The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), has identified at least three groups supporting the activities of terrorist organisations in Nigeria and the Sahel.
The groups are the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin, the Islamic and Muslim Support Group and Islamic State in Greater Sahara.
Monguno made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja at the 14th workshop of the league of Ulamas, preachers and Imams of Sahel countries.
The NSA, who urged Islamic preachers and Imams to use their exalted positions to rally support for ongoing counter-terrorism operations, also observed that alliances between the clerics and security forces “should be the backbone of rebuilding our terrorism infested communities.”
He said, “Terrorism and the rapid escalation of violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel since 2016 have been primarily driven by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara, which mainly operates in Mali and extends to Niger Republic and Burkina Faso.
“It is bolstered by activities of groups such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin, the Islamic and Muslim Support Group and the ISGS, which have continued to pose an imminent threat to the stability of the region. In Nigeria, Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province dominate terrorist activities, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.
“The situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer, extremist violence continues to spread; the number of internally displaced persons is growing; and food insecurity is affecting more people than ever before. There are several not entirely congruent working hypotheses underpinning foreign and regional government strategies.”
The NSA added that it was imperative to reassess and reset the strategy towards the Sahel, setting aside faulty assumptions.
He said the international community and the Sahelian partners should prioritise governance, press for or pursue an expanded peace process cautiously through dialogue, and push for the adoption of more non-kinetic measures through the affected communities.
Monguno assured participants that the possibility of the Islamic State in West Africa Province creating an established caliphate to rival the Lake Chad Basin Commission countries had been truncated by a series of concerted and reinvigorated efforts of the countries of the region.
He stated, “The adoption of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches by the LCBC countries to stem the conflict has yielded tremendous success.
“The adoption of propaganda videos by terrorist groups to project themselves as contending powers in the region is a mere attempt to garner support from sympathisers, as they struggle to maintain relevance. Thus, it is assessed that while the groups maintain the long-term strategic goal of creating a caliphate, the efforts of the LCBC countries will continue to frustrate that goal.”