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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs