World View: Terrorist Attacks in Egypt's Sinai Raise Fears of ISIS Links

World View: Terrorist Attacks in Egypt's Sinai Raise Fears of ISIS Links

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Nigeria’s Boko Haram takes credit for Lagos explosion
  • Why the U.S. can’t offer effective help to Nigeria
  • Terrorist attacks in Egypt’s Sinai raise fears of ISIS links

Nigeria’s Boko Haram takes credit for Lagos explosion

In a 16-minute video, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for a bombing in Nigeria’s main southern port city ofLagos on June 25, a bombing that the government apparently tried tocover up by saying that it was an accident. There was a hugeexplosion on June 25 in a shopping mall in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, killing 24 people, as we reported at the time, and Boko Haram was assumed responsible forit. However, the second explosion on the same day, in Lagos, wascalled an accident by the government, apparently to avoid panickingthe population. Investigations by the press had already determinedthat it was a terrorist attack, not an accident, and now Boko Haram isclaiming responsibility. 

A terrorist attack on Lagos could be a significant blow to Nigeria’seconomy because Lagos is an international business hub. The target ofthe Lagos attack was a fuel depot. Fortunately, the female suicidebomber never reached the depot because, if she had, it would havecaused a massive chain explosion. Since the suicide bomber wasapparently poorly trained, it’s thought that the bombing wasperpetrated by Boko Haram itself.

Boko Haram has been operating innortheast Nigeria, where it has abducted hundreds of schoolgirls, whohave still not been freed after several months. If group can nowconduct terror attacks all the way to Lagos in the south, it wouldmean a significant increase in Boko Haram’s reach.

There’s also evidence that Boko Haram is responsible for numerousattacks on farmers. Almost every developing country has major battlesat some point between farmers and cattle or camel herders. Theherders’ animals trample the farmers’ crops, infuriating the farmers.The farmers then put up fences which block the herders, infuriatingthe herders. This is a theme in several African countries, includingKenya and Sudan. In Nigeria, there have been a marked increase indeadly attacks on farmers, and they’ve been blamed on cattle herdersfrom the Fulani tribe. But some officials suspect that the attacksmight be linked to Boko Haram, who are from the Kanuri ethnic group but may have been infiltrated by Fulani. Nigeria Guardian News and Reuters

Why the U.S. can’t offer effective help to Nigeria

In the 16-minute video, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau mocks thecarrying a sign with the hash tag. The campaign has been completelyineffective. 

There have been numerous questions about why the U.S. isn’t doing moreto help Nigeria recover the girls. The question was answered onThursday by Lauren Blanchard, a specialist on African affairs,speaking to a Congressional committee. According to Blanchard: 

[The main impediment is] gross violations committedby the Nigerian forces, the Nigerian government’s resistance toadopting a more comprehensive approach to Boko Haram, and thecontinued lack of political will.

In particular, the Nigerian government has simply stalled in approvingNigerian units for training and assistance: 

Multiple systemic factors further constrain theeffectiveness of the Nigerian security force’s response to BokoHaram, notably security sector corruption and mismanagement, andsome of these factors impede US support even for units that havebeen cleared for assistance.

It’s suspected that because of tribal loyalties, some factions inNigeria’s army and police are sympathizing with Boko Haram, andperhaps working for the terrorist group. Osun Defender (Nigeria)

Terrorist attacks in Egypt’s Sinai raise fears of ISIS links

Militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai, near the border with Israel,fired mortar rounds late Sunday at a military post, killing a soldierand seven civilians. Militants in Sinai have also fired rockets atIsrael in support of Palestinians during the war in Gaza. 

Militants have found a haven in northern Sinai, particularly after theturmoil in Egypt since 2011. Egyptian officials are concerned thatthe rise of Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) willincrease terrorist activities in Sinai. The fear is that al-Qaeda-linked organizations and Salafist jihadists will merge with ISIS orSinai convert to ISIS, and it’s believed that there are noEgyptians in the ISIS command hierarchy. In fact, some MuslimBrotherhood leaders have refused to recognize ISIS. But ISIS mightattract supporters among extremist militias in Libya, or from Al-Qaedain the Maghreb (AQIM), and those supporters might come to Sinai.Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Al-Ahram

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Nigeria, Lagos, Boko Haram, Abuja,Abubakar Shekau, Fulani, Kanuri, Lauren Blanchard,Egypt, Sinai, Israel, Gaza, Libya, AQIM,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL 

Permanent web link to this article

Receive daily World View columns by e-mail