Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and the Surge in Female Abductions in Southeastern NigerDr. Elizabeth Pearson, Jacob Zenn 5 Feb 2021
This paper explores 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. The piece 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, suggest the emergence of the new Bakura sub-faction contributed most to the increase in abductions of Muslim in southeastern Niger.