(New York, N.Y.) — The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the Nigeria-based chapter of ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the July 6 attack on a maximum-security prison in Abuja. The jailbreak, the first one conducted by ISWAP in the capital of the country, led to the escape of 443 inmates, of which 64 are suspected of being members of terror groups such as ISWAP, Boko Haram, and the al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru. Since the attack, Nigerian security forces have been able to recapture 27 of the escapees. However, given that convicted terrorists are on the run, there is concern among authorities of imminent attacks.
To read the Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s resource Nigeria: Extremism and Terrorism, please click here.
According to media sources, the militants detonated “very high-grade explosives” killing a security officer and injuring three others. Shuaib Belgore, permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry, claimed the attackers specifically sought to release co-conspirators, but the operation led to the escape of almost 900 inmates. However, more than half have returned to the prison while the others remain at large. The raid occurred a month after ISWAP gunmen detonated explosives and opened fire on a Catholic church in Ondo State, southwestern Nigeria on June 5. The explosion killed at least 40 and injured 87 others.
“Although prison breaks are a fairly regular occurrence in the country, with this prison attack, ISWAP continues to showcase its strength in the region. Being able to organize such a complex operation in the country’s capital, away from ISWAP’s core area of operations and against one of the country’s most secure facilities is an example of the growing capabilities of this terror group,” said CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, formerly the Coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh), al-Qaeda, and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team. “After integrating most of Boko Haram into their forces by essentially destroying a competing faction within the group, ISIS is well on the way to develop into the dominate terrorist force in West Africa.”
Newly announced CEP Advisory Board Member and also formerly the Coordinator of the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh), al-Qaeda, and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team Ambassador Edmund Fitton-Brown added, “ISIS remains a large and very capable presence in West Africa, which is evident by their extensive operational activity in the region. Jailbreaks have become a global trademark of the group, occurring in many locations at the explicit urging of ISIS leadership. Nigeria and the surrounding areas should remain vigilant as the rest of the inmates are captured.”
To read CEP’s resource ISIS, please click here.
To read CEP’s resource Boko Haram, please click here.