NBC News quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on the deadly violence in Maiduguri, Nigeria and what significance the city holds for Boko Haram:
“The city is certainly symbolic,” said Dr. J. Peter Pham at the Washington, D.C., think tank The Atlantic Council. “In the narrative of Boko Haram that is where the martyrdom of hundreds of its fighters took place.”
Both the former ambassador Campbell and the Atlantic Council’s Pham said the militants almost certainly do not have the manpower to seize administrative control of a city Maiduguri’s size. But continued raids may weaken state forces sufficiently to render the city ungovernable by anyone else, they said, leaving it in the de facto control of the militants.
“Even if they are unsuccessful, they underscore the weakness of the Nigerian government,” Pham added. “Storming through the town, even if they did not take it, would be a victory for Boko Haram. It would be a bloodbath, but it may be something they attempt.”