Special Assignment Boko Haram

Facts:
In the local Hausa dialect, Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden."
The group also refers to itself as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, meaning "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad."
Boko Haram militants mainly inhabit areas in the northern states of Nigeria, specifically Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna.
Originally, Boko Haram was referred to locally as the Nigerian Taliban because of their religious similarities to the Taliban.
Boko Haram does not engage in Nigeria's political system out of an adherence to a fundamentalist form of Islam, which forbids participation unless the system is based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
Timeline:
2002 -
The group, which may have existed since the late 1990s, organizes under the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf. It is centered in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno.
December 2003 - The first known attack by Boko Haram includes roughly 200 militants, who attack multiple police stations in the state of Yobe, near the Niger border.
July 2009 - The Boko Haram uprising begins in Bauchi and spreads to the states of Borno, Kano and Yobe. The militant group kills scores of police officers. A joint military task force responds, leaving more than 700 Boko Haram members dead and its operational mosque destroyed. The uprising ends when police capture Yusuf. His deputy, Abubakar Shekau, reportedly dies in the uprising. Yusuf later dies in police custody. Police say he is shot during an attempted escape, but Boko Haram claims it is an extrajudicial execution.
July 2010 - Boko Haram releases a video statement in which Yusuf's deputy who allegedly died the previous year, Shekau, claims to be the leader of the group.
September 7, 2010 - In the state of Bauchi, 50 Boko Haram militants attack a prison, killing five people and releasing more than 700 inmates.
May 29, 2011 - The day of President Goodluck Jonathan's inauguration, Boko Haram detonates three IEDs near a military barracks in the city of Bauchi in Bauchi State. At least 10 people die in the attack.
August 25, 2011 - Twelve people die after Boko Haram militants attack a police station and two banks in the city of Gombi in Adamawa.
August 26, 2011 - Boko Haram attacks the United Nations compound in Abuja. A car bomb kills 23 people and injures more than 75 others.
November 4, 2011 - More than 100 people die in multiple attacks in Yobo, Damaturu and Borno states. Boko Haram militants utilize IEDs and vehicle-borne IEDs to target security forces and their offices, markets and 11 churches.
January 2012 - A newly formed splinter group, known as Ansaru, announces Abu Usmatul Al-Ansari as its leader.
January 20, 2012 - More than 200 people are killed when Boko Haram launches coordinated attacks targeting police, military, a prison and other targets in the city of Kano in Kano State.
August 23, 2012 - Unverified media reports claim that Boko Haram has begun peace talks with the Nigerian government. Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qa Qa warns the media against making any more claims, "We are telling the government to understand that if it is not ready to embrace Sharia and the Quran as the guiding book from which the laws of the land derive, there shall be no peace... [and media agencies] should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with guns and with the pen."
February 19, 2013 - Militants alleging to be Boko Haram kidnap a French family of seven in a national park in northern Cameroon; however, the affiliation with Boko Haram cannot be verified. The family is later released.
April 2013 - President Jonathan states he has appointed a team to explore the possibility of amnesty for Islamist militants. Shekau responds in an audio statement: "Surprisingly the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon."
April 19, 2013 - Boko Haram battles with multinational security forces from Niger, Nigeria and Chad in the city of Baga in Borno State, leaving nearly 200 people dead, including many civilians. Shekau releases a video in May saying Boko Haram is not responsible for the civilian deaths.
May 15, 2013 - Nigeria's Ministry of Defence announces a military offensive has begun in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe to "rid the nation's border territories of terrorist bases and activities."
June 4, 2013 - President Jonathan approves the proscription of Boko Haram and splinter group Ansaru as terrorist organizations.
June 2013 - Boko Haram targets churches in various states on three Sundays in a row, leaving more than 50 people dead.
August 14, 2013 - The Ministry of Defence announces the death of Boko Haram's second-in-command, Momodu Baba (known as Abu Saad).
August 19, 2013 - Nigeria's chief army spokesperson claims Shekau may have died after an attack on June 30, but the claim is never verified.
September 17, 2013 - Boko Haram gunmen dress in military uniforms and stage a fake checkpoint near Benisheik in Borno, burning vehicles and executing travelers, leaving at least 143 people dead.
September 25, 2013 - A man claiming to be Shekau appears in a video and says that he is alive and well. However, his identity is not verified.
November 13, 2013 - The US State Department adds Boko Haram and Ansaru to its list of terrorist organizations.
January 26, 2014 - At least 45 are killed in a market in Kawuri in Borno after Boko Haram militants open fire.
February 11, 2014 -At least 23 people are killed when suspected Boko Haram militants torch houses in the village of Konduga, according to the governor of Borno state.
