Boko Haram reportedly is working to enlist traditional and religious leaders in northern Cameroon to recruit new members amid continued military pressure on both sides of the border.
A Muslim religious leader, Abdouraman Ousman says, members of the militant group kidnapped him from his home in Kerawa on the border with Nigeria last year.
The militants told him that he could go home if he would recruit for them, said Ousman. He refused, but was freed in February during a raid by soldiers.
Imams and traditional rulers are being manipulated by Boko Haram fighters to convince naive, young people to join the terrorist group, Ousman says, adding that Boko Haram targets traditional rulers too — not only for ransoms, but to get them to help recruit members.
Some imams reportedly return to Cameroon and lie to young people, either by telling them they will earn $500 per month if they join Boko Haram, or by trying to trick youths into thinking they are joining military.
This week, the Islamic Council of Traditional Rulers and Muslim dignitaries invited Ousman and about 200 other community leaders from the north to Yaounde, to talk about how to counter Boko Haram’s influence.
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According to Inoussa Assabe of the Islamic council, the government needs the help of local leaders. “They have to go towards the traditional rulers. Government has to come in and send security people who are not in uniform just to get investigations and know exactly what is going on,” said Assabe.
At a meeting held held on Monday, the council said, several religious and traditional leaders in the north have been arrested on suspicion of working for