Terrorists from the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād have distributed Ramadan welfare packages to some residents of Borno and Yobe states.
It was gathered that the package distributed by the insurgents included rice, beans, millet, maize, sugar, spageheti and cash gifts.
A security source said the gesture was to induce the villagers to join the group’s ranks as militants. “Imagine, they (insurgents) claimed that the gesture was aimed at assisting villagers to perform Ramadan fast and Sallah with ease and happiness, the same villagers they killed their friends and family members,” the source said.
A 2019 report by the International Crisis Group, a non-profit think tank, observed that ISWAP’s approach to recruiting new fighters proved effective.
Despite breaking away from the Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram faction in 2016, the population of its fighters had roughly doubled those of the latter according to estimates.
“Although its leadership has been largely ethnic Kanuri, ISWAP has recruited significantly among lacustrine communities, notably the ethnic Buduma, many of whom earn a living from fishing,” the group wrote.
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has made similar observations.
“As part of this approach, the ideological aspect of the crisis must be dealt with. The ability of the group to recruit is one of the biggest reasons for its expansion, and so a deeper understanding of its recruitment patterns and operating mechanisms is crucial,” ISS senior researcher Remadji Hoinathy warned in May 2019.
Often ISWAP exploits gaps in governance by trying to prove that it can provide essential services in the areas under its control.