Reducing Lands, but Increasing Bombs?

Like Al-Shabaab (The rise of ISIS and Boko Haram has hurt more than their surroundings and US credibility, but also their East African competitor: Al-Shabaab. This article investigates how Al-Shabaab is evolving, and why that might mean more attacks are in Kenya’s future.) nearly a year ago, Boko Haram’s territory is now being successfully reduced by foreign (mostly Chadian) troops pushing the group back into Nigeria. But also like Somalia’s Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram’s response does not bode well for those aiming to eradicate the group. Although the territory they control is reduced, this may only be increasing their will and interest in carrying out terrorist attacks aimed at mass civilian casualties. There are worrying similarities between the patterns in these two different situations and what happened in Fall 2015: ISIS territory is reduced, ISIS terrorist attacks, particularly outside of their immediate area, increase. Perhaps this is the trade-off: eradicate an extremist group’s ability to control territory, but instead of eradicating the group entirely, merely exchange one problem (territorial control) for another (terrorism).

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