Unmasking the spatio-temporal undertones of Boko Haram

Our 1st year students continue with their assessment blog pieces; here is this week’s winning blog post written by Group 4 students, Benjamin Stacey (editor), Emily Kent, Mollie Bonnamy, Holly Conley, Mollie Rowden, Bartholomew Hill, Callum Pickersgill:

Unmasking the spatio-temporal undertones of Boko Haram – a lecture by Dr Ade Ojo

Dr Ade Ojo’s Think Tank seminar talked about a new age of terrorism, where terror organisations have evolved to work as small cell-based networks instead of conventional groups with distinct objectives. By focusing on Boko Haram in West Africa and with the use of collected data of Nigeria, Dr Ojo talked about unmasking this insurgency.

Boko Haram is one of the most deadly terrorist organisations across the globe. In 2014, the organisation grabbed media attention with the kidnapping of 279 school girls from the town of Chibok, the location of many of these girls is still unknown today. Nigerian authorities lack the funding, training and resources to adequately track terrorist movement and cope with the aftermath. The threat to Nigeria cannot be resolved until better methods and planning techniques are installed to help predict future attacks.

A spatial aspect study was carried out between 2010 and 2015. In this time 1664 unique terrorist attacks were recorded. Information is inputted into a database which calculates the frequency and likely location of attacks. The database shows that the terror attacks in this period were concentrated in the Northern part of the country, near Lake Chad.

Concentration curves can be mapped using the data as Dr Ojo shows with the curve being further away giving an indication of the severity of these attacks. Furthermore, from this data you can identify specific neighbourhoods that are under higher threat. Examples being Urban Nodes and Diluted Societies. However, this data of areas under risk is not fool-proof as the principal areas under attack are believed to be related to Islamic ideology and furthermore the Kanem-Bornu empire.

To conclude, we can understand the spatio-temporal behaviours of such terror groups by observing and analysing their previous activity. However, this topic is extremely complex and cannot be reduced to something as simple as a formula to prevent further attacks, but it can provide an extra tool in the fight against terror.