By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
In furtherance to his regular, very highly effective advisory so far towards achieving success in the ongoing war against insurgency in Nigeria, United Kingdom based counter-terrorism and organised crime expert, David Otto, has issued a fresh one, preempting what ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists in Nigeria and its neighbouring are capable of doing and gives a guidance how to nip – whatever such plan – in the bud before it hatches.
He said the international terrorist groups are possibly going to use COVID-19 as a possible jihad weapon to weaken the efforts of the military forces, whose offensives have already frustrated their criminal actions and set them to the level that they now grope and scramble for survival.
David Otto, the Director for Stepped In – Step Out UK Ltd and Certified Anti-Terrorism Specialist however has ready way out to further depress the unfortunate elements who live lives based on distorted ideology.
The article is a follow up to a recent article by the author on UK’s Daily Star Newspapers.
It read in parts: “Recently, the Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) while briefing the press following the country’s National Security Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, among other things stated that the President had directed for the rejigging and reengineering of Nigeria’s securiy architecure. This is righly so, given the growing concerns about the secuirty situation in the country and its effect on Nigeria’s counter-terorism efforts.
“Therefore, as the government rejigs its security aparatus for optimal performace, there are indications that, desperate terrorist groups may take advantage of these changes to also rejig on their tactics and modus operandi. It is necessary for national and regional states at the Lake Chad region fighting ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked groups to consider COVID-19 pandemic as a factor and plan for the worst case scenario to respond more proactively and effectively.
“This is more important in the wake of the Nigerian military ground and aerial offensives against ISIS and Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists strongholds. The troops have dealt devastating blow to the terrorists at various locations within Sambisa forest, the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin, the Mandara mountains, North East and recently in the North Western geo-political regions of Nigeria.
“There are indicators that the terrorists are at their wits end very desperate for survival and relevant and may up their game.
“Consequently, there is every likelihood that the heavily weakened and struggling Boko Haram terrorists and their ISWAP factions may choose to weaponize the coronavirus pandemic as Biological warfare tactic.
“Accordingly, the aim is to disable and slow down the operational capacity of the Nigerian Army, regional troops and other sister agencies in the frontline. It is possible that IDPs camps could become the biggest and weakest targets for infection by Boko Haram and ISWAP jihadist groups ostensibly to delay and frustrate any plans for relocation of displaced persons back to their ancestral communities, towns and villages.
“They may also target aids workers and delivery partners considered by jihadists as indirect and direct representatives of western civilization.
“If COVID-19 is weaponized, it may spread and hit these strategic targets through human or other form of infection mechanism and affect frontline operational engagement and humanitarian efforts in the region.
“As the Federal Government, North East and North West affected state governments engage in re-strategizing on how best to improve security interventions in the complex and diverse crime-terror nexus in jihadists and criminal hotspots, all necessary efforts on awareness, vigilance, safeguards must be put in place to plan and prepare for any COVID-19 outbreak deployed as a biological warfare in the theatre of war.
“Boko Haram and ISWAP jihadist groups are facing real operational pressure from the Nigerian military and regional Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) security services. Consequently, desperation has badly affected their logistics, operational and criminal activities.
“The need to survive is pushing these Al-Qaeda and ISIS linked groups with twisted ideologies and perceived goals to resort to the use of COVID-19 virus. They might use it as an effective weapon against frontline troops and other stakeholders labeled as near and far enemies.
“Any deliberate spread of COVID-19 by jihadist using fighters, innocent women and children will further cripple the already impacted Nigerian and regional economy. No nation can sustain a complex insurgency if the economy is crippled as a result of frequent lockdown measures.
“The best time for such eventuality is now. There are several classified effective methods of designing and implementing a robust preventive, response and counter measures with warning indicators. A special ear on the ground and awareness framework being one proven methodology amongst other multi-agency approaches that could be assessed.
“If you see something say something – this is the people’s war to win and all hands must be on deck.”