Ansaru’s return to Nigeria deepens terror threat

For much of the past decade, Ansaru has been largely an outlier in the terrorist threat landscape. But the group is returning to Nigeria, and it’s more dangerous than ever. Ansaru claim (it is defend the interests of Islam in communities where its presence has been largely contained. It was formed in 2012 as a breakaway faction from Boko Haram following a disagreement between “moderates” and “hardliners”. There are three worrying signs of Ansaru’s resurgence: his growing links to kidnapping and banditry, his connections to other violent extremist groups, and his ability to win over local communities with his ‘hearts and minds’ campaign. These activities are generating instability in the region. To counter the group, governments must provide better security and services to local populations. Ansaru is particularly active in northwestern and north-central Nigeria, where banditry and kidnapping have it shot itself in recent years. The group is believed to have provided weapons and other support for the bandits behind the attacks in the northwest. This claim is supported by accounts of police raids on a bandit camp in the Kuduru forest in Kaduna state, with which Ansaru is linked. Kidnappings are another vital tool used by the group to sustain and expand their activities. Beyond Nigeria, the broader Sahel region is at risk from Ansaru’s token allegiance to more violent extremist groups. In early 2022, Ansaru reconfirmed his loyalty al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ansaru reflects AQIM’s expansion into Nigeria through members who trained with AQIM and formed Ansaru’s militant wing. In January 2013, for example, Ansaru claimed responsibility for an attack on a Nigerian army. convoy travel to a peacekeeping mission in Mali. Arms trafficking in the region gives Ansaru easy access to weapons. The sources told the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) that the group mainly buys weapons from criminals in Nigeria, such as bandits and members of violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram. The proliferation of weapons is already a challenge in the country. There were more than six million weapons in circulation last year, former President Abdulsalami Abubakar told a National Peace Committee meeting in Abuja in 2021. Ansaru’s ‘hearts and minds’ approach to gaining community support is perhaps the most threatening trend. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) used the same strategy of distributed food, clothing and cash to residents. The idea of ​​’humanitarian assistance’ from any of these groups allows for continued recruitment and loyalty. The focus is also long-term, which means Ansaru spends time connecting with communities and building a sustained presence in the region. The key to Ansaru’s success is its provision of essential public services in the context of state failure in rural communities. For example, the group protects rural residents against bandits. An Ansaru supporter in the village of Gwandu in Kaduna state told the ISS that the group simply protects the locals without expecting gifts or rewards for services rendered. Some members of the community referred to Ansaru as peaceful and understanding, interested in defending residents from bandits. The group supplies fertilizers, pesticides and agricultural products to farmers, especially in the states of Kaduna, Katsina and parts of Zamfara. ISS interviews revealed that during Ramadan, Ansaru gave food to Muslims in Kaduna state, where he has some followers. In this year’s Eid-el-Fitr celebration, food and gifts were distributed to the people in Birnin Gwari. Amidst Ansaru’s display of motorcycle stunts, and to the delight of community members, several youths praised and declared their support for the group. But these brochures come with no repercussions. In December 2021, a resident of Kuyallo in Birnin Gwari invited an emir from Ansaru to be the guest speaker at a Moulud celebration. The emir warned listeners to stay away from secular political gatherings or discussions that promote democracy. ISWAP does the same in northeast Nigeria, and those who do not comply are punished and sometimes executed. With the campaign for the 2023 elections underway in Nigeria, politicians are visiting communities to solicit votes. This might encourage locals to resist Ansaru, but it won’t be easy to gain popular trust after years of government neglect. Preventive measures are needed to prevent Ansaru’s resurgence from causing further problems. The pockets of banditry and kidnappings in the northwest and north-central areas create a favorable environment for the group and must be addressed. These crimes were a problem before Ansaru was formed, but have intensified in recent years. Intelligence cooperation between affected states must be boosted and followed by swift action. Inter-agency collaboration and cross-border monitoring of the sources and flows of weapons used to perpetrate crimes are also needed. As Nigeria’s 2023 general election approaches, human security must be a priority for those seeking office. Ansaru’s affiliation with AQIM means that the problem is transnational and requires coordination between countries and regional blocs. Current efforts by the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS provide a possible framework for action. His first ministerial meeting on African soil was welcomed by Morocco in May. To counter Ansaru’s hearts and minds strategy, countries in the region must improve their governance and delivery of services to communities. A campaign is also needed to engage Islamic clerics familiar with the doctrinal elements necessary to deconstruct ideological narratives. Clerics are crucial to community mobilization because they serve as patrons of numerous Islamic organizations through which theological guidance flows. Ansaru may not represent the most significant terrorist threat in Nigeria. But its ability to resurface hints at a dangerous tendency to use the element of surprise as it quietly grows stronger within communities. Akinola Olojo, Project Manager and Malik Samuel, Research Fellow, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Regional Office for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin and Idris Mohammed, Professor, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Nigeria This article is published with the support of the governments of the Netherlands and Norway. (This item was first published by ISS Today, a syndication partner of Premium Times. We have your permission to republish.) SEE: Governor Yahaya Bello’s roadmap to Hope 2023 Read More Related News Here Let here it in the comment below if you do have an opinion on this; Ansaru’s return to Nigeria deepens terror threat