Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād popularly known as Boko Haram needs no introduction following the persistent dastardly acts of terrorism perpetrated by the religious sect, since 2009.
The terrorist group has gotten stronger since then and have also shown no signs of slowing down. Several questions have been asked by Nigerians and the international communities on what this group aims to achieve, what it really wants and how it operates.Prominent among these questions is how the militant group is raising funds to procure sophisticated weapons which they use to carry out their heinous attacks across Nigeria.
According to a survey of academic, governmental and journalistic accounts, Boko Haram funds its escalating acts of terror through black market dealings, local and international benefactors, and links to al-Qa’ida and other well-funded groups in the Middle East such as ISIS, the latest and most dangerous fundamental group in the world today.
Donations (Al-Qai’ida Affiliation)
The story of Boko Haram’s fundraising began after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The group’s original leader, a charismatic cleric named Mohammed Yusuf, who was later killed, founded the group in 2002 pushing an alternative to Western education, which he claimed undermined Nigeria’s development. (The group’s Hausa name translates as “Western education is sin”.)Around that time, Osama bin Laden sent an aide to Nigeria with about £1.8m in local currency to dispense among groups that shared al-Qa’ida’s mission to impose Islamic rule. One of the “major beneficiaries”, the International Crisis Group said, was Boko Haram.
EJ Hogendoorn, the International Crisis Group’s deputy programme director for Africa and an author of (the report), told The Daily Beast
“What I can tell you from talking to lots of conservative Muslims in Nigeria are that there was a lot of money coming into northern Nigeria. There are many sources of that money. One of those sources was from al-Qa’ida.Boko Haram leaders have later said that much of their funding comes from al-Qa’ida. A Boko Haram spokesman said in 2011: “Al-Qaida is our elder brothers. We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them we ask them.”The group has also reportedly gotten money from Algerian al Qaeda offshoot al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Somali group al-Shabab. One motive those groups have is setting up friendly safe havens in the region. “I think there must be some funding coming from some extremist groups who want perhaps to create a base in northern Nigeria,” Nwankwo told VOA News.
(2) Defrauding Banks:
Another way Boko Haram can get funds is by scamming banks.
Use of fraudulent identities and supporting documentation to open and run bank accounts.
Complicit employees facilitating fraud and terrorist financing.
Fraudulent bank loan applications.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has also stated that activities of the Boko Haram sect operating in Nigeria and some neighbouring counties festered due to ease of financing, according to Thisday.
The Director of Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Francis Usani, also accused commercial banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria of complicity in financial risk assessment support.
Inability of the banks and financial institutions to key in to the exercise (National risk assessment) is creating a docile financial environment which is disposed to money laundering and financing of terrorism activities.
(3) Robbery and Raids
Along with ransom money, “Boko Haram has partly financed its militant operations by attacking and robbing banks,” says David Doukhan at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism. The group has robbed hundreds of banks in its home province of Borno and two other northern regions of Nigeria, and nabbed convoys and successful businesses. If that sounds not particularly pious for a fundamentalist religious group, “the robbery is justified by Koranic interpretation that bank robbery is permitted, since the money from the banks is considered ‘spoils of war,'” Doukhan adds. Some estimates put Boko Haram’s thievery spoils at about $6 million.
Boko Haram also raids rural towns and villages; by terrorizing civilians, they can implement random taxes at any time to quickly fill depleted coffers. During 2014 Boko Haram raided over 40 villages with an estimated 2,000 casualties; many of the villages were burned to the ground. These diverse sources have reportedly secured an income for Boko Haram of approximately $70million (N11 billion) between 2006 and 2011.
There’s the black market money. Beyond a hatred of Western education, economic motives may have also driven Boko Haram’s recent abduction of the Chibok school girls. A robust and terrifying slave market exists in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.The US military academy, said: “Kidnapping has become one of [Boko Haram’s] primary funding sources, a way to extract concessions from the Nigerian state and other governments, and a threat to foreigners and Nigerian government officials.”Experts now estimate that kidnapping is worth “millions of dollars in ransom money” to the militants.
(5)Crude Oil Money
Nigerian terror group Boko Haram may be funded with money originating from crude oil thefts. This has prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to launch an investigation with the help of the international community. The comment was made by US congressman Darrell Issa during a meeting in the capital Abuja with the Bring Back Our Girls group, which advocates for the release of some 219 Nigerian girls kidnapped by the terrorists in the restive Borno state as far back as April 2014.A few days after a meeting between Buhari and US President Barack Obama, in a bid to reinforce relations that had deteriorated during Nigeria’s previous administration, the US provided the African country with a list of names of alleged oil thieves.
As part of an anti-corruption campaign Buhari undertook after gaining office in May, he banned 113 vessels from lifting crude oil from some 27 Nigerian ports amid suspicions the vessels had been implicated in illicit activities. He also replaced the whole board of state-run oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Boko Haram has a wide variety of outlets for its fundraising activity. Its success in sustaining attacks depends on a well-oiled financial pipeline. Like many other AQ franchises, Boko Haram collaborates with organized crime syndicates for its operations in drug trafficking, kidnappings, bank robbery, and cyber scams, not to mention continuous theft from Nigeria’s security establishment.