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Image Credit: Abbakar Affan

Boots on the Ground

Abbakar Affan, 28, is part of a Mobile Strike Team in Nigeria that is at war with ISIS.

Since 2017, his day job has been hunting terrorists who pledged their allegiance to the jihadist group. Abbakar talked with Strike Source about that fight and what he’s seen.

He estimates that there are more than 20,000 ISIS terrorists in Nigeria.

With staggering losses in Iraq and Syria, we asked Abbakar how ISIS is able to retain that much influence.

Abbakar said, “Many of their recruits are Nigerians from neighboring countries that speak Kanuri.” Outside Nigeria, Kanuri is spoken in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. “They twist the words of the Koran and take advantage of the lack of education. By using a faith as a weapon, they tell them that the military is the enemy because they don’t follow their version of Islam, and that we are pagans.”

Image Credit: Abbakar Affan

The strategy has proved successful for ISIS, according to Abbakar. “When we free villages, many people are afraid to cooperate with us. ISIS has spies in villages that it pays for information. If they find out someone helped the military, they will burn their crops and homes.”

Aside from suicide missions, ISIS in Nigeria uses AKs, RPGs, and anti-aircraft weapons to fight its war.

Abbakar said that each time he liberated a village from ISIS control, he met at least one person who lost a son to ISIS. “We always found someone that talked about how their son had been killed.

He briefly discussed the tactics of ISIS over the last five years. “We have seen them improve. They are well-trained, and we don’t know what country has provided this training, but it is military training.”

Image Credit: Abbakar Affan

Abbakar says 20,000 ISIS terrorists have surrendered to Nigerian forces overall.

He and his team received training from the United Kingdom’s Special Air Service (SAS).

Editors note: This is an introduction to a series of articles that will cover the fight against ISIS in Nigeria.