By Al Emid Author Journalist Broadcaster
The Glamourous Life of an Author
Four people died in northern Cameroon on Saturday in a suicide bomb assault by militants suspected of belonging to Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based terrorist group. As well, three female attackers and one man blew themselves up in the attack, security officials said.
That followed the attack and siege at the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali which cost 20 or more lives and for which an Al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility. The group, known as Al-Mourabitoun said that it was behind the siege and that it was done in cooperation with al Qaeda in the Maghreb according to reports by NBC and other news operations. At time of writing Mali remains in a state of emergency and the hunt continues for several of the assailants. Also at time of writing, ISIS has no apparent connection to this attack.
Whether by coincidence or by design, this attack marks a change in the approach of terrorists in Mali. According to the Global Terrorism Database, between 1990 and 2014, Mali had 199 terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of 725 people including 178 apparent assailants. Additionally, in the first six months of 2015, the country suffered 77 terrorist attacks with 154 deaths, including 48 assailants.
However, until the attack on the hotel this Saturday, assailants rarely targeted business but often focussed on military and diplomatic targets. With one exception, the Saturday attack marked its first assault on a business target.
By comparison, the Cameroon operation bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, according to African correspondent Samuel Okocha. The use of female suicide bombers suggests Boko Haram, and the attack on vulnerable and defenseless individuals also suggests the modus operandi of Boko Haram, Okocha reports. Boko Haram makes no secret of its admiration for ISIS, has pledged allegiance to it and uses ISIS’s methods as a template for its own attacks.
These attacks appear to provide a distraction from its losses. Boko Haram has been losing claimed territories to the Nigerian military, but that has not stopped its hit and run attacks, showing the group can still wreak havoc. The attack in Cameroon shows it still can also launch cross border attacks, Okocha explains.
The Cameroon attack appears to indicate a solidarity with ISIS. Since Boko Haram already sees ISIS as an ally of sorts, the recent Cameroon attack might amount to a show its strength as an affiliate in the region. This makes Boko Haram an asset to ISIS in its campaign to spread its influence.
Meanwhile, Brussels remains on curfew, following recent raids there and police remain on high alert in both Brussels and in Paris following the tragedies there last week.
The closeness of the Mali and Cameroon attacks to the Paris tragedy suggests – but does not conclusively prove — the possibility of co-ordination between terrorist groups. ISIS and the core Al Qaeda have a mutual hatred of each other, rooted in their bitter break-up last year. Still, the kind of planning and groundwork necessary for the Mali and Cameroon attacks at least leaves open the possibility of some co-ordination. What seems clear is that ISIS, directly and through its affiliates, has expanded its plans well outside Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, even if no further attacks occur, the cost to date has become enormous as Paris, Brussels, Washington, New York and other major centers remain tense and Paris has begun trying to heal. Even Dearborn Michigan with its Muslim population subjected to online threats remains on edge.
Amongst the men and women currently vying to move into the White House in January 2017, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made one of the least vague, most specific proposals for defeating ISIS over time. Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations on Thursday, she said that only an overwhelming push by its fellow Sunnis could remove ISIS, a pointed proposal, since ISIS largely consists of disaffected Sunnis and suggesting that they overthrow ISIS seems a difficult proposition.
That seems unlikely as long as Bashar al Assad and his regime remain in power in Syria since some of those disaffected Sunnis regard ISIS as something of a shield against Assad and his murderous regime.
Following almost a year of research, Al Emid’s fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate and set for release by Quidne Press in early 2016 goes behind the news about ISIS and examines what might lie ahead. He has begun developing a follow-up book tentatively set for release later in 2016.