Nigerian security forces have busted an ISIS operation cell, arresting five recruits on their way to Morocco, Libya and other parts of Africa having an Islamic State presence.
Intelligence officials within Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) arrested the five suspected ISIS members in the northwestern Kano State Thursday.
The individuals were allegedly responsible for creating ISIS sleeper cells and had plans to set up a jihadi training camp in Kano, according to DSS State Director Abdullah Chiranchi.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials have rejected reports of connections between Nigerian terror group Boko Haram and ISIS, dismissing Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS last year as a branding exercise aimed at increasing recruitment operations, Reuters reported.
U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged, however, the cooperation between Boko Haram and ISIS fighters in Libya.
“There is no difference between ISIS and Boko Haram. Boko Haram is ISIS,” African-based Jasmine Opperman, the Terror Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) director of African operations told The Foreign Desk.
“A distinction between Boko Haram, or the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA) and ISIS indicates a complete lack of understanding on the implications of an official pledge of allegiance by a group to the Islamic State,” Opperman said.
“The cell that has reportedly been exposed is thus an ISWA cell,” she added.
The collaboration between the two groups appears beyond the battlefield as Boko Haram videos are appearing on the Islamic State’s Amaq, a 24-hour ‘news wire’ reporting ISIS news, The Foreign Desk has observed.
This past weekend, Boko Haram killed approximately 30 soldiers in Niger, prompting 50,000 people to flee the town of Bosso in southeastern Niger, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.