DON’T FORGET COVID19 AS A POSSIBLE JIHADIST WEAPON OF CHOICE WHEN RE-JIGGING THE NIGERIAN SECURITY ARCHITECTURE – A COUNTER TERRORISM SPECIALIST WARNS
As governments rejig on counter insurgency strategies (COIN) in Northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin, desperate terrorist groups will rejig on tactics. It is now necessary for national and regional states fighting ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked groups in a covid19 era to plan for the worst case scenario in order to respond without surprises.
In the wake of the Nigerian military intelligence-led ground and aerial offensives against ISIS and AL Qaeda affiliated Jihadist strongholds in the Sambisa Forest, the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin, the Mandara mountains, North East and recently in the North West Nigeria, there is a likelihood that weakened and struggling Boko Haram and ISWAP factions may choose to weaponize the coronavirus as Biological warfare tactic.
The aim, to disable and slow down the operational capacity of the Nigerian Army, regional troops and other sister agencies involved in the frontline. It is possible that IDPs camps could become the biggest and weakest targets for infection by Boko Haram and ISWAP jihadist groups to delay and frustrate any plans for relocation of displaced persons into their home communities - but also to target AID workers and delivery partners considered by jihadist as indirect and direct representatives of western civilization. If covid19 is weaponized to hit these strategic targets through human or other form of infection mechanism, frontline operational engagement and humanitarian efforts in the region will go into coma.
As the Nigerian security Chiefs and North East/West affected state governments engage in re-strategizing on how best to improve security interventions in the complex and diverse crime-terror nexus in jihadist/criminal hot spots , all necessary efforts on awareness, vigilance, safeguards must be put in place to plan and prepare for any covid19 outbreak deployed as a biological warfare in the theatre of war.
Boko Haram and ISWAP jihadist groups are facing real operational pressure from the Nigerian Military and regional Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) security services, desperation has become the rationale behind their criminal activities. The need to survive could push these Al-Qaeda and ISIS linked groups with twisted ideologies and perceived goals to resort to the use of COVID19 virus as an effective weapon against frontline troops and other stakeholders labelled as near and far enemies. Any deliberate spread of COVID19 by jihadist using fighters, innocent women and children will further cripple the already impacted Nigerian and regional economy. No nation can sustain a complex insurgency if the economy is crippled as a result of frequent lockdown measures.
There are several classified effective methods of designing and implementing a robust preventive and response CBRNE counter measure in hots spots with warning indicators. A special ear on the ground awareness framework is one proven methodology amongst other multi-agency approaches that could be assessed. If you see something say something - this is the people’s war to win and all hands must be on deck.
About The Author
David Otto is the Director for Stepped In – Step Out UK Ltd and a Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert. He is a Certified Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CAS), a Certified Master Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CMAS) and a programme trainer with the Anti -Terrorism Accreditation Board (ATAB). Twitter @ottotgs Email: David.firstname.lastname@example.org