One of the Islamic State's so-called "provinces" in Libya claims to have captured the town of Nawfaliyah it was reported on the 15 Feb 15. The group has released a photo set showing a large convoy entering the town. The military-style parade likely took place earlier this month. In addition to the jihadists' purported gains in Nawfaliyah, the organization's fighters seized several key buildings, including radio and television stations, in the city of Sirte. Separate photos posted on social media show the Islamic State's province broadcasting propaganda from one of the captured media facilities. The WAL News Agency in Libya reports that the radio station has been broadcasting a speech by Abu Muhammad al Adnani, the Islamic State's spokesman. The Islamic State's province also seized control of a passport office in Sirte, demanding that its employees "repent" for their failure to swear fealty to the "caliphate." Assessing the extent of the Islamic State's presence in Libya and elsewhere is difficult, as the group's propaganda machine has exaggerated its fighters' gains. (The same is true for the Islamic State's jihadist rivals.) For instance, press reports said late last year that the Islamic State's supporters had taken over the city of Derna, with a population of about 100,000 residents. But this wasn't true. While the Islamic State has a significant presence in Derna, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's followers are not in control of the entire city. Other jihadist groups that are not allied with the Islamic State, including the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade (ASMB), remain deeply entrenched in Derna. In Dec 14 the ASMB announced the creation of the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) of Derna, a jihadist alliance that has not sworn allegiance to Baghdadi. The United Nations has even erroneously reported that Ansar al Sharia in Derna, which is part of al Qaeda's network and allied with the MSC, has defected to the Islamic State. This isn't true either, as Ansar al Sharia's leadership has not come out in favour of Baghdadi. Still, the Islamic State's network in Libya has been growing. And independent reports confirm that the group has been operating in and around Sirte.
Boko Haram – Leaders from Central Africa have met in Cameroon to finalise plans for a military offensive against Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Representatives of 10 nations met in the capital Yaounde on the 16 Feb 15 under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and committed to spend $86m to fight Boko Haram. They also urged the international community to provide more support to counter the armed group. Nigeria-based Boko Haram has widened its attacks into neighbouring nations, notably Cameroon and Chad. "This terrorist group has the military and human resources of a conventional army, but uses asymmetric methods, making the fight more complex and costly for Cameroon and Chad." The aim of the 16 Feb discussion was to come up with "an agreed solution" on the fight against the group, a source close to the Cameroonian government said. Nigeria was absent from the talks as it is not an ECCAS member. Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria have formed a military alliance to combat the group. Operational plans for the regional force have yet to be submitted to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union for approval before being sent to the United Nations Security Council, according to a statement released after the regional talks. 361 COMMENT: This has to be very good news for the fight against Bko Haram as it is currently in the driving seat and is attempting to get bolder with its incursions over national borders. But, it needs to include Nigeria irrespective of the build up to elections or being a member of the ECCAS. The BH Caliphate is in Nigeria and while they still have a foothold in any one country it will remain a threat. If they take this fight to the terrorist group then there will be numerous successes. However, BH will fight back and they may attempt terrorist acts in the rear echelon of the country in towns and cities in order to detract troops away from fighting on the front line. COMMENT ENDS
Dozens of people have been killed in suicide attacks in Nigeria reports claimed on the 18 Feb 15. Twenty people died following explosions at a military checkpoint outside the north-eastern town of Biu. On the 17 Feb 15 Boko Haram released a video in which Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau vowed to disrupt Nigeria's elections at any cost. The 15-minute film was released via the group's newly created Twitter account, prompting some analysts to question whether they had been influenced by Islamic State. Previous Boko Haram videos were of a lower quality and distributed to journalists on DVD. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. Boko Haram is not known to operate in the region.
Other Boko Haram Incidents:
On the 17 Feb 15 Tuesday, a suicide bomber killed four and injured five at a restaurant near a military checkpoint in Potiskum, north-eastern Nigeria.
On the 17 Feb 15 an attack at an opposition rally in the south of the country killed one police officer and injured four others, while a reporter covering the event was stabbed.
On the 22 Feb 15 A girl thought to be as young as seven had blown herself up in a busy Nigerian market, killing five people along with herself and wounding dozens more. The girl was reported to have been turned away from a security checkpoint at the entrance to a mobile phone market in Potiskum, the commercial capital of north-eastern Yobe State, on the 22 Feb, but she returned and ducked under a rope before the explosives strapped to her body detonated.
An American missionary was kidnapped on the 23 Feb 15 from a school in central Nigeria in an area prone to kidnappings for ransom. The missionary was identified as the Rev. Phyllis Sortor on the website of the Free Methodist Church. In a statement on its website, the church said she had been kidnapped from the compound of Hope Academy outside Emiworo in Kogi State. Nigerian officials said the kidnapping was probably not the work of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The police commissioner of Kogi State, Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, said a ransom of around $300,000 had been demanded by Tuesday afternoon, barely 24 hours after the kidnapping, which is not typical for Boko Haram. In addition, the area where the kidnapping occurred — south of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital — is not generally considered to be within Boko Haram’s sphere of influence. Commissioner Ogunjemilusi said the Islamists were not active in Kogi. Still, kidnappings do occur there with some regularity. This month, a top local official in Kogi State was abducted from his home by gunmen who used the same method, scaling a wall that was used in the kidnapping of Ms. Sortor. On Monday, Commissioner Ogunjemilusi said, five “hoodlums” jumped the school’s wall around 1030 hrs, shooting in the air to frighten away would-be rescuers. Two of them wore masks, he said. Ms. Sortor had just returned from a trip to town and was standing outside with two girls, both students, he said. The kidnappers grabbed her, scaled the wall and fled into the surrounding bush. The area is mountainous and full of potential hide-outs. “The entire forest is being combed as I talk to you,” Commissioner Ogunjemilusi said, adding that police officers and soldiers had been deployed. “We are all working together to secure her release.” All of southern Nigeria is prone to kidnappings, with public officials, their relatives and foreign workers, often in the oil industry, regularly abducted for ransom. Farther north, Islamist violence continued to surge ahead of national elections next month, with bomb blasts at bus stations in Kano and Potiskum killing at least several dozen people, officials said. The blasts bore the hallmarks of previous attacks by Boko Haram.
Soldiers from Chad killed 207 Boko Haram fighters in clashes near a Nigerian town close to the border with Cameroon, Chad's army announced in a statement reported on the 25 Feb 15. One Chadian soldier was killed and another nine were wounded in Gambaru, the scene of regular attacks by the group in recent months. There was no immediate independent verification of the Chadian army's announcement. Chad's military also claimed to have seized large quantities of small arms and ammunition and two pick-up trucks on the 24 Feb 15. 361 COMMENT: During the reporting period there have been a number of unconfirmed attacks against Boko Haram which if they are correct would indicate that the forces of the military campaign against the group has turned the tide. If these successes are correct then the terrorist group will eventually break up and possibly fracture into smaller groups which will make them more difficult to find and destroy. Although this maybe a good thing as it would mean the threat from BH will no longer be so great the problem will be to that similar to al-Shabaab which operates inside and around Somalia. There will be terrorist incidents occurring in the various countries that managed to defeat them. The only hope this new coalition has is to route out all the terrorists and destroy them, their financial aid, logistics and leadership. Only then will the countries surrounding Nigeria have any peace from the group. COMMENT ENDS
South Africa – The UN Security Council has warned South Africa to be on the lookout for 11 international terrorists who may decide to use the country as an operational base it claimed on the 20 Feb 15. The 11 have links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State. A proclamation in the Government Gazette this week noted that the group consisted of financiers, recruiters and logistical supporters of the terror groups. The 11 men and women are reportedly from Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. Senior politics professor at the University of the Free State Hussein Solomon said that South Africa had been used by global terror networks since the 1990s. "Al-Qaeda has had a presence here since 1997," Solomon was quoted as saying. "By 1995 there were five Hezbollah camps in South Africa. The list of the who's who of the terrorism zoo in South Africa goes on and on."
Tunisia – Four Tunisian police were killed on the 17 Feb 15 in what the government labelled a "terrorist attack" in a region known as the base for the country's most dangerous Islamist group. "On February 18, following a terrorist attack in Boulaaba in the governorate of Kasserine, four heroes of the National Guard were martyred," the interior ministry said in statement, without giving further details. Boulaaba is part of a mountain range on the Algerian border which is home to Tunisia's main jihadist group, the Al-Qaeda linked Phalange Okba Ibn Nafaa. The group is blamed for an attack which killed 15 Tunisian soldiers in Jul 14 while dozens of soldiers and police have been killed or wounded in ambushes by the Islamist fighters and landmines.