Terrorism and Non-State Actors

On May 5th, the group held a conference on Terrorism and non-state actors. We had the honour of receiving Jabeur Fathally, professor of International law at the University of Ottawa, who talked about ISIS, and John Adeyefa, President of the Nigerian-Canadian Association of Ottawa, who talked about Boko Haram.

A Yezidi delegation was also present at the event and were able to react to the speakers’ presentations as well as voice their concerns.

Summary of Presentations: Terrorism and Non-State Actors event:

Jabeur Fathally, Professor at the University of Ottawa

Doctrine and ideological foundation of the Islamic State

  • Islam represents the house of peace and the rest are non-believers and thus leads to warlike Jihad
  • The management of brutality presents the stages to be followed for the Islamic State in order to establish the caliphate: – Indiscriminate attacks – Brutalities in order to bind civilians to the group due to fear – Re-establishment of the order by the installation of the caliphate
  • The Islamic State thinks they have reached all these stages since the attacks of 2004

Factors of the emergence of the Islamic State

  • The dictatorships in place in Arab countries lead to fanaticism due to the absence of space of expression, corruption and bad economic management
  • Western kindness towards these regimes
  • Manipulation of religious speech by the leaders
  • The war in Iraq and the Libyan situation
  • The financial manna available to the group and its organization

Means to fight the Islamic State

  • Use international law, bilateral agreements and the convention of 1999 on the financing of terrorist groups
  • Diplomatic means
  • Open channels of discussion with other states of the region like Iran
  • Military action

John Adeyefa, President of the Nigerian-Canadian Association of Ottawa

Background on Boko Haram

  • Before 2009: Boko Haram consisted of political thugs used to intimidate and win elections
  • Leader of the group was Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf, who became increasingly powerful
  • Mohammed Yusuf and Boko Haram preached their own Islamic Doctrine
  • Boko Haram Means Western Education is Forbidden. The full implied meaning of the group’s title is Educated people become Elite and Oppressor of the Poor Uneducated People, Which Must be Banned
  • Connections:

–          Sudan: Muslim Brotherhood

–          Syria & Iraq: ISIS

–          Recruiting from Lake Chad Basin, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and other Islamic states.


Boko Haram operates with amazing, awe-inspiring precision, devastating effect, puzzling impunity and unparalleled, blood-curding brutality and savagery

  • July 2009:  Nigerian military quelled uprising, 700 Boko Haram dead and Mohammed Yusuf was captured and shot
  • Boko Haram went underground, but re-emerged after Gaddafi’s regime in Libya collapsed, leading to the proliferation of Libyan weapons into sub-Saharan Africa.
  • This in turn triggered rebellions in Mali, CAR, Chad, Niger, Nigeria & Cameroon
  • 2011: Boko Haram warns Muslims to avoid Christian public buildings
  • Boko Haram attacks the United Nations in Abuja, killing 23 people and injuring 75.
  • April 14, 2014 – Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 teenage girls from a school in Chibok, Borno State. Nigeria

Current Situation

  • The decomposed corpses of over 400 men, women and children were recently found in shallow mass graves on the streets of Damasak
  • Boko Haram’s current leader Abubakar Shekau has pledgesd allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, expanding ISIS (in theory, but not in practice) to West Africa.
  • Nigerian troops rescue about 700 women and girls in the Sambisa Forest during a military operation centered around destroying Boko Haram camps and rescuing civilians

Recommendations for Canadian government

  1. Support Nigeria’s incoming government;
  2. Partner with the new Nigerian government, building capacity in order to challenge the insurgency;
  3. Re-work the Anti-Terror Bill (Bill C-51) in order to also deal with insurgency issues outside of Canada;
  4. Assist Nigeria’s incoming government on poverty alleviation programs, and in rebuilding destroyed villages as well as resettling widows and orphans.