Factional Dynamics within Boko Haram

Nigerien soldiers

Photo: USAFRICOM.

In August 2016, Boko Haram split into the groups Islamic State-West Africa (ISIS-WA) and Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati (JAS) as a result of the internal divisions surrounding the succession of militant Abubakar Shekau as leader of the jihadist group, and a debate over whether Muslim civilians can be targeted. ISIS-WA decided to focus on large scale attacks on military targets, which reflects a more long-term vision for bringing civilians frustrated with the government into its fold. In contrast to the JAS focus on soft civilian targets, ISIS-WA‘s new approach poses a serious threat since it provides an alternative means of governance.

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Security Topics:  Countering Violent Extremism   Irregular and Asymmetric Warfare