Andre Colling at red24
red24 is a risk management company delivering a range of products and services to businesses, organisations and individuals around the world. Part of these services includes a full suite of travel safety and crisis management services.
This analysis originally ran as a Situation Report on the red24 website and is reproduced with their kind permission.
SITUATION REPORT: NIGERIAN MILITARY PLACED ON ALERT COUNTRYWIDE DUE TO BOKO HARAM THREAT
The Nigerian military has reportedly placed its forces on alert, across the country, in response to a threat from Boko Haram, also known as Wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyyah (Islamic State West Africa Province). The military purportedly has intelligence that Boko Haram plan to attack the Federal Capital Territory, specifically areas where large numbers of people are gathered, as well as security force facilities. The alert follows reports that Abu Musab al-Barnawi has replaced Abubakar Shekau as the militant group’s new leader. The announcement was made by the Islamic State (IS) in early August, although Shekau has since disputed the announcement and stated on 7 August, that he was still the leader of the group. Shekau has also threatened to renew attacks against the Nigerian state, senior politicians and neighbouring countries.
Boko Haram has been severely degraded by counterterrorism operations led by the Nigeria security forces in recent months. Its activity in north eastern Nigeria has decreased markedly and its supporters have been dispersed. Some reports indicate that many of its militants have relocated from the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, to states in the interior, including into the Lame Burra Game Reserve in Bauchi state. Internal fractures within the organisation have also appeared and been underlined by the dispute over the leadership position. That said, Boko Haram still possesses the ability to conduct attacks in the country.
The threat is underlined by the recent military alert and recent foiled attacks. In mid-July, the authorities claimed to have arrested a Boko Haram militant in Abuja and foiled a planned attack. Foreign governments also maintain elevated threat advisories for Nigeria due to the Boko Haram risk. On 3 August, the US government updated its travel warning for the country and specifically underlined the risk in north eastern Nigeria stemming from Boko Haram.
Further attacks by the militant group are expected, particularly across northern and central Nigeria. State facilities, non-Sunni religious sites and communities, Christian sites and communities and foreign nationals and interests, as well as sites associated with the West are likely targets. Attacks could take the form of conventional or suicide bombings, complex gun and bomb assaults, hostage takings, kidnap for ransom, shootings and assassinations.