February 9, 2016 | Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon

It often seems that nothing is too heinous for a terrorist group – this includes refugee camps and funerals.

TODAY IN TERRORISM — It is often said that there is no honour among thieves (i.e. criminals). What this means is that criminals are by definition untrustworthy. Their past activities, which we call ‘illegal’, suggest that any future faith put in them is misguided. I suppose another phrase that could apply here is ‘ a leopard (or criminal) does not change its spots’.

I want to go one further here and suggest that a certain brand of criminal behaviour – terrorism – exhibits no honour in that the people targeted are often beyond what we would consider acceptable. We have all more or less established that in the human phenomenon we call ‘war’ there are some individuals who are ‘off limits’. Women and children are among those deemed untouchable: true, these are not always safe but when they are killed or wounded in warfare the outcry is always large.

Terrorists have no compunction in killing anyone they can. This is seen in two ways. Terrorist attacks are often random in that they affect anyone who happens to be in the same place as the attacker(s)/devices deployed. Think of a car bomb along a busy street: do the terrorists care who happens to be in the vicinity when it goes off? No, they do not as a rule.

A typical IDP camp in Nigeria
2016 Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon

Terrorists will also deliberately strike at the groups just cited. Islamic State (ISIS), for example, went out of its way to rape Yazidi women and girls in its pseudo-Caliphate. As self-styled ‘exemplary’ Muslims these acts were contrary to the very ‘rules’ of jihad they claimed to be following (in normative Islam, there is an prohibition on killing children, women and the elderly – I would place sexual assault in this as well).

On this day in 2016 there were two attacks by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram that took place in areas where anyone with a sense of decency would see as verboten. Two suicide bombers struck a funeral in northern Cameroon (the group has carried out many cross-border attacks in Cameroon) killing six and wounding 30. Two female suicide bombers entered an internally-displaced persons (IDP) camp in northeastern Nigeria and detonated their loads, killing 60 and wounding 78. Given that women and children usually make up the majority of those who find themselves at an IDP I assume that they made up the majority of the victims as well.

Making a deliberate decision to hit a funeral or a camp of refugees may be as low as a human can go. That terrorists do this with regularity says a lot, doesn’t it?

February 8, 2004 and 2016 | Attacks against police in Iraq

Phil Gurski
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