The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), has identified Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM) and ISGS as groups bolstering terror activities in Nigeria and other Sahel countries.
The NSA urged Islamic preachers and Imams to deploy their vantage positions to canvas support for ongoing counter-terrorism operations.
He observed that alliances between the clerics and security forces “should be the backbone to rebuilding our terrorism infested communities”.
The NSA spoke at the 14th Workshop of the League of Ulamas, Preachers and Imams of Sahel countries in Abuja.
He said: “Terrorism and the rapid escalation of violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel since 2016 have been primarily driven by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which mainly operates in Mali and extends to Niger Republic and Burkina Faso.
“It is bolstered by activities of groups such as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM) and ISGS, which have continued to pose an imminent threat to the stability of the region.
“In Nigeria, Boko-Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) dominate terrorist activities, especially in the North-Eastern part of the country.
“The situation in the Sahel has never been grimmer, extremist violence continues to spread; the number of internally displaced persons (IDPS) is growing; and food insecurity is affecting more people than ever before.
“There are several not entirely congruent working hypothesis underpinning foreign and regional government strategies”.
The NSA added: “It is imperative to reassess and reset the strategy towards the Sahel, setting aside faulty assumption.
“Particularly, the international community and its Sahelian partners should prioritise governance, press for or pursue an expanded peace process, cautiously through dialogue, and push for adoption of more non-kinetic measures through affected communities.
“Nonetheless, the possibility of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) creating an established caliphate to rival Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) countries has been checkmated by series of concerted and reinvigorated efforts of the countries of the Region.
“The adoption of both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches by LCBC countries to stem the conflict has yielded tremendous success.
“The adoption of propaganda videos by Terrorist groups to project themselves as contending powers in the region, is a mere attempt to garner support from sympathisers, as they struggle to maintain relevance.
“Thus, it is assessed that while the groups maintain the long term strategic goal of creating a caliphate, the efforts of LCBC countries will continue to frustrate that goal.
“In that regard, it is imperative that Ulamas, Preachers and Community Leaders in your localities key in to support efforts of our Security Forces, in order to end this menace. Just as collaborations between governments are boosting the advance of Security Forces in the fight against terrorism, alliances and group effort like LOPIS should be the backbone to rebuilding our terrorism infested communities.
“There’s no gun more powerful than enlightenment and education at the grass root level.”