Hello supporters, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a project you previously heard about here. As efforts to degrade the Islamic State in West Africa – more commonly known as Boko Haram – throughout the Lake Chad Basin bear fruit, the problem of safely and accurately communicating information to would-be defectors has become a serious and pressing issue. The abuse and violence that characterizes Boko Haram is not only directed at the civilian population, but also at members of the group who disobey orders or are suspected of disloyalty. For low-level fighters and supporters, many of whom were forced to join, starvation and beatings are commonplace, as is the desire to leave the group and return to their families. However, these potential defectors lack information about how to safely leave the group and take part in government-sponsored amnesty programs. Providing information to Boko Haram members about ongoing amnesty programs and instructions on how to safely defect will help take fighters off the battlefield without further violence and bloodshed and improve the willingness of communities to bring them back into the fold, significantly degrading the group and possibly putting the nail in the coffin of this terrorist organization. With the help of Spirit of America and deployed US military information support operation soldiers, the Nigerien military’s Directorate of Influence is taking advantage of this opportunity to effectively remove fighters from the area and reduce the ability of Boko Haram leadership to continue their nefarious activities – all without the risk of loss of life from armed conflict. With your support, Spirit of America was able to print leaflets containing a simple message encouraging Boko to come out of the bush: reducing risk for the Nigerien military, saving lives, and bringing families back together. The healing process will not be easy, but as the capability of Boko Haram to spread terror and instability is diminished, returning to normalcy and making real progress and opportunity becomes achievable. Until next time, Nick
Nick completed eight years of active military service, serving as a medical officer and later as a Civil Affairs officer, with deployment experience in the Middle East as well as multiple West African countries and Europe. While deployed, Nick did extensive work alongside our Nigerien and Senegalese partners to address food insecurities, livestock health concerns, and to support women’s empowerment initiatives.