April 14, 2014 -Boko Haram militants kidnap approximately 276 teenage girls from a boarding school in Chibok in Borno. Officials there say some of the girls were able to escape. The kidnapping sparks global outrage and a #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media.
May 5, 2014 - In a video statement, a man claiming to be Shekau says, "I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah...there is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."
May 20, 2014 - Twin blasts in the city of Jos kill 118 people at a market. Nigerian authorities describe the blasts as "terrorist activities" but decline to speculate on who might be responsible.
June 3-4, 2014 - Hundreds of people are killed in raids by Boko Haram Islamic militants in the state of Borno, with some sources putting the death toll at 400 to 500.
June 7-8, 2014 - Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnap at least 20 young women over a weekend in the northeastern Nigeria village of Garkin Fulani, eight kilometers from a town where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken nearly two months earlier.
June 18-22, 2014 - Boko Haram militants hold the village of Kummabza in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria, hostage for four days. They abduct more than 60 females, including children, and kill 30 men in the raid.
July 7, 2014 - Sources say at least 57 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month from the Kummabza village in northern Borno state have escaped from their captors and returned to their village. Boko Haram is still believed to be holding about 200 schoolgirls abducted April 14 from a boarding school in the town of Chibok.
July 17-20, 2014 - Boko Haram raids the Nigerian town of Damboa. By the time the raid ends, 66 residents have been killed and more than 15,000 have fled.
October 16, 2014 - The Nigerian government announces it has reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist terror group that includes the promised release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
January 3, 2015 - A multi-day raid begins, where hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen seize the town of Baga and neighboring villages in northern Nigeria, as well as a multinational military base, leaving bodies scattered everywhere and as many as 2,000 people feared dead.
January 10-11, 2015 - At least 20 are killed and 18 injured in Maiduguri after explosives strapped to a girl are detonated at a marketplace screening checkpoint. At least three are dead and 43 injured after two suicide bombs, strapped to girls, detonate in a mobile phone market in Potiskum. Boko Haram is suspected as being behind the attacks.
March 2, 2015 - Boko Haram releases a video showing the apparent beheadings of two men they suspected of being spies.
March 7, 2015 - In an audio message purportedly from Shekau, Boko Haram pledges allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic militant group which controls areas of Iraq and Syria. Boko Haram is named "Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya" or "Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyyah," which means the Islamic State of West Africa.
April 25-26, 2015 - The decomposed corpses of at least 400 men, women and children are found in shallow, mass graves and on the streets of Damasak in northeastern Nigeria. Due to a joint Nigerian-Chadian military operation, the town has recently been freed of Boko Haram, which seized the town in November.
April 28-April 30, 2015 - Nigerian troops rescue about 450 women and girls in the Sambisa Forest during a military operation centered around destroying Boko Haram camps and rescuing civilians. According to the military, none of those rescued have been identified as the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped last April.
July 1, 2015 - Boko Haram militants raid three villages in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, killing at least 145 people, according to witnesses.
September 3, 2015 - An estimated 30 people are dead and 145 injured after Boko Haram militants attack a crowded market in Kerawa, Cameroon and an infirmary near a Cameroonian military camp, according to Cameroonian military spokesman Col. Didier Badjeck.
September 23, 2015 -241 women and children are rescued and 43 Boko Haram militants are arrested after the Nigerian military raids camps run by the terrorist group in two villages.
February 2016 - Militants from Boko Haram attack two villages in northeast Nigeria, killing at least 30 people.In another attack, two female suicide bombers kill 58 people at a Nigerian refugee camp for villagers fleeing terrorism. A suspect in the attack on the camp tells officers that she and the two suicide bombers were dispatched by Boko Haram.
April 14, 2016 - CNN posts a video of some of the teenage girls abducted from Chibok that was sent to negotiators by their captors as a "proof of life."
May 17, 2016 - Amina Ali Nkeki, one of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, is the first to be freed after two years in captivity. Nigeria's army says she was rescued by army troops, but a witness tells CNN the girl wandered out of the Sambisa Forest in the northeast of the country along with her child and a man.
August 3, 2016 - ISIS publication al-Naba says that Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi is the new leader of Boko Haram. A Boko Haram insider confirms to CNN that al-Barnawi, the son of the group's founder -- who was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009 -- is in fact the new leader.
August 14, 2016 - Boko Haram releases a video

