to society.
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Most studies on “Boko Haram” refer to it as the radical Islamic, Salafist, and Jihadist terrorist group which operates in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region of West Africa. The group is driven by anti-Westernism, especially education, labelling it as forbidden. It aims to entrench an Islamic Caliphate in Nigeria and territories perceived to be under its sphere of influence in line with the principles and dictates of Sharia Law (Islamic Law).
In this article, the term is used to explain the five states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe in Nigeria.
The Lake Chad region in this article refers to countries comprising Cameroun, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria.
Mohammed Yusuf, the defunct leader, died after a confrontation between the group and the Nigerian security forces
The term actors or relevant stakeholders is used in this article to refer to states and other non-state actors such as sub-regional and regional groups including ECOWAS, LCBC, Civil Societies and Faith-Based Organizations.
The Maitatsine ragtag Islamic group was a radical sect with over 3000 members under the tutelage of a Cameroonian Islamic Mufti Mohammad Marwa. This sect was predominantly in Kano state, in the Northern part of Nigeria and was principally aimed at bringing Islam back, which they considered then was gradually losing its meaning in the north because of the belief that liberal-oriented values were corrupting the Muslim lifestyle. Therefore, they considered themselves reformists to the tenets and teachings of Islam. Their activities frequently led to violent confrontations with government operatives. These violent confrontations resulted in crises between 1980–85, destroying many lives and properties.
Most studies have offered similar anecdotes on the evolvement of this terrorist organization.
These three languages are mostly and widely spoken by communities and locals across the northeast and Lake Chad region.
Interview with a Senior Lecturer, Center for Peace and Security Studies, Modibbo Adamma University, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, 24 June 2019.
Interview, 24 June 2019.
Author’s discussion with a resident of Maiduguri 18 March 2019.
Interview with a Senior Researcher, Transnational Threats, and International Programme, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa, 7 January 2019
Interview, 7 January.
Author’s Interview with a Community Leader in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, 21 June 2019.
Authors’ findings from most studies on terrorism and Boko Haram.
Interview with an Author, Journalist, and Researcher on Violent Extremism in Northern Nigeria, 30 December 2018.
Phone Interview with a former Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram, 6 November 2018.
Phone Interview, 6 November.
Interview with a former resident of Bama Local Government in Maiduguri, 19 June 2019.
A Boko Haram fighter suspected to be the brain behind the December 2012 Christmas Day bombing at the Catholic Church located at Madallah, Niger State in Northcentral Nigeria.
Interview with the Director of Protocol Church of Christ in Nations, 30 April 2019.
It is an international Non-governmental Organization with the mission of breaking the cycles of violence and building sustainable peace through constructive engagement with communities and groups directly affected by violent conflict.
Interview with a Senior Program Officer at International Alert, North-East Nigeria, 22 September 2019.
Interview, 22 September 2019.
Phone Interview with Mallam B.M., A Peace Club Teacher in Maiduguri, Borno State, 2 August 2019.
Phone Interview, 2 August 2019.
Discussions with A Conflict Resolution and Security Expert with Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Kampala, Uganda, 3 January 2019.
Interview with an Executive Assistant Commissioner Finance, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja–Nigeria, 22 October 2018.
Interview with a Journalist/Reporter with Premium Times News Paper, covering the situation in the northeast and Lake Chad, 18 May 2019.
Interview, 18 May 2019.
Phone Interview with a member of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons–PRESCOM, 12 March 2019.
Interview with the Program Officer at Center for Children and Crisis, A Civil Society Organization in northern Nigeria involved in providing humanitarian help to victims of Conflicts and Violence, 23 August 2019.
This approach centred on the use of native-traditional intelligence, and peer-to-peer collaboration between security actors and members of communities to report any suspicious activity that facilitates terror acts.
Discussions with Professor Warrissu Alli, Former Director of Research, Nigerian Institute for International Affairs, Lagos, Nigeria, 14 November 2018.
Interview with A Researcher a Conflict Resolution Researcher at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, Accra Ghana, 12 March 2019.
Interview, 12 March 2019.
Interview with a Transnational Threat Expert at Institute of Security Studies, South Africa, 9 February 2019.
Interview with a Senior Lecturer and Cross-Cultural Negotiator with the Department of History and International Studies, University of Jos, Nigeria, 8 September 2019.
Interview, 8 September 2019.
Refers to a traditional community policing strategy where communities set up cells or clusters and meet regularly by sharing their security concerns and report suspected activities in their locality.
Phone Interview with a Senior Research Fellow at the Fort Hall School of Government in Nairobi, Kenya, 9 September 2019.
Phone Interview, 9 September 2019.
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Maza, K.D.; Koldas, U.; Aksit, S. Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram. Religions 2020, 11, 96. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020096
Maza KD, Koldas U, Aksit S. Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram. Religions. 2020; 11(2):96. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020096Chicago/Turabian Style
Maza, Kangdim Dingji, Umut Koldas, and Sait Aksit. 2020. "Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram" Religions 11, no. 2: 96. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020096