The Associated Press reports Cameroon’s government claims it killed 143 Boko Haram militants in a single five-hour firefight, when a Cameroonian military camp in Kolofata came under attack.
“It is by far the heaviest toll sustained by the criminal sect Boko Haram since it began launching its barbaric attacks against our land, people, and goods,” said Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary of Cameroon. He also reported that a Cameroonian corporal was killed in the fighting, and four other troops were injured. There has not yet been independent confirmation from international observers of the battle or its casualty count.
The Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram, infamous for kidnapping hundreds of young girls and selling them into slavery, has unquestionably evolved into a strategic threat on par with any recognized nation-state. Their most recent rampage through Nigerian villages left thousands dead, and hundreds more taken as slaves. They’ve also taken to using small children as suicide bombers to attack both military and civilian targets. Boko Haram’s leadership, claiming inspiration from ISIS, have declared an Islamic caliphate of their own. They control enough territory, with sufficient military force, to make that more than an idle boast.
Nigerians unlucky enough to cross Boko Haram’s path have accused their own government of doing little to halt the savage rampage, complaining that on the distressingly infrequent occasions when the Nigerian military shows up to fight, they have a tendency to break and run. The Daily Beast notes that the Nigerian government “still has not made a formal comment on the latest atrocities.” One expert speaking to the online publication argues that “the reluctance to pursue Boko Haram, which flies the jihadi black flag and publicly supports ISIS, stems from the fact that sitting President Jonathan, who is from southern Nigeria, risks an electoral backlash if he comes down hard on his military’s ineffectiveness.” He notes that President Jonathan had even “previously floated the idea of an amnesty for Boko Haram.”
Writing at Haaretz, Asaf Ronel wonders if the dignitaries assembled in Paris to march in unity against terrorism will devote some attention to the ongoing Islamist horror in Nigeria. The attention of the West is especially significant with regard to Boko Haram because of ties the Paris terrorists have with Nigerian jihadists, as Ronel writes: “on Sunday it was reported that one of the Paris terrorists had met in Yemen the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, better known as the ‘Underwear Bomber.’”
There is certainly ample reason to worry about connections developing between Boko Haram, which openly idolizes ISIS and has a penchant for waving its black flag, and other wings of the global Islamist movement. Alas, Ronel’s hope that “Je suis Charlie” will develop into a more effective counter-movement than the insipid “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign is darkly mirrored by those who worry that “Je suis Charlie” is just the latest incarnation of meaningless, transitory hashtag activism – a gesture that makes the participants feel good about themselves, but poses no threat to well-armed, bloody-minded conquerors.