In the past few months, Bukarti stated, security intelligence has been gathered showing that ISWAP has successfully been able to improve their access to the internet.
A Senior Fellow, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Bulama Bukarti, has raised the alarm over the acquisition of high-speed Internet access by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) and its drone experiments for intelligence-gathering and possible combat.
Bukarti made the disturbing revelations during a live appearance on the Friday edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“There are very worrying developments in Africa, including in the Lake Chad region, where we have the IS affiliate, ISWAP — that is, Islamic State’s West Africa Province — upping its capacity,” he said.
“And that’s because it is getting money, it is getting training, it is getting guidance from ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Part of the most worrying developments we have seen, as far as the use of the Internet or the use of technology is concerned, are two.”
In the past few months, Bukarti stated, security intelligence has been gathered showing that ISWAP has successfully been able to improve their access to the Internet.
“Before now, when ISWAP would want to use the Internet to post communication or to download something, they would need to go to cities like Maiduguri and they would struggle for hours to get access to the Internet,” he said.
“But from the last few months, we started getting evidence showing that ISWAP has now started to get access to Thuraya, that is, satellite Internet services were provided by Thuraya.
“They are buying them from Lagos and then from Chad, and therefore, they now have high-speed Internet connectivity in the remote areas of the Lake Chad region. They are using it to communicate; they are using it to coordinate attacks.”
The security expert disclosed that the insurgents had a vehicle with Thuraya Internet hardware mounted used while carrying out attacks to communicate with terrorists in other locations, including Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ISIS operatives across the world.
“The second worrying development has to do with ISWAP’s use of drones,” Bukarti revealed. “ISWAP started using drones like five years ago.
“We saw in the videos, their fighters trying to fly the small commercial drones and they were laughing; they were shocked at how it was flying, and then they started using it for their propaganda.”
According to the security expert, the insurgents would take drone footage of their attacks as well as drone photos of their fighters and use them for their propaganda, in addition to gathering intelligence on the military.
“In one attack, for example, before they attacked, they took a drone photo of a military base they were going to attack and then they attacked when they saw what was inside,” he said.
Bukarti further stated that the third phase of the ongoing development had to do with ISWAP trialling arming delivery drones.
“They have started to experiment how to put explosives on those drones and if they’ve succeeded in doing that, then we would start to see attacks unfortunately from the air, which would not require any fighters or suicide bombers and that would be deadly and would prolong the crisis in the Lake Chad region,” he explained.
Describing the development as “a very worrying development,” the security expert highlighted the need for the Federal Government to redouble its efforts to investigate where ISWAP was getting the Internet and drones from, as well as ensuring that the supply routes are blocked.