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Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and the Surge in Female Abductions in Southeastern Niger / Elizabeth Pearson; Jacob Zenn

ICCT Reports

Swansea University Author: Elizabeth, Pearson

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DOI (Published version): 10.19156/2021.1.01

Abstract

This paper uses a gendered analysis, alongside original data, to explore an increase in abductions of Muslim women and girls in southeastern Niger between March 2019 and the end of April 2020, and what this indicates about jihadist factional dynamics. These abductions occurred in operational areas h...

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Published in: ICCT Reports
ISSN: 2468-0486
Published: International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague 2021
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa56106
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Abstract: This paper uses a gendered analysis, alongside original data, to explore an increase in abductions of Muslim women and girls in southeastern Niger between March 2019 and the end of April 2020, and what this indicates about jihadist factional dynamics. These abductions occurred in operational areas historically associated with Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which is loyal to Islamic State. Yet, ISWAP condemns its rival faction, Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram (Jamaat Ahlus Sunnah Li-Dawa wal-Jihad), for that faction’s abduction and self-described enslavement of Muslim women. As such the abductions are an anomaly. The piece, therefore, considers three alternative possible reasons for the surge of abductions in southeastern Niger during this period. These are: the rise of a new Abubakar Shekau-loyal Boko Haram sub-faction operating in ISWAP’s historical areas of operations in southeastern Niger and around Lake Chad, led by the jihadist commander Bakura; leadership changes in ISWAP beginning in March 2019 that resulted in an ideological shift toward more ‘Shekau-like’ operations; and command-and-control issues, with ISWAP members engaging in abductions without leadership sanction. The paper argues that the new data, alongside a gender analysis of the ideological positions of the jihadist groups in the Lake Chad Basin Area, suggests the emergence of the new Bakura sub-faction contributed most to the increase in abductions of Muslim in southeastern Niger. The finding has implications for understanding the jihadist actors in the region, studying how gender functions in factionalisation, and developing a gendered policy to counter Boko Haram and a counter-terrorism strategy for member-states of the Lake Chad-based Multinational Joint Task Force.
College: Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law