State Department Releases New Country Reports on Terrorism: Nigeria

On June 24, 2020, the United States Department of State released its 2019 Country reports on Terrorism, in which they focus on terrorist groups and activity in each country, noting specific terrorist events throughout the past year that were particularly devastating or newsworthy.

In its report on Nigeria, the State Department focuses on the activity of Islamic militant groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP or ISIS-WA) which are predominantly active in Northeast Nigeria, engaging in terrorist activities such as killings, kidnappings, and desecration of personal and community property. The State Department reveals that:

“ISIS-WA generally focused on attacking government and security forces and applying increased pressure on transport routes across Borno State, and it tried to cultivate stronger ties with local communities, including by providing limited social services and eliminating moderate leaders. BH attacks did not appear to discriminate between civilians and government officials when conducting attacks.”

As a result of the ceaseless terrorist activity, internal displacement in Adamawa and Borno states, as well as external displacement to nations such as Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The State Department also takes note that one abduction victim of Boko Haram’s attack in Chibok, Leah Sharibu, remains in captivity and has spent her last two birthdays there.

In its list of notable terrorist attacks of 2019, the State Department mentions:

  • an attack in Borno by ISWAP which left ten dead in February;
  • an incident in June where suspected Boko Haram militants killed 30 citizens and injured at least 40;
  • an attack by ISWAP on a convoy of Action Against Hunger workers which led to one death and many missing workers,;
  • an attack by Boko Haram in Borno State capital, killing 65 citizens, primarily ordinary civilians
  • the beheading of 11 Nigerian Christians by ISWAP which was revealed in a video that was briefly circulated on social media.

Agencies responsible for national security and counterterrorism in Nigeria include the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). Throughout 2019, many individuals from Boko Haram and ISWAP were investigated for their terrorist activities, and although many were acquitted of charges, many spent extended time in prisons where they were required to complete a “mandated de-radicalization program or transfer to state-owned transit center for reintigration into their home communities.”

For the full DOS 2019 Counterterrorism report on Nigeria, click here.