The embattled Islamic State via one of its official magazines, Al-Naba, says it is not prepared to stop its targeted killing of humanitarian workers providing support to ravaged communities in the Northeast and accuses them of being impartial in their operations.
The terror group stated this in an editorial published in the 247th issue of its Al-Naba Magazine on Thursday, August 13. Recent developments in Lake Chad indicates that ISWAP, which broke away from Boko Haram in 2016 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State is towing the same line.
After failed negotiations with the government, it had released a video in July showing its execution of five aid workers from both local and international organisations. Between 2018 and 2019, 36 humanitarian workers were similarly killed by extremist groups, according to the United Nations (UN).
Reacting to the condemnation of those killings from various quarters, ISWAP said it was not true that humanitarian workers “do not participate in military actions” and only directed their efforts to serve displaced people.
“Many of those organisations fight Muslims in many ways and provide support to the armies and parties fighting them, so they are partners in the fighting, even if their workers do not carry weapons or participate in the battles,” it said.
“It is no longer a secret that working in these organisations is one of the most important covers with which Crusader spies working in Muslim countries conceal the truth of their activities, work and movements.
“And on their footsteps, the intelligence of the apostate rulers walk, by using the same method of espionage and recruitment using these organisations and their cover that people like because they show goodness to people and concern for their health, food and housing.”
It said humanitarian organisations did not only try to bring people closer to polytheism, but they also spread secularism, democracy, atheism, and socialism, which is called “blasphemous beliefs”. It accused them of whitewashing and serving the interests of foreign, tyrant governments “as a means of enticement and intimidation to attract loyalty to them”.
The terror group said it had in the past granted protection to some non-governmental organisations claiming to help the vulnerable until it realised their employees were carrying out “espionage missions for the benefit of the apostate army intelligence.”
“Many of the organizations today run mass detention camps of people in the ‘Borno’ region, and some of them work to change their religion or corrupt their morals,” it claimed in a possible reference to IDP camps.
ISWAP emphasised its disbelief in the authority of the United Nations and international humanitarian laws and added that it would not protect “unbelievers” except those it had a contract with. Muslims are also not safe and should desist from working with humanitarian organisations, it said.
According to the terror group, “There is no protection for the blood of an apostate who falsely belongs to Islam. Wherever they are found, they are taken and killed, and this includes all people, those who work in those organizations and others, alike.”
Experts fear that the federal government’s recent insistence on not paying ransom for the release of victims of abduction may have also contributed to increased hostility from the jihadists.
John Campbell, a Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in July that ISWAP is notorious for kidnapping people for ransom and then murdering them if it does not get satisfactory payment for their freedom.
“Ransom payments appear to be an important source of funding for terrorist organisations in West Africa,” he said.
“Paying the ransom is illegal in Nigeria. While the United States government does not pay, other governments do, though they usually deny it. Kidnapping for ransom has become a widespread criminal activity in Nigeria, with many private individuals and entities paying.”
In its tribute to aid works on the front lines on Wednesday in commemoration of the World Humanitarian Day, condemned attacks on humanitarians and said, in 2019 alone, 483 were attacked, 125 killed, 234 wounded, and 124 kidnapped in various countries.
“To humanitarian workers everywhere doing important, courageous work on the front lines we say Thank You,” said Mark Lowcock, UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“You are saving lives every day, and as new challenges and crises are piling on to existing ones, your perseverance is an inspiration. Your protection is also paramount to making sure we can deliver to people most in need. The best way to pay tribute to humanitarian workers is by funding their work and ensuring their safety.”