Posts Tagged Boko Haram

Publications: Nigeria’s Private Army–A Perception Study Of PMSC’s In The War Against Boko Haram

As soon as I found this, I had to share. I have never seen anyone do an analysis like this about our industry and it needs to be put out there for consumption. These folks attempted to get actual public perception about PMSC’s fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. And even though they do not mention STTEP specifically, this is the company they are absolutely talking about.

It should be noted though that the study had none of the pertinent links to the reportage done on STTEP in Nigeria. Specifically the excellent articles by SOFREP and their interview with Eeben Barlow, the chairman of STTEP. After all, they are the only site that Eeben gave an interview too in regards to this contract. Eeben also gave plenty of information about what STTEP did on his blog, so it was odd to not see any links to those sources in the footnotes.

For whatever reason, they decided to keep the report free from those sources, and focus solely on doing their survey of Nigerians and their perceptions of PMSC’s in Nigeria. Specifically, PMSC’s and their role in countering Boko Haram.

Below I have posted their findings, and I was kind of shocked. Overall, there was very high support for using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents in telephone surveys supported groups like STTEP fighting Boko Haram. On social media it was 62 percent! That is incredible.

The reasons for supporting companies like STTEP are pretty simple. They could care less who they used to defeat Boko Haram, just as long as they were defeated. As for those that opposed using PMSC’s, they expressed that Nigeria should do this themselves.

Very cool and this will go into the archive here for anyone needing to come back to it. You can find a copy of this report at Remote Control’s website, and this is the pdf for it. I posted the findings below, but please check out the rest of the report to dig into how they conducted the survey or check out their website to learn more about the group. –Matt



Commissioned by the Remote Control project, the Nigeria Security Network carried out a perception study into the use of private military contractors. The study suggests that the majority of Nigerians support using private military contractors to fight Boko Haram. However, within the minority that oppose their use, some expressed opinions that could be vulnerable to manipulation by Boko Haram, due to their similar emphasis on western meddling in Nigerian affairs. The research suggests that opposition to PMSCs is strongest when they are engaged in combat roles, and that their potential for carrying out human rights abuses with impunity was of particular concern. The report concludes with a series of recommendations.

Level of support

Our study found that the majority of Nigerians are in favour of using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents to our telephone survey said they support using foreign mercenaries. 23 percent, meanwhile, said they oppose with only 3 per cent not having a view.
There was a significant difference in responses between men and women, with 80 percent of women saying they support using mercenaries compared to 69 percent of men. Conversely, 17 percent of women opposed using mercenaries while 23 percent of men opposed them. The reasons for this fall outside the re mit of this study, but may be an indication of heightened fear among female segments of the population following large numbers of abductions of women and girls by Boko Haram.
There was a little regional variation beyond the margin of error, with opposition significantly stronger than average in the South East and weaker in North Central. This is notable since the North Central region, including the city of Kano, is an area that has been significantly affected by Boko Haram’s violence. The higher than average support for mercenaries may be due to the region’s heightened experiences of violence. Conversely, the South East is one of the least affected regions. However, respondents in the most affected region – Nigeria’s North East – answered much closer to the average, making it difficult to draw conclusions about these regional variations.
On social media, of our sample 62 percent supported the use of private military contractors, with 36 percent opposing and 2 percent expressing a mixed opinion.
Reasons for supporting
Reasons for supporting private military contractors varied. The most popular reason was that people did not care what method was used to defeat Boko Haram, as long as they are defeated. 42 percent of support- ers argued this. Meanwhile, 27 percent suggested the contractors could offer better capabilities, while 20 percent said the Nigerian army is not effective enough to stop Boko Haram by itself. 6 percent said Nigeria can benefit from using foreign fighters since Boko Haram does the same.
These reasons were also reflected in our social media analysis. The most common reason was again that the method of defeating Boko Haram shouldn’t matter, with 47 per cent of those in favour arguing this.
Other common reasons included a feeling that Nigeria was being singled out for using private contractors when it is normal for other countries to do so, and a belief that contractors would be more effective.
Reasons for opposing
Of those telephone survey respondents opposed to using foreign mercenaries to fight Boko Haram, most (51 percent) expressed opposition to private military contractors on the grounds that Nigeria should have the capabilities to defeat Boko Haram without outside help. A further 27 percent of respondents cited reasons that could be interpreted as aligning with the insurgency’s messages or that could be manipulated by the insurgency to gain support. Within this group, 12 percent said foreign mercenaries are more likely than Nigerian troops to hurt civilians or commit human rights violations, 9 per cent said foreign mercenaries are trying to control or colonise Nigeria, and 6 per cent said they are trying to impose Western ideas on Nigeria.
16 percent gave “other” reasons for opposing contractors that were not anticipated, for example that the Nigerian army knows the terrain better.
Like with the telephone survey results, our social media analysis revealed that the largest number (46 percent) of tweeters who opposed private military contractors did so on the grounds that the Nigerian army should be able to defeat Boko Haram itself. Other, less common reasons included the perception that mercenaries were trying to advance a colonial agenda, that using them may back re, and that the Nigerian state should not re- cruit soldiers associated with the Apartheid era in South Africa.
To determine whether perceptions of private military contractors changed according to their role, we asked respondents their views of contractors if they were restricted to a training role versus a combat role.
This variable made a small but perceptible difference. If used only in a training role, 78 percent of respondents supported using the private contractors, whereas if used in a combat role 71 percent supported their use. Similarly, if used in a training role, 21 percent opposed their use, while 27 percent opposed their use if used in a combat role.
7 and 6 percent respectively may seem like a small amount. However, when considering the population of Borno state alone, which is likely to be around 4.5 million, 6 percent represents 270,000 people. Even if a tiny fraction of these were so angered by the use of private military contractors that they were tempted to support Boko Haram, this could result in thousands of new supporters.
This switcher group is especially important because those who switched were mostly the same people who were concerned about private military contractors imposing Western values or colonialism on Nigeria,
or abusing human rights, rather than simply opposing them because they think the Nigerian Army should not need such assistance. In total, there were 18 respondents in the former category. Of these 18, 16 switched their opinion if private contractors take only a training role. This suggests a restricted role for private military contractors could mitigate the perceptual backlash and reduce the risk of Boko Haram gaining support as a result. However, it must be noted that because the group expressing negative opinions for these reasons was so small, further research would be needed to ensure these ndings are not a statistical anomaly.

