The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, has identified three religious groups as organisations backing terrorism activities in Nigeria and other Sahel countries.

Speaking at the 14th Workshop of the League of Ulamas, Preachers and Imams of Sahel countries in Abuja, the NSA listed the groups as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM) and Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS).

He observed that alliances between the clerics and Security Forces “should be the backbone to rebuilding our terrorism infested communities”.

Monguno advised Islamic preachers and Imams to use their vantage points to rally support for ongoing counter-terrorism efforts.

He said, “Terrorism and the rapid escalation of violent activities by militant Islamist groups in the Sahel have been primarily driven by the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is based in Mali but also operates in the Niger Republic and Burkina Faso,” he said.

“It is bolstered by the activities of groups like Jama’at Nasr al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM), and the Islamic and Muslim Support Group (ISGS), which have continued to pose a serious threat to regional stability.

“Terrorist activities in Nigeria are dominated by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), particularly in the north-eastern part of the country.

“The situation in the Sahel has never been more dire; extremist violence is spreading; the number of internally displaced persons (IDPS) is increasing; and food shortages are hurting more people than ever before.

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“The international and regional government strategies are based on a number of contradictory working hypotheses.

“It is important to rethink and reset the policy toward the Sahel, putting aside false assumptions.

“In particular, the international community and its Sahelian allies should prioritise governance, press for or pursue an enlarged peace process cautiously through conversation, and force affected communities to take more non-kinetic means.

“However, the idea of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) establishing a caliphate to rival the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) governments has been thwarted by a succession of coordinated and re-energized attempts by the Region’s members.

“The LCBC countries’ use of both kinetic and non-kinetic tactics to terminate the conflict has been extremely successful.

“Terrorist groups’ use of propaganda videos to portray themselves as competing powers in the region is a cynical attempt to gain sympathy from sympathizers as they struggle to stay relevant.

“As a result, it is estimated that while the groups maintain their long-term strategic goal of establishing a caliphate, LCBC countries’ efforts will continue to thwart that goal.

“In that regard, it is critical that Ulamas, Preachers, and Community Leaders in your communities rally to support our Security Forces’ efforts to put an end to this threat.” Alliances and group efforts like LOPIS should be the backbone of rebuilding our terrorism-infested communities, just as collaborations between governments are boosting the advance of Security Forces in the fight against terrorism.

“At the grass-roots level, there is no weapon more powerful than enlightenment and education at the grass root level.”