SC/13161

SECURITY COUNCIL
8156TH MEETING (AM)

Despite progress in West Africa and the Sahel, particularly regarding democratic and peaceful political transitions, the security situation in the region remained a grave concern, the Security Council heard today in a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General in the region.

Following a notable decline in Boko Haram attacks in the first half of 2017, there had been an uptick in the number of such incidents since September, with a peak of 143 civilian casualties in November, said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who is also the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), as he introduced the Secretary‑General’s report (document S/2017/1104).

Boko Haram’s use of children as suicide bombers had increased fivefold from 2016, reaching 135 such cases in 2017, he said. Although 700 people abducted by Boko Haram had recently escaped captivity, the group continued to kidnap innocent people. “More than 2 million displaced persons are still desperately waiting for an end to the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin,” he stressed.

Further, the exponential spread of intercommunal and farmer‑herder conflicts, which had claimed hundreds of lives, was a “ticking time bomb”, he said, “which unattended, could escalate beyond the community level”.

Despite those worrying trends, the trajectory of successful democratic elections across West Africa continued, he said, pointing to the large number of people who had participated in peaceful 10 October and 26 December elections in Liberia. “I applaud the Liberian people and their leaders for their recourse to exclusively legal means to settle all electoral‑related disputes,” he said, efforts that had strengthened democratic institutions.

Looking ahead, he said attention must be paid to upcoming elections in Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Togo, opposition parties continued with street protests, while a lack of consensus on how to implement constitutional reforms could threaten legislative and local elections to be held later this year, he stressed.

Following his briefing, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire highlighted that the peaceful presidential elections and democratic transfer of power in Liberia had created hope that the country had “turned a corner” and ended decades of military and political crises. The events there provided a good example to Africa and the West African region, in particular.

Nevertheless, while such progress was promising, he expressed concern about the prevalence of threats from terrorism and violent extremism, which were linked to transboundary organized crime, trafficking in migrants, drugs, weapons and human beings. Those challenges were compounded by poverty and unemployment, particularly among the youth in areas where the State had difficulty carrying out its sovereign functions.

Equatorial Guinea’s delegate underscored that climate change was having a severe impact on the region, particularly on animal husbandry and agricultural production. Desertification due to climate change had led farmers and ranchers to migrate, stoking further tensions, he emphasized.

Peru’s representative focused on preventative diplomacy, stressing that UNOWAS stood out for its capacity to prevent conflict, while its monitoring and early warning functions had helped to reduce tensions in a number of countries in the subregion. That capacity should be strengthened and leveraged, he said, describing the Office as an appropriate platform to coordinate regional and subregional efforts.