Read the rest of the report here.

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Al Qaeda: Boko Haram, Al Shabaab And AQIM Are Linking Up

“It’s one of the main depots of the Malian army,” a security source told AFP, adding that it had been built in case of “a long and difficult war.”A regional security source confirmed the seizure, saying the vast cache of weapons will “really boost AQIM’s striking power”, and adding: “It is really impressive what AQIM has found in the underground depot.”The source said the group “is today more armed than the combined armies of Mali and Burkina Faso”, Mali’s neighbour to the east.

This to me is fascinating and startling at the same time. Look at how fast these Islamist groups are spreading in Africa? They are taking advantage of the leadership vacuum caused by the Arab Spring, or making their moves in really poor and poorly governed countries. Where there is darkness on the continent, they are moving in to set up shop.

They are also capturing some pretty significant weapons and using this stuff to gain ground throughout the region. From the stuff in Libya that was ‘liberated’ during that fighting, to weapons depots in Mali that were taken by force.

And what gets me here is that I still haven’t heard what exactly Ansar Dine was able to get out of this weapon depot in Gao, Mali. Apparently they are now ‘more armed than the combined armies of Mali and Burkina Faso’, says the quote up top. So these non-state actors are now more armed than several countries combined? Yikes, and that is quite the accomplishment….It also makes you wonder about places like Syria, where that country is imploding and weapons depots–to include chemical and bio, could potentially be compromised.

Not only that, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in control of Egypt, whose to say that some of their weapons wouldn’t slip out into the world and find their way into Islamist’ hands? Or directly given to Islamists by a government that openly supports them. pfffftt.

We will see how it goes and somehow I don’t think this fire in the Middle East or Africa is going out any time soon. –Matt


Captured armored vehicle in Mali.


African extremist groups linking up: U.S. general
June 25, 2012
By Lauren French
Three of Africa’s largest extremist groups are sharing funds and swapping explosives in what could signal a dangerous escalation of security threats on the continent, the commander of the U.S. military’s Africa Command said on Monday.
General Carter Ham said there are indications that Boko Haram, al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – groups that he labeled as the continent’s most violent – are sharing money and explosive materials while training fighters together.
“Each of those three organizations is by itself a dangerous and worrisome threat,” Ham said at an African Center for Strategic Studies seminar for senior military and civilian officials from Africa, the United States and Europe.
“What really concerns me is the indications that the three organizations are seeking to coordinate and synchronize their efforts,” Ham said. “That is a real problem for us and for African security in general.”
The United States classified three of the alleged leaders of the Islamist sect Boko Haram, based in remote northeast Nigeria, as “foreign terrorist,” on June 20. But it declined to blacklist the entire organization to avoid elevating the group’s profile internationally. Police in Nigeria said members of the group seized a prison there Sunday and freed 40 inmates.

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Nigeria: Threats To Oil In Nigeria And The Role Of Private Security On Land And Sea

Given the region’s location on the Atlantic, allowing direct supplies to the United States without the dangers plaguing Middle Eastern exports, the region is expected to provide the United States with about one-quarter of its crude imports by 2015.
Most of the attacks involve theft, particularly large amounts of oil, rather than hijackings for ransom, the primary tactic used by the Somali pirates.
“Gulf of Guinea attacks have been targeted almost solely against oil- and diesel-carrying vessels,” Oxford Analytica noted in a recent report.
So any serious threat to supplies could have an impact in the United States.

Lately I have been focused on oil related stories. The reason for that is there are a lot of factors in play right now that could severely impact the world oil markets. So it pays to take a look at where we get oil, and the stability of this source.

