News / Africa

    Analysts: Nigeria’s Boko Haram Funding Vast, Varied

    FILE - A Nigerian policeman stands guard by burned out cars and houses, following an attack by suspected Islamic extremists in Kawuri, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
    FILE - A Nigerian policeman stands guard by burned out cars and houses, following an attack by suspected Islamic extremists in Kawuri, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
    Heather Murdock
    In one of the poorest regions of the world, Nigerian insurgents fight with advanced weaponry and disappear into the shadows after massive attacks.  Security analysts say funding for these operations is most likely vast and varied, and the only way to permanently stop the fighting is to cut it off.  
     
    Late last year, militants bombed a police station, an army base and attacked the Nigerian air force. They left behind the bodies of two suspected Boko Haram fighters, tangled in the bicycles that residents say they were riding during the attack.
     
    But their low-tech vehicles were deceiving, analysts say, as the Boko Haram militancy continues to evolve. Now the group appears to be awash with high-end weaponry.
     
    “They’re starting to get their hands on high-grade equipment like artillery and things like that," said Yan St-Pierre, CEO of the Counter-Terrorism Modern Security Consulting Group. "You don’t attack the air force base and military bases without having more support either.  So it’s a combination of two factors.”

    Boko Haram is an Islamist militia that preaches a harsh form of Sharia law. It has been blamed for thousands of deaths in the past four-and-a-half years, in attacks on schools, churches, mosques and the government. Its more recent targets include villages and a heavily fortified northern prison.

    But how, in this impoverished region, do local militants make enough money for heavy weaponry?  St-Pierre says foreign militant groups, like al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, may be partially funding Boko Haram, but their income likely comes from a much wider variety of sources.

    “It is a very well-funded organization where it has so many sources of income including in Nigeria and that whole region," he said. "It does get money from the piracy, especially from the west coast of Africa.  Drug trafficking helps, smuggling."
     
    Boko Haram’s expenses, he adds, are considerably smaller than for a regular army.  Mostly, St-Pierre says, the militants need money for weapons, which are increasingly available and cheap as unrest in other parts of Africa and the Middle East have created what he calls an arms trafficking “highway.”
     
    Bank robberies and stealing from the Nigerian military are other ways Boko Haram has paid its bills, says Elizabeth Donnelly of the Africa Program with London policy institute Chatham House.  But she cautions that it's difficult to pinpoint details of the funding, just as it is hard to know what the group stands for, how big it is or who its leaders are.
     
    “I think on one hand as time has gone on infiltration of the group has become more difficult," she said. "I think the other thing is that actually Boko Haram seems to take steps to clear up evidence after an attack, which is also a problem.”

    Before authorities can cut off Boko Haram funding, she adds, they have to find it.  And doing that, Donnelly says, would go a long way toward crippling the group.  

    Although some security analysts say Boko Haram is internationally backed, she says even if it has international ties, Boko Haram’s interests appear to remain entirely in Nigeria.
     
    She says this suggests that as the insurgency drags on, destroying the economy in northeastern Nigeria and scaring away residents, Boko Haram's funding may also suffer.

    “If it’s funding itself and feeding itself by theft from the surrounding areas, then actually when there’s nothing left to take, that’s a serious question for the group," she said. "It would have to throw its net wider.”

    Politicians and traditional leaders in Nigeria often accuse their opponents of supporting Boko Haram financially, but Donnelly says there is no hard evidence from any side that this is true.  
     
    In a speech this week, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki said amid the uncertainty, neither military might nor peace talks alone will end the violence.  He called for educational and prison reform and other efforts to prevent people from joining Boko Haram in the first place.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: rita Stephen from: kano
    April 14, 2014 4:14 AM
    God will punish u book haram for killing innocent ppl u will have no place in Paradise judgement awaits u all.....

    by: Abel & Cain from: Nigeria
    March 31, 2014 7:55 AM
    Abubakar Shekau is not a true moslem. he is an infidel, a misfit and the least of all humanity.

    by: Canopy from: Abidjan
    March 22, 2014 6:46 PM
    Heather Murdock is a compulsive liar, who are these security analyst and where are the evidences to support all these unfounded lies. Ignorant Westernized Journalist at their lying best.

    by: Moses Ahua from: Nigeria
    March 22, 2014 5:53 PM
    Now it has come to the level that those who are so called boko haram will be burning places of worship schools, distroying peoples life like an animal and the leaders from the north are still inssisting and sponoring them. So they want to end the world? This is my question

    by: Kenneth ukor from: Nigeria
    March 22, 2014 2:34 PM
    If not for the selfish interest of our leaders,who are just been there for them self,nobody will no wat they cal bh.but come to think of it the northen laeder do no who dis people are.nd one word from them can stop oall the killing of innocent souls.

    by: King Dave from: United States
    March 21, 2014 3:08 PM
    Boko Haram has fled to Niger and has not launched an attack in weeks. Perhaps merely laying low for a while. Looting an the chance to escape poverty draws people to militancy. It's a dire situation for Nigeria.

    Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau has claimed Allah has made him invincible. I don't see any evidence to the contrary
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 21, 2014 4:29 PM
    I agree, it's human nature to take advantage of bad situations.

    by: Anonymous
    March 20, 2014 11:15 PM
    Hogwash! Boko Haram has been robbing Nigerian banks for cash, raiding local villages for food stocks, abducting women as cooks & sex slaves and carting away arms and ammunitions from military barracks and you claim they are funded by Alqaida? What nonsense! If they had foreign bakers or financiers why, as you yourself observed, have their interests remained squarely in Nigeria? Why have they not launched attacks on Cameroon, Chad or Niger that have less stronger military capabilities than Nigeria? I now begin to wonder if, for lack of facts and information, western journalism escapes into flights of fancy and fiction?
    In Response

    by: chosenbygrace from: Western something
    April 16, 2014 2:39 PM
    "western journalism escapes into flights of fancy and fiction?"

    I didn't know "western journalism" was alive. Do you also think "science" is a singular entity that walks around and learns by itself?
    In Response

    by: DJ from: Lagos
    March 27, 2014 7:34 AM
    The whole BH problem is really murky and difficult to decrypt. What's really been worrying Nigeria security over the past months is that BH is actually using neighboring states like Cameroon to regroup. Also, the disarray of the JTF allows BH to be more successful in Nigeria, so attacking outside their comfort zone might not be in their plans right now.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora