Nigeria (MNN) — Conditions in Nigeria worsen as terrorists’ activity continues. U.S. officials recently warned Nigeria’s government of Islamic State and al Qaeda infiltration. Africa’s most-populated nation ranks third on the Global Terrorism Index; only Iraq and Afghanistan suffer more terrorist attacks.
“Every day, I get tragic stories of families who’ve lost their husband, pastors who’ve been killed; there’s a very real human effect.”
Last month, the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) moved from military to human targets. As described here, jihadists executed five aid workers and sent a chilling threat to Christians. Violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa have spiked 31-percent since last year, USCIRF reports.
A decade of turmoil
Over the past decade, Nigeria has gradually become a hotbed for terrorist activity. Boko Haram began targeting Christians in July 2009; ten years later, the danger tripled. In July 2019, believers faced threats from three Islamic terror groups: Boko Haram, ISWAP, and Fulani herdsmen. Read our full coverage here.
At the height of ISIS’s insurgency in the Middle East, Boko Haram became Islamic State affiliates in West Africa.
“When the Islamic State was in control, Boko Haram was happy to say, ‘look, we have the same ideals of imposing Sharia law; we would be happy to make you look more powerful by being a node in your network. In return, we’d like some bombing expertise; maybe send your people down here [and] some cash to help buy weapons,” Curry says.
“Those sorts of arrangements have been happening. We’ve heard that on the ground. Many years ago, I was feeding this information back to the State Department and others.”
Tides eventually turned; Boko Haram and the Islamic State went their separate ways as ISIS lost power. Weak government rule in Nigeria failed to stop ISWAP from resurfacing a few years ago.
“This has been a very ineffectual government, not just one administration, but over the last few,” Curry says.
“They see [attacks as] ‘little problems,’ but that’s the same thing I heard in northern Iraq right before ISIS took over. Unfortunately, the government would overlook the problem until it gets so bad that it causes global chaos.”
How to help Nigeria
Believers may not have much influence on government action, but we know the God who controls world events.
Ask Him to intercede on behalf of His followers in Nigeria. Pray the Nigerian Church will be able to withstand pressure and have the grace to respond to their challenges in a way that glorifies Christ.
“There are so many things going on right now; I understand that, but our calling to pray for and to advocate for our brothers and sisters in faith is important,” Curry says.
“Pray for these people, their protection, and that the Gospel is heard in the midst of this.”
Header image courtesy of Open Doors USA.