Note: I initially began this post as a one off post, but it will spill over into another post, and I hope it does not progress and then become a three part series, writing and cross checking is a tedious process.
If ever the Nigerian State hopes to see an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, it must go back to the drawing boards, recognize that right now it has no knowledge of what is going on within the insurgency, it has no real workable plan beyond public relations exercises and piling up bodies for the photo ops, and then consult with the people who know and understand what is Boko Haram, before drawing up a whole new plan with a radically different approach to solving the problem. Such a plan must provide a long term approach to tackling what gave rise to the insurgency, what has sustained it, and the insidious virus it has spawned that is taking firm root within elements of society in this region.
A key part of any such plan, must include how to cure the second generation of Boko Haram that in some cases has reached or rather is reaching maturity.But first it must understand what the Second Generation is, and what is the role of this second generation within the whole grand scheme of things.
When Muhammad Yusuf started preaching and teaching, and was busy laying the foundational ground work for what metamorphosed into the Yusufiyya Movement, he was a married man and would go on to marry even more wives. His wives were fertile and gave birth to children for him, and in addition to that they were deeply in love with him and were loyal?extremely committed to him and his cause. Many of his earlier followers in the very late 90’s and the early 2000’s also were either married or were getting married, giving birth to kids whose first religious teaching was the Yusufiyyah creed. Many poor children were lured to his markaz and were subsequently indoctrinated into the movement’s ideology. The average number of wives his followers had was two.
After 2009 they dispersed and split following leadership tussles, and launched their jihad to conquer the land. A key feature of their campaign was the abduction of women and girls, a practice which only gained the spotlight following the mass abduction of the Chibok girls. But before Chibok, they had literarily kidnapped over a thousand women and girls of various ages, mostly young ‘fertile” women. In one of his treatises before 2009, Muhammad Yusuf theorized that the jihad can only be sustained, established and expanded by its children, those who were born into the life and culture of jihad, who know nothing outside it, and thus are more protected from the corruption of the world. In that treatise which I was opportuned to read and have explained to me by one of the scholars/ideologues of the old Yusufiyyah Movement in great detail some years back, Muhammad Yusuf talked about expanding the sect’s population base by taking female slaves, selling the older, less fertile ones, and keeping the younger ones to serve as what I will call ‘breeders’ to enable them have as many children born in as short a time as possible.
Anyone who has lived with the Yusufiyyah people knows the great emphasis they place on bringing up a child upon the creed that they hold on to with no deviation margin. And when they began conquering all these areas, they were quick in beginning the implementation of Muhammad Yusuf’s plan.
They started by abducting Christian and Muslim women all over the North East and enslaving them, then they moved to subtly pressuring parents in areas they captured to marry their daughters to their fighters. They would sieze a town, and subtly make parents agreeable to their upcoming marriage proposals before hand by abducting all the local Christian girls left in town and some selected Muslim females. Then they would go from door to door with between N1,500 to N3,000 bride price, and some yards of cloth materials (as a bridal gift) and offer to marry the remaining Muslim girls and single/widowed/divorced women in the town. You as a father would get the hint (and the daughter would too), either your daughter is married to our fighter or we declare you an apostate, kill you and still take her an d your wife included as a bonus prize. Trying to hide your daughter or lying that you don’t have a daughter won’t work as before attacking the down, their operatives within have already conducted a covert census of all the females in the area, and if you lie they will kill you and still take away your daughter and your wife.
After ‘marrying’ these girls they organize indoctrination classes for them, where they feed them with propaganda and continously work on their minds to become supportive of their creed. Add to this the bad boy syndrome that some females tend to admire in their choice of men, the Stockholm Syndrome, and over time resignation of themselves to the rightness of the insurgents, and you find that many of these women embraced and imbibed the Yusufiyyah creed passively without even knowing it. Some developed feelings (however bizarre or confused) for the men they were either married or given to as war booty, others found the insurgent-wife lifestyle attractive and more comfortable (free expensive looted gifts, slaves to do their bidding etc) and others were simply convinced that the insurgents are on the right path. Whatever was the case, the results were ultimately the same. Many of these women became supporters of the insurgents.
So you find that the children they gave birth to, were growing up on a templated parental guidance, designed to produce little Yusufiyyah adherents from their cradle stage. And this system has produced thousands of children who know only Yusufiyyah and it’s ideologies, who know no other education or guidance outside the Boko Haram groups. Some of these kids, especially those born in the late 90’s to the sect’s first members are firebrand radicals even within the movement, and these ones are now in their teens. Consider that the Islamic age of maturity for a man that his pledge can be accepted and can join the armies going out to fight is 15, and you see that the earliest sets of this second generation are coming of age.