New insights on Boko Haram
Thursday June 20, 13.45 - 15.15
Session 2, Auditorium 6, Eilert Sundt building
Chair: Salma Abdalla
- Tarela Juliet Ike: Harnessing media data and public perceptions in enhancing counterterrorism policies: A Qualitative case study of Boko Haram in Nigeria
- Wazeer Murtala: Combating Boko Haram; Challenges and Prospects
- Jacob Zenn: An Auto-ethnography from Boko Haram Studies: The Case for Legitimizing Digital Sources and Avoiding the Feedback Loop
- Amélie Godefroidt and Arnim Langer: With Open Arms? A Conjoint Experiment on Attitudes towards Reintegrating Former Boko Haram Fighters in Nigeria
Harnessing media data and public perceptions in enhancing counterterrorism policies: A Qualitative case study of Boko Haram in Nigeria
Tarela Juliet Ike, University of East London, UK
While the study of terrorism has slowly evolved to a state of data surplus with the social media constituting a massive source, it appears there is limited research on how best data from this could be harness to enhance counterterrorism policies. This paper specifically address this question from the perspective of Boko Haram and public perceptions on the efficacy of Nigeria counterterrorism approaches.
A qualitative method and semi-structured interview of 53 participants which comprised of members of the public and security representatives recruited from Lagos state in Nigeria were adopted. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse data using Nvivo data management software. The study found that perceptions on the perceived (in)efficacy of government’s counterterrorism strategies (e.g. military) mostly stems from media sources such as social-media. In essence, the paper argues that, given the dynamic nature of terrorism and the impact of the media on public perceptions of counterterrorism strategies, there is need to integrate findings from these sources in improving existing counterterrorism strategies in Nigeria.
Combating Boko Haram; Challenges and Prospects
Wazeer Murtala, University of Antwerpen, Belgium
This study primarily sets out to look at the efforts of the Nigerian government to combat Boko Haram. It looks at the challenges faced in the counter-terrorist campaign and how the strategies have failed or succeeded so far. The work situates the conflict within the context of political realism. Attempts are made to take a broad look at the general theories of counter-terrorism and how the federal government of Nigeria has fared in the practical application of counter-terrorist strategies against the Boko Haram terrorist group. This is especially important because Boko Haram has remained a thorn in the flesh of Nigeria as the primary State of target and it has evolved to seize the headline among the ranks and files of global terrorist groups.
A discussion of terrorist groups in the 21st century Africa, and indeed, the world, will not be complete without a mention of the group. This work is an attempt to look at the many efforts that have been adopted to combat Boko Haram by, first by Nigeria as the primary state of target and then by other neighbouring countries as well as other international groups. What are the failures and successes so far?
An Auto-ethnography from Boko Haram Studies:
The Case for Legitimizing Digital Sources and Avoiding the Feedback Loop
Jacob Zenn, Georgetown University
Since the emergence of Boko Haram as one of the world’s most violent jihadist movements, there has been a plethora of books, articles, and reports written about the group. Yet, there is still limited use of Twitter, Telegram, Facebook, government databases, scholarly blogs, and even skype and e-mail to study the group. Rather, there is an emphasis in certain quarters on meeting personally with people “close” to Boko Haram even though it is recognized that it is near impossible to meet the active members or high-level members in prison, let alone the current leaders themselves.
This article offers an auto-ethnography of this author’s experiences using the aforementioned digital sources to research Boko Haram and obtain insights from “inside” the group that could not be obtained through field research. While this article does not seek to address who is “right” about Boko Haram or discredit the value of fieldwork, it does seek to establish that digital sources provide unique, valid, and legitimate information and should be further exploited by researchers. The article will present evidence that such sources, however, remain underutilized and even stigmatized to the detriment and stagnation of the field. Generational, academic discipline, and ideological explanations are proffered to explain the methodological gap between different parties studying the group.
With Open Arms?
A Conjoint Experiment on Attitudes towards Reintegrating Former Boko Haram Fighters in Nigeria
Amélie Godefroidt and Arnim Langer, Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD), KU Leuven
In recent years, many deradicalization and reintegration programmes have been introduced in order to deal radicalised individuals and terrorists. In the current literature, these programmes have mainly been evaluated regarding the extent to which they lead to meaningful attitudinal and behavioural changes among enrolled ex-combatants. In contrast, little attention is usually paid to the willingness of civilians to accept ex-combatants back into their communities. However, civilians’ attitudes towards reintegration is a crucial precondition for such programmes to be successful. In order to gain new insights into civilians’ attitudes and willingness to reintegrate former terrorist fighters, we have conducted a conjoint experiment with a large pool of Nigerian university students (N > 2,100) concerning their willingness to reintegrate former Boko Haram fighters. In particular, we have examined how civilians’ attitudes are shaped by 1) certain background characteristics of former combatants, 2) their actions during their enrolment in Boko Haram, and 3) their behaviour since leaving the organization. While there is substantial resistance against having to reintegrate former fighters back into society, the conjoint experiment nonetheless elucidated how certain preconditions as well as actions undertaken by former combatants in the period after leaving Boko Haram can induce more support for reintegration.