Thursday, 29 May 2014

African security | Homeland Security News Wire

Military and intelligence personnel from France, the United States, Israel, and Britain have been in Abuja and in the field for three weeks now, in an effort to help the Nigerian military develop a plan to deal with the plight of the more than 200 abducted girls. After three weeks in Nigeria, these Western diplomats, and military and intelligence officials, concede that the Nigerian military and government are just not up to the task. “There is a view among diplomats here and with their governments at home that the [Nigerian] military is so poorly trained and armed, and so riddled with corruption, that not only is it incapable of finding the girls, it is also losing the broader fight against Boko Haram,” the New York Times reported. The paper continued: “That the hope of many across the globe [for the safe return of the girls] rests on such a weak reed as the Nigerian military has left diplomats here [in Abuja] in something of a quandary about the way forward. The Nigerian armed forces must be helped, they say, but are those forces so enfeebled that any assistance can only be of limited value?”

A spokesman for the Nigerian military said yesterday that the military knows where the more than 200 girls, abducted by Boko Haram on 15 April, are, but has ruled out using force to rescue them.
The chief of the defense staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh was quoted by the state news as saying that, “The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you. But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”

The news agency reported that other government officials believe any raid to rescue the girls would be too dangerous and probably not worth the risk that the girls would be killed by their Islamist captors.

The Guardian reports that in the six weeks since the girls were captured, more than 470 civilians have been killed by the Islamist groups Boko Haram.

The BBC reported on Monday that a deal between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram was close to being agreed. The deal, which was made public by Boko Haran, involved exchanging the abducted girls for Boko Haram prisoners, but it was called off at the last minute.

Western military and intelligence experts raised doubts about the Nigerian government’s assertions, for three reasons. The first is that the Nigerian military, among its many flaws, does not have a sufficiently capable and trustworthy intelligence branch that can be relied upon effectively to gather and analyze information from the field. As is the case with all other branches of the Nigerian military, what passes for military intelligence arm is a thoroughly corrupt outfit used by military commanders to gather information on businesses and individuals to extort or offer “protection” to, political rivals, and ethnic and tribal rivals.

Western analysts note that since 2009, when Boko Haram launched it assault on the Nigerian state and citizenry, the military has done precious little – some say that “nothing” should be the operative adjective here – to build a network of informants and use other intelligence means to make any campaign against the Islamist group more effective (see “U.S. officials: Nigerian military too corrupt, inept to defeat Islamists, rescue girls,” HSNW, 21 May 2014).

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