Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Intelligence and Security Studies

First Advisor

Mark Chen

Second Advisor

Wesley Yates

Third Advisor

Benjamin Jones


The emergence of Boko Haram in West Africa has resulted in severe disruption of the Lake Chad region and the displacement of millions. In 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS, signaling a shift in the organization’s objectives and adopting a new strategy for influence over its region. Subsequent leadership changes led to the group’s splintering into multiple factions. Infighting between and within factions has raised new questions imperative to understanding the group’s outlook. This paper sought to examine the impact that deaths of ISIS and ISWAP leaders have on the outlook of Boko Haram and its factions (JAS, Ansaru, ISWAP) and to anticipate the group’s potential next actions and aggressions. Data consisting of open source intelligence was compiled and analyzed. Based on this analysis, the report establishes that the Islamic State West Africa Province faction presents the greatest threat to Nigeria, due to its ability to gain popular support from civilians in the region. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death provides a path for the possible re-emergence of al-Qaeda in Nigeria. It has also led to a hardline turn of events within ISWAP that will likely fuel an uptick in soft and hard target attacks across West Africa. By elucidating the driving factors behind the threat of increased insurgency, the analysis provided can be used as a roadmap to anticipate and deter Boko Haram’s hand in West African affairs.



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