The day after IS, By M. B. Sabo

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IS stands for Islamic State. Other names associated with this vicious group are; ISIL, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or more befittingly Daesh, Arabic word meaning “one who crushes something underfoot”. It aimed at forcefully creating an Islamic caliphate. At the peak of its murderous campaign it seized large expanse of land in both Iraq and Syria triggering millions of refugees unseen in history in that region. Thousand of lives were wasted by this death cult with mindless destruction of civilization. IS has succeeded in globalizing terrorism.

Its affiliates, sleeper cells and even wolf loners have wrecked havoc globally with claims of deadly attacks around the world. According to sources, IS has conducted attacks in more than 29 countries other than Iraq and Syria with over 2000 fatalities.

It was once rated as the richest militant group with an estimated wealth running into billions of dollars. Islamic State’s sources of revenue were from the oil and gas fields it seized, ransoms from kidnapping, bank robbery, smuggling and taxes.

The Saudis and rich Gulf states initially supported IS with training, arms and cash. The US is also guilty in this regard. How did IS spread? Who are behind it? Though it emerged in Iraq as a result of resistance against America’s occupation, its phenomenal spread begs for critical examination.

The ideology of IS principally grew from Saudi’s wahabbism/ salafism preached in mosques and Islamic centers built by the Saudis around the world. Recently Crown Prince Muhammad Ibn Salman confessed the role of Saudi in spreading fundamentalism, as a bulwark against the Iranian revolution.

It seems to have backfired as IS tried to attack the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. It is now apparent that the Saudis/US/Israel are bent on reshaping the Middle East. Saudi’s infamous intervention in Syria, and Yemen, the crisis it ignited with Qatar and recently in Lebanon doesn’t help the Muslim world. The Saudis are desperately in alliance with Israel to confront Iran.
The Middle Eastern states are essentially weakened by war/instability and ripe to reshape it in America’s interest.

The recent Kurdish (Israel has shown interest in Kurdistan) referendum for statehood, which met a brick wall, was to test the waters towards balkanization the region. Islam is not strange in Europe. Did Europe consciously allow/encourage this perverted Daesh ideology to grow? Did it deliberately allow these fringe elements posing as Jihadists destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya? France, Germany, Britain and Belgium citizens contribute more to IS than other EU members.

The US and Russian intelligence communities observed that between 30-40, 000 foreign fighters fought for IS in Iraq and Syria. Ironically, the chicken is coming home to roost, as IS fighters are returning back to Europe to continue with their murderous campaign. Why did Europe with its so-called sophisticated security network allow the growth of these deranged Muslim groups that preach hate and death? Was it to give Islam a bad name? Since the collapse of Communism, Islam is tagged the new enemy in global power confi guration.

Now that IS is being decimated, the old ShiaSunni friction is once again taking the front burner with the alliance of Trump, Israel and Saudis beating war drums against Iran. This congruence of political Zionism and political wahabbism beats anything the Muslim world can fathom. However, from 2016 IS suff ered series of defeats in both Iraq and Syria.

It is also instructive that neither Iraq nor Syria took the battles against IS with levity and Nigeria must learn to crush a terrorist group no matter its size with a sledgehammer. According to sources, the Iraqis mobilized 54, 000 security forces, 40, 000 Kurdish militia, 14, 000 para military, 14000 Sunni/ Christians/Yazidis volunteers and 500 US service members just to retake Mosul. Similarly, the Syrians took the threat of IS and militant groups seriously. Besides the Syrian army and volunteers, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah and to a limited extent, Lebanon are all fighting the IS menace. A combination of these forces have radically degraded IS and to the point of decimation.

The fight against Boko Haram must be everybody’s business in Nigeria. Instead of quarantining able-bodied men and women in camps government should train them to fight to retake their ancestral homes. In fact they know the terrain better than the Nigerian army. It is very pertinent to ask what happens “the day after IS” especially for Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram (BH).

These wandering Jihadists will hardly go back to their countries and as President Muhammadu Buhari rightly observed, they may gravitate towards weaker states. Already, IS has moved towards South East Asia with deadly war in Marawi in Philippines. The recent killing of 305 Muslim worshippers in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt is attributed to IS. What is more alarming to yours sincerely from Borno state is the US intelligence linking the recent killing of four of its soldiers in Tongo Tongo in Niger to IS. The Mali- Niger corridor is heating up with IS members from Libya.

There is need for vigilance along Niger and Chad borders. It is well known that the BH faction led by Al Barnawi has sworn allegiance to the late Caliph of IS Abubakar Al Baghdadi so IS is already in Nigeria. Sources claimed that this faction is in northern Borno and the Libya- Niger corridor could be used to smuggle in both fighters and weapons.

Sadly, Chad and Cameroon are losing steam in the war against BH. One could also ask of what use are the military presence of America, France and the UK in Niger and Chad? President Buhari’s commitment to secure Nigeria is commendable.
I hope the Nigerian security is prepared for the consequences of the anticipation that these wandering jihadists may end up swelling the ranks BH. The communities along the borders of Niger, Chad and Cameroon are recruited as border guards to secure those areas. The Nigerian government should transform the war against BH to people’s war by arming civilians to fight the war. The battle must be taken to every inch in the space occupied by BH. That strategy has proved successful in both Iraq and Syria.

Sabo writes from Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Abuja

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