Nigeria Shuts Down Boko Haram Fake ID Operation

AFP Photo/Sunday Aghaeze
AFP Photo/Sunday Aghaeze

Nigeria continues to boast of nearly daily victories in its campaign against ISIS-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram. Most recently, the Nigerian military shut down an operation manufacturing fake government identification cards for use by jihadists in northeast Borno state.

According to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, the operation was based in the capital of Borno, Maiduguri, and was engaged in printing fake National Identity Cards for use by Boko Haram members seeking to travel more freely in the region. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari relocated the headquarters of the military to Maiduguri at the beginning of his tenure earlier this year, and a heavy police presence has made it more difficult for terrorists to maneuver in the region.

“A business center around Post Office area in Maiduguri was identified as an accomplice of Boko Haram terrorists by producing National Identity cards and other documents for the terrorists,” confirmed military spokesman Col. Tukur Gusau, publicly presenting the suspects to reporters in a press conference. The two men arrested were identified by a Boko Haram member arrested earlier in the day, and their operation–run out of two business centers in the city–have been shut down.

The Nigerian military has been targeting Boko Haram’s resources as much as attempting to arrest as many members as possible. In particular, it has conducted a series of airstrikes in the Sambisa Forest, the group’s last known remaining stronghold, intended to prevent the terrorist group from replenishing its supplies of fuel and food. It appears to have worked, as the military has seen an escalation of village raids conducted on horseback in the past month; it has responded by banning the use of horses for transportation and warning that anyone seen riding a horse will be treated as a terrorist.

President Buhari has given the military three months to destroy Boko Haram completely, a deadline Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai tells reporters he can meet. “We will end Boko Haram very soon. It is possible to meet the three months deadline,” he said this week, adding, “We are very close to the insurgents. We are winning them on daily basis.”

Buratai has a significantly larger army to work with now. Buhari announced thousands of pardons to soldiers accused of desertion or cowardice in the face of Boko Haram attacks, and Nigeria’s Daily Post reports that over 3,000 of those soldiers are already on the front lines in northeast Nigeria. And there does seem to be marked progress in the fight against Boko Haram, according to Nigerian military reports. Earlier this week, spokesman Usman claimed that “scores” of Boko Haram jihadists have surrendered to authorities, and some are cooperating with information. Those soldiers have interviews, he said, “painted images of mass panic and hysteria among their erstwhile colleagues who are feeling the noose tightening on their necks.”

Nigeria is also offering potential negotiations with the terrorists, as reports surfaced this week that Buhari is considering granting amnesty to Boko Haram leaders in exchange for returning the more then 200 girls kidnapped from Chibok, Borno, in April 2014 safely and in good health. The mass kidnapping in Chibok is the event that finally brought Boko Haram to the attention of the Western world, and few girls managed to escape on their own; none were rescued. The latest reports from those surrendering or fleeing Boko Haram camps indicate that many of these girls have been brainwashed and are now dangerous active jihadis.