Some days ago, when I saw the news headline ‘Boko Haram declares an Islamic Caliphate in Gwoza, Borno State of Nigeria‘, my mind immediately analyzed the similarities between Boko Haram of Nigeria and the Islamic State (ISIS) of Iraq and I decided to write about it. The first thing I must highlight is that the both groups are radical Islamic extremists (Jihadists) and have both been responsible for deaths of hundreds of thousand of people in Iraq and Nigeria.
Some weeks after the ISIS militants shocked the world by defeating Iraq’s military in less than a week, they declared an Islamic caliphate comprising of large portions of land in Iraq and Syria. Now, Boko Haram whose leader, Abubakar Sheka has openly expressed support for ISIS leadership, has declared a so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Gwoza, Borno State, Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram’s main objective is to establish an Islamic controlled region in the whole Northern Nigeria. They are currently fighting to take more towns just as Iraq’s ISIS who are fighting for control in Eastern Syria.
Boko Haram, just like ISIS is well funded. Boko Haram is said to be the 7th richest terrorist organization in the world. ISIS, of course is the first. The Islamic State reportedly gains a whooping $3million dollars daily from oil fields it controls in Iraq. It also gets money from looting banks and museums, kidnapping for ransom and from wealthy sponsors. Boko Haram on the other hand also has wealthy sponsors, some of whom are allegedly wealthy Nigerian politicians. Boko Haram is also very popular for kidnappings in Northern Nigeria, including the abduction of over two hundred school girls. Reports claim that some of the victims are traded for money, meaning that Boko Haram is involved in human trafficking as one of the means of creating wealth.
Another striking similarity between Boko Haram and ISIS is that they adopt similar propaganda. Boko Haram and the Islamic State group release videos and pictures of their cruel and terrible activities as tools of terrorism in order to create fear. ISIS mainly uses social media like Twitter to circulate terrible images like this:
While Boko Haram occasionally release videos which show the leader ranting about so many things. Boko Haram released two videos after kidnapping the secondary school girls, they also recently released a video after claiming a town in Nigeria as their Islamic state. The recent video shows fleeing soldiers, captured arms and civilian massacres.
Both groups are widely known for their brutality and senseless killings. The take over villages and violently kill hundreds of innocent civilians. Boko Haram is popular for the use of bombs while ISIS launches direct attacks against Iraqi and Syrian military. Both Boko Haram and ISIS pose deadly threats to Nigeria and Iraq respectively and have been terrible menaces to the countries’ militaries. Iraq’s military practically crumbled under ISIS within days and more recently, ISIS fighters were able to withstand the Syrian military to capture some areas in the countries east. Boko Haram, on the other hand is said to have better weapons than the Nigerian military including rockets and anti aircraft missiles and the Nigerian military has often retreated during direct armed confrontation with the group. Boko Haram just like ISIS also operates in Syria, has their operations not limited to only Nigeria alone. They also carry out attacks in Cameroon. ISIS is a threat to the whole Middle East just as Boko Haram is a threat to regional peace in West Africa.
Though these groups are similar in ideologies and practices, it is important to that ISIS is far deadlier and brutal than Boko Haram. (They are even more brutal than Al Qaeda). ISIS controls so much land and generates so much money. They can even be seen as a threat to the world. Nigeria has not degenerated to the state Iraq presently is. So, even as the world seeks solution to ISIS (one of my blog readers jokingly suggested using Nuclear weapons), Nigeria must make sure it prevents Boko Haram from spiraling out of control.