Sweden’s delegate, meanwhile, stressed that adequate resources must be made available as UNOWAS was asked to do more, including in support of the transitions from peacekeeping to non‑mission settings in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

Also speaking today were representatives of Bolivia, the Netherlands, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 11:11 a.m.

Briefing

MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on that Office (document S/2017/1104), and said that despite progress in West Africa and the Sahel, notably regarding democratic and peaceful political transitions, the security situation was a grave concern. Terrorists had launched a complex attack on United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) positions in Kidal, resulting in the death of one peacekeeper. Three Malian soldiers had also recently lost their lives due to a landmine, while another had been killed by terrorists. Those attacks, as well as others committed in the Mali‑Niger‑Burkina Faso tri‑border area, had been attributed to Al‑Qaida‑affiliated groups, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

In Niger, he said an increasing number of security incidents had compelled the Government to dedicate 17 per cent of public expenditure in 2018 to the security sector, compared to 15 per cent in 2017, a move met by demonstrations in capital, given the expected detrimental effects on the delivery of social services. Following a notable decline in Boko Haram attacks in the first half of 2017, there had been an uptick in the number of incidents since September, with a peak of 143 civilian casualties in November. Boko Haram’s use of children as suicide bombers increased fivefold compared to 2016, reaching 135 such cases in 2017. Although 700 people abducted by Boko Haram had recently escaped captivity, the group continued to kidnap innocent people, he said, adding: “More than 2 million displaced persons are still desperately waiting for an end to the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin.”

In the Sahel, he said the Group of Five (G5) countries [Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger] had made significant progress in operationalizing their Joint Force, having established its military command structure and force headquarters, and conducted its first military operation with French troops in October 2017. Consultations were ongoing to conclude a technical agreement among the United Nations, European Union and G5 Sahel States on the provision of operational and logistical support to the Joint Force through MINUSMA. The past six months had also seen substantive progress in efforts to reinvigorate the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. A support plan for the Strategy would now be shared with national, regional and international partners to harmonize approaches and canvass for support to the Sahel. However, the exponential spread of intercommunal and farmer‑herder conflicts, which had claimed hundreds of lives, was a concern. “It is a ticking time bomb, which unattended, could escalate beyond the community level,” he warned.

At the December meeting of the Policy Committee of the West Africa Coast Initiative, member States had committed to reinforcing the fight against organized crime, he said, citing migration as among the most lucrative activities for criminal networks across West Africa and the Sahel. The United Nations continued to pioneer the sustaining peace approach in the Gambia and Burkina Faso to ensure the consolidation of those young democracies, where more attention must be paid to security sector reform, national reconciliation and the justice sector. Respect for human rights and the rule of law was the basis for advancing peace, security and development, he said, adding that the good relationship between Cameroon and Nigeria had increased prospects for completing demarcation of the border.

More broadly, the trajectory of successful democratic elections in West Africa continued, he said, pointing to the large number of people who had participated in the peaceful 10 October and 26 December elections in Liberia. “I applaud the Liberian people and their leaders for their recourse to exclusively legal means to settle all electoral‑related disputes,” he said, efforts that had strengthened its democratic institutions. Further attention must be paid to upcoming elections in Sierra Leone and Guinea, while in Togo, opposition parties continued with street protests. The lack of consensus on how to implement constitutional reforms could threaten the holding of legislative and local elections this year.

Statements

BERNARD TANOH-BOUTCHOUE (Côte d’Ivoire) said progress in the area of political governance was promising. Despite advances registered in West Africa, he expressed concern over the prevalence of threats from terrorism and violent extremism, citing proven links to transboundary organized crime, trafficking in migrants, drugs, weapons and human beings. Those threats were compounded by poverty and unemployment, particularly among the young in areas where the State had difficulty carrying out its sovereign functions. In the search for sustainable solutions, efforts must be pooled. In Liberia, peaceful presidential elections and the democratic transfer of power had given rise to hope that the country had “turned a corner” and ended decades of military and political crises. It had set a good example to Africa and the West African region in particular. It was now up to the international community, as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) would soon leave, to support efforts of the Government and civil society to consolidate the benefits of the democratic transition.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said UNOWAS continued to carry out various important functions, in particular through the use of its good offices. It also played a critical role by contributing to strategic and integrated analysis of the opportunities, risks and challenges faced by national and local authorities in efforts to sustain peace. On Liberia, he commended the country for its peaceful, transparent, free and fair election process, which had just concluded. Adequate resources must be made available as UNOWAS was asked to do more, including in support of the transitions from peacekeeping to non‑mission settings in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), noting that UNOWAS was a flexible mechanism which could be adapted, called it an appropriate platform for coordinating regional and subregional efforts to combat threats to peace and security in the region. In the area of preventative diplomacy, it stood out for its capacity to prevent conflict, while its monitoring and early warning functions had helped to reduce tensions in a number of States in the subregion. That capacity should be strengthened and leveraged. In the promotion of institutional strengthening, its ability to create a joint vision meant it could play a large role in coordinating efforts with the African Union. In the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, he cited the Office’s efficient efforts in countering the threat of Boko Haram.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) said UNOWAS was essential, while highlighting the need for women to participate in political processes and peace and security. He pointed to the high level of coordination that UNOWAS had sought with regional and subregional bodies, including the African Union, which had helped West Africa make significant progress in several areas. In Liberia, he underscored the vital electoral process that had taken place in a peaceful and stable environment, calling those polls a clear demonstration that the processes of reconciliation were fundamental to strengthening the role of institutions in working to achieve peace. He expressed concern about the complex security situation in a number of countries in the region, noting that the humanitarian situation was cause for alarm, with some 5 million displaced persons — 2 million of whom were in the Lake Chad Basin, and many of whom faced acute food insecurity.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) said the Council had been correct in setting conflict prevention as a priority for UNOWAS. A year after a turbulent change of power, the Gambia was on the right track. In Togo, the Special Representative had collaborated with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to encourage national stakeholders to engage in a much‑needed dialogue reform, while in Liberia, UNOWAS had played a key role towards peaceful elections. Cross‑border cooperation was also important. In the Lake Chad area, countries had established the Multinational Joint Task Force to tackle the challenge of Boko Haram. However, that threat continued to loom large and the resource challenge was difficult to overcome.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the report drew attention to the humanitarian crisis in the region, which stemmed from the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks, resulting in more than 2.5 million displaced persons in the Lake Chad Basin and a severe food crisis impacting some 500,000. It was essential that the international community decisively support the G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force by providing them with the necessary means to combat the terrorism. Climate change was also having a severe impact on the region, particularly on animal husbandry and agricultural production, causing serious tensions in some countries. Desertification due to climate change had forced farmers and ranchers to migrate, stoking further tensions. He welcomed the peaceful spirit of recent elections in West Africa, calling them a cornerstone of UNOWAS endeavours and urging the international community to support the current political situation in Guinea Bissau.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) expressed support for the continued role of the Special Representative and his good offices, underscoring the critical importance of collaboration among the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS. Regarding political governance, he welcomed the conduct of peaceful elections in Liberia, which marked an important milestone in national efforts to build a sustainable democracy. However, the country also had great need for international support. Such democratic institutions were not built in a day; they must be underpinned by economic and social sectors. Turning to security dynamics, he said it was clear the region faced challenges from violent extremism, drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), Security Council president for January, said in his national capacity that the Office’s work had become even more challenging with the closure of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and UNMIL. That was also true given the increasing threat of terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, with their links to transnational organized crime. He expressed deep concern over the food insecurity and forced displacement among civilians caused by terrorist activities. Kazakhstan fully supported regional initiatives to address those threats through the G5‑Sahel Joint Force and the Multinational Joint Task Force, he said, commending international partners for mobilizing the financial support needed for those activities.

For information media. Not an official record.

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