KWALARAM AIRSTRIKE: MORE BOKO HARAM/ ISWAP TOP COMMANDERS PERISH AS NIGERIAN MILITARY LEVELS JIHADIST OPERATIONAL CAMP
The Nigerian Air-Force in coordination with the Nigerian Army and the regional Multi-National Joint Task Force successfully launched another devastating intelligence led aerial and ground coordinated operation targeting jihadist of ISIS in West Africa key affiliate – the so-called Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) -- operating predominantly in Northern Nigeria and the fringes of the Lake Chad.
Impeccable sources confirmed that three Nigerian Air Force fighter jets scramble above a location given as Kwalaram Local Government Area (LGA) at local time 1:30pm August 28th 2020. About half a dozen precision bombs hit the jihadist hideout camps in Kwalaram – around the North Eastern Lake Chad axis – an unknown number of high profile fighters and unit commanders have been neutralised. A thorough ground damage assessment is ongoing and updates will be made known.
Earlier ground Intelligence had revealed an anticipated convergence of a substantial number of ISWAP remaining unit commanders at its Markas (Dauala) at Kwalaram. Sources with knowledge of the jihadist modus operandi say the purpose of the rare convergence of ISWAP unit commanders was to brainstorm, plan and coordinate effective battlefield operations against soft civilian and hard military targets – especially Nigerian military and MNJTF contributing troops.
The Leadership of ISWAP had ordered not only unit commanders to take part in this jihadist gathering but also specialist fighters, Naqib, Munzir living in the entire Lake Chad to converge immediately at its Markas (Daula), at KWALARAM. The ‘no choice’ order was prompted following recent devastating defeat suffered by ISWAP as Nigerian military air interdiction bombarded major ISIS camps in Kirta, Sabon Tumbu, Tumbun Gini, Tumbun Allura, Tumbun Doki and other camps around Abadam LGA where hundreds of foreign trained fighters including 15 high profile Boko Haram Commanders were neutralised.
To diminish the battlefield capability of ISIS in West Africa, all local, national, regional and international civil and military stakeholders must continue to share a common counter insurgency (COIN) goal.
The intensified intelligence led COIN ground and aerial offensives by the Nigerian Army; Nigerian Air- Force and regional states Chad , Niger and Cameroon must be sustained on identified ISIS hideouts. The current sustained battlefield impact is pushing a self-destruct button amongst jihadist operational command and fluid leadership. As ISWAP and Boko Haram JAS factions are forced to relocate from one hideout to another, the risk of exposure and battlefield elimination increases.
Local communities must be protected and given the right support to enhance civil-military relationships with genuine and practical efforts to win the hearts and minds of the local communities who are key to information generation – As long as the local population feels protected and confident , the security and armed forces will continue to prosper in the battlefield. These steady battlefield successes against Boko Haram ISWAP jihadist leadership presents a bigger incentive for all internal and external genuine partners to place all clean hands on deck.
Military led aerial strikes have the potential to severely disrupt Boko Haram ISWAP operational activities in the region – but there is a need for inter-agency stakeholders to engage in all efforts to dry up the pool from which Boko Haram and ISWAP recruit fighters and block the porous routes where they acquire operational resources at relative ease. Without a comprehensive COIN effort, these precision airstrikes will have a limited impact on the progress of the insurgency war as required – more vulnerable men and women will be recruited to fill the ranks of ISIS in Africa particularly as a new front linked with renegade jihadist and criminals opens up in the North West to stretch the capacity of state and regional security forces.
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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