In This Review

Insurgency and War in Nigeria:  Regional Fracture and the Fight  Against Boko Haram
Insurgency and War in Nigeria: Regional Fracture and the Fight Against Boko Haram
By Akali Omeni
I.B. Tauris, 2020, 288 pp
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Most academic studies of Boko Haram have focused on the Islamist militant group’s sociological roots and religious antecedents. Aside from two short chapters on the organization’s formative years and its turn to violence, Omeni’s highly original study focuses instead on trying to explain the group’s success over the last few decades as a fighting force. He analyzes its ability to benefit from the rugged environment in which it operates, in northeastern Nigeria, on the borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. He then turns to its military tactics. Many analyses of the group emphasize its use of seemingly indiscriminate violence against civilians, including kidnappings and suicide bombings. Omeni argues, however, that Boko Haram has sometimes operated as a more traditional insurgency and has exhibited both organizational resilience and a good deal of strategic savvy in its choice of targets and its ability to surprise the Nigerian army with changing tactics. The book also includes a useful discussion of the group’s relationship with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), which ultimately led Boko Haram to fragment into two rival factions in 2016. Unfortunately, the book does not discuss the implications of the recent death of Abubakar Shekau, who had led the organization since 2009.