Is Boko Haram on its way to creating a two-state caliphate?

This article in PM News suggests that Boko Haram’s recent capture of a town called Banki, near the border of Cameroon and Nigeria threatens to erase the two states’ border the way ISIS has erased parts of the Syrian-Iraqi border:

Boko Haram’s “lightning territorial gains” could lead to Nigeria breaking up like Iraq, a think-thank has warned.

The Uhuru Times reports a similarly dire prediction in this article, Nigeria Losing Control of Its Northeast to Boko Haram and even goes so far as to suggest that with recent captures of large swaths of northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram could be on its way to establishing a caliphate at least in part of Nigeria, which also puts parts of Cameroon at great risk.

Nigeria is on the verge of losing control of Borno state, including the state capital Maiduguri. Boko Haram have seized territory along at least two of the main approaches to the capital and are reported to be preparing to strike the city. Their seizure of Dikwa and attacks on Bama could indicate a two-pronged assault from the north-east and the south-east. Attacks from elsewhere also cannot be ruled out. If Maiduguri falls, it will be a symbolic and strategic victory unparalleled so far in the conflict.

If Boko Haram are able to continue seizing territory in Borno, including the state capital, it is likely that almost the entire state will soon fall under the insurgency’s control. This will be the realisation of Boko Haram’s ambition to establish a caliphate in north-east Nigeria.

Map of Nigerian states and Cameroon border

And in this Al Jazeera English article, Boko Haram Seizes Strategic Nigerian Town, the concern is evident:

Some analysts have predicted that by seizing territory, Boko Haram is seeking to encircle the state capital, Maiduguri, 70km away, to make it the centre of an Islamic state.

“Nigeria is losing control of large parts of the northeast region,” said Andrew Noakes, of the Nigeria Security Network of experts in a report that warned of potential knock-on effects.

If Boko Haram does seize Maiduguri, the best military stronghold in Borno against the group, it could be devastating. Maiduguri would be to Boko Haram, Nigeria and Cameroon what Raqqa is to ISIS, Syria and Iraq – a seat for its caliphate.

For anyone who wants to know more about Boko Haram, I recommend this Kindle Short, The Hunt for Boko Haram, by Alex Perry, (or you can learn more through his interview with Fresh Air’s Terri Gross). I found Perry’s statement about Boko Haram very compelling and also very scary:

“If you’re looking for logic and clarity and well-thought-out strategy in a group like Boko Haram, you’re going to come up wanting,” Perry tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “This is not smart jihadi thinking. These guys are really badly educated. They’re dumb, essentially.”





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