Also, where there is a security issue and private interests at stake, then usually you will see private security involved in some capacity. From managing a guard force, to security assessments, to protecting assets and individuals, private security is very much involved. Security contractors are extremely important to the world wide effort of securing these oil related efforts, and the world is not getting any safer.

The focus here is on oil imports to the US, and there are a few imports out there that deserve some attention. I focus on the US because I am citizen there, but it is also important to follow what impacts the US because often times news there impacts the rest of the world. For the record, here are our top import sources.

Canada (25%)
Saudi Arabia (12%)
Nigeria (11%)
Venezuela (10%)
Mexico (9%)

Looking at this list, you can see exactly what I am talking about. Saudi Arabia is located in a region that is certainly threatened by the aspect of war and revolution (Iran or Arab Spring comes to mind). We depend on Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus to protect this oil production. Just imagine if Iran bombed refineries there for some kind of retaliatory attack against the west, if Israel bombs Iran? Other import sources would all of sudden become very important.

Or look at Venezuela where the leader there actively promotes his hatred of all things US, and goes out of his way to make partnerships with countries like Iran, just to thumb their nose at the US. Amazing that we are still doing business with this country. But they have oil.

Then look at Mexico with the drug war and constant attacks on their nationalized oil company called Pemex? What would happen if cartels started attacking oil rigs or Pemex as a retaliation against the US drug war effort? Or terrorists targeted these assets as a way of hurting the US?

Luckily imports from Canada are stable and secure, but that is about it. Now let’s put this into perspective. Imagine if any one of these top importers had their oil infrastructure attacked and disrupted by a nation or a group? The shock wave to the world oil markets would be severe, and the pain would definitely be felt economically in the US. That is why I follow this stuff. In my view, the more we can shore up energy independence, the better. But let’s keep this focused on the reality that we have, and not the one we wished we had.

So the importer that I want to focus on today is Nigeria. There are a few things to look at here for system disruptions. The first is piracy. Off the western coast of Africa, things are now getting bad enough to raise some alarms. Lloyds Market Association puts the waterways near Nigeria in the same risk category as Somalia’s.

Lloyd’s Market Association, a London umbrella for a group of insurers, listed Nigeria, Benin and nearby waters in the same risk category as lawless Somalia. That could signal higher insurance rates for shipping, including oil traffic, off West Africa.

Both the coastal region and the deltas/waterways are all hunting grounds of pirates seeking to capture oil tankers or hostages, and there is an upward trend for this activity.

Below, I posted a story that talked about a private public partnership that Nigeria is taking on in order to deal with this issue. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has recently contracted with a company called Global West Vessels Specialist Nigeria Limited. Here is the basics of this deal, which is valued at  $103 million.

“What the government has done is simply address issues of maintenance bureaucracy that had crippled the patrol arm of NIMASA. By the partnership agreement NIMASA has asked a private firm to supply patrol boats, surveillance equipment and also maintain them. NIMASA and the NAVY will use these facilities to protect the nation’s maritime domain”, he explained.

 I don’t know anything about this company or public private partnership. So I couldn’t even say if this group is an honest partner in the deal, or if it will be effective. We will see….

The second thing to look at are these militant groups who target the oil as part of their strategy. Groups like MEND did a number on oil infrastructure there. Shell has also invested much into security in order to protect their investments and operations there, and from the sounds of it, MEND is wanting to get back into the game of system disruptions.

You also have the Islamist extremist angle. Boko Haram comes to mind as just such a group that could increase their systems disruption attacks as a strategy to coincide with the increased demand for oil throughout the world. Meaning if the west depends upon the oil coming from Nigeria, then what better way to hurt the west and Nigerian government by attacking the oil. This is not a new idea and I discussed how Al Shabab is targeting western oil interests in Somalia as another example of this kind of thing. (notice that private security is a necessity to counter the threat in both countries)

Finally, I picked up on this little part of an article below and this is interesting to me. Liberia and Sierra Leone could turn into another source of oil. Check it out.

U.S. company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and oil companies have reported new discoveries off Liberia and Sierra Leone in recent weeks, heightening expectations that the war-scarred region is heading for a major bonanza.

So with that said, will we see Royal Dutch Shell and similar companies respond with setting up security that looks more like a private military force? Will we see a drive to promote armed guards on all boats operating off the west coast of Africa?  Who knows and it is something to watch as events unfold in this region of the world. –Matt



Nigerian Delta Unrest Cuts Oil Output by 1 Million Barrels
By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo
Mar 5, 2012
Oil production in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest producer, is down by about 1 million barrels a day because of violence and theft in the Niger River delta, according to the state oil company.
Output is yet to be restored at 40 onshore oil fields mostly operated by Hague-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corp. (CVX) and smaller producers more than two years after a government amnesty led to the disarming of thousands of militants and a decline in attacks on oil companies, according to data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.
The “underlying tensions that mark the region were decades in the making and have yet to be resolved,” Antony Goldman, head of PM Consulting, a London-based risk advisory specializing in West Africa, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “The concern among oil companies is that there is a risk of a slide back to violence if stakeholders do not seize the opportunity presented by the current relative calm to begin to build a better and fairer future for the Niger delta.”

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