MNJTF: A Divided Boko Haram, Boost to Our Counter-Insurgency Operations


Okechukwu Uwaezuoke

The emergence of Musab Al-Barnawi’s faction from the Islamic State-affiliated terror group Boko Haram factional leader has been described as a boost to the Lake Chad Basin Multi-National Joint Task Force’s (MNJTF) counter-insurgency operations.

This was disclosed by the MNJTF commander, Major-General Lamidi Adeosun, in telephonic press briefing held yesterday.

The briefing, which was co-hosted by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) commander, General Thomas Waldhauser and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Lieutenant-General Osman Noor Soubagleh, was held yesterday at the end of the African Chiefs of Defence Conference at the AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart (Germany) and was monitored at the US Consulate General Office in Lagos by local journalists.

The conference, which started last Tuesday, was the first of its kind held between the US AFRICOM and 49 African military leaders.

Major-General Adeosun attributed the boost to the tenuous link subsisting between the sect’s two rival factions.

“The split is assisting the operations in a way,” he said.

Al-Barnawi, it would be recalled, had been critical of the Boko Haram leader Shekau’s indiscriminate targeting of fellow Muslims and had vowed to concentrate his faction’s efforts on fighting the Christians as well as the government and the military. Al-Barnawi, meanwhile, is believed to be the son of the slain Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, whose deputy the group’s current leader Shekau used to be.

Shekau had pledged allegiance to the  so-called Islamic State (IS) group in March 2015. But months later, in August last year, the IS based in Iraq and Syria, announced Al-Barnawi as the leader of its ‘West Africa province.’

“He has been challenging the military,” Adeosun confirmed about the Boko Haram sect, which he said also bears the name Islamic State in West Africa – “a name it doesn’t deserve.”

On the fears on the sustainability of the operations in the event of dwindling international support, Adeosun explained that the MNJTF, like other similar outfits on the continent, is basically self-reliant but benefits from additional support from the US and the others. “The fears are not necessary. “What comes (from outside) is an additional support,” he said.

This corroborated General Waldhauser’s statement to the effect that the AFRICOM was working towards “African solutions to African problems,” which implies reducing the continent’s dependence on external support by developing the local military’s capacity.

On the Al-Shabab insurgency in Somalia, Lieutenant-General Soubagleh disclosed that the terror group has no more stronghold in the East African country and assured that the group would be defeated in the near future.

Re-iterating the need for lasting peace to the nation, he also stressed the need for the government to reach out to population with a view to dissuading new would-be Al-Shabab recruits.

He specifically called for the involvement of the academic community, civil society organisations, the media and religious institution, among other stakeholders in Somalia in this endeavour.