THE OMINOUS THREAT FROM ISIS

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The security agencies should ensure that the Islamic terrorists have no base in the country
In apparent response to reports that the battle-hardened members of the Islamic State terrorist group from Syria were sneaking into our country, the Minister of Defence, Mr Mansur Dan- Ali said last week that the issue topped the agenda of the recent meeting of the Ministers of Defence of the Community of Sahel Saharan States in Abuja. The risk posed by the tactically astute extremist jihadists deserves no less attention as we urge the authorities to up their game, if they are to contain the national security threats posed by these dangerous elements.

The Sun newspapers, published in the United Kingdom, had reported that leaders of ISIS were furtively bringing in the brutal jihadists into Nigeria to recruit and train terrorists for possible attacks in Britain while some Boko Haram insurgents would be trained and sent to the Middle East in a macabre exchange programme. The report further said ISIS would exploit the strong links between Abuja and London using the regular flights between both countries to export terrorism and wreak havoc across the world.

Against the background that in 2016, the Ali Barnawi faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS, it will be foolish for the Nigerian authorities to treat this information with levity. The military and the security agencies must see it as a lead to work upon rather than another information to dismiss as some have already done, albeit in a cynical manner. Only last week, the Department of State Services (DSS) said that it had arrested two commanders of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) in the suburb of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and another one in Bauchi, a month earlier. “The suspects were discovered to have concluded plans to not only perpetuate the ideals of the movement in the areas, but to, in collaboration with Boko Haram, carry out heinous violent attacks on innocent persons,” it said.

The ISIS is an extremist group reputed to be one of the most deadly Islamic jihadists in history, dwarfing Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda in organisation and exportation of terrorism across the world. It is a movement noted for sectarian hatred, unbridled savagery, beheadings and mass executions and uses relatively weak and lawless territories as base to launch its global jihad. The well-provided-for organisation gained international notoriety in 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of some key cities, including Mosul, the country’s second largest city. A United Nations Commission of inquiry on Syria discovered in 2016 that the Islamic group had no scruples in using any deadly weapons available including cluster bombs, chemical and biological weapons on innocent civilians to achieve its aim of an Islamic caliphate.

In the face of pushback from its present areas of operations, the extremist group is looking for territories where it could establish a base to further carry out its dastardly international terror. This underlines the importance of military reinforcements and intelligence sharing from across the region and indeed the continent to try and contain the jihadists advance. The militant group with perhaps the most brutal version of Islamic rule must not be allowed to gain a foothold in Nigeria or anywhere on the continent littered with angry millions of youths bereft of opportunities.

Already, many countries in the sub-region, particularly those sharing borders with Nigeria, are weighed down by the activities of Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group with roots in Nigeria. This is why we enjoin the forthcoming conference of the heads of state and government to strategise a regional and proactive response to the spread of terror, an issue that could further destabilise the region.

The ISIS must not be allowed to get a base in Nigeria for terrorist activities.