Parallel Government: After collecting taxes insurgents now openly recruit fighters in Borno

In a bid to expand their ranks and influence, militants from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a faction formerly known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, have been holding public da‘wāt sessions in several villages in Borno State. Da‘wāt, an Islamic term for the act of inviting people to embrace Islam, is being used by ISWAP to recruit new members and promote their vision of an Islamic caliphate.


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Photos released by ISWAP depict the group engaging openly with residents near Lake Chad. These meetings come in the wake of claims by the Nigerian military that they have made significant gains against ISWAP, reclaiming large swathes of territory previously under insurgent control.

During these sessions, ISWAP members urged villagers to join their ranks, promising better governance, enhanced security, and improved basic amenities in a future Islamic state. In a strategic move to gain local support, the group distributed welfare packages containing essentials such as rice, beans, millet, maize, sugar, spaghetti, and cash.

This recruitment drive underscores ISWAP’s persistent efforts to expand despite breaking away from the Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram faction in 2016. A 2019 report by the International Crisis Group highlighted ISWAP’s effective recruitment strategies, noting significant growth in their numbers, particularly among the ethnic Buduma in lacustrine communities who primarily rely on fishing.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has also emphasized the need to understand ISWAP’s recruitment patterns and operational methods to address their growing influence. ISS senior researcher Remadji Hoinathy stressed the importance of addressing the ideological aspects of the crisis, recognizing that the group’s ability to recruit is a major factor in their expansion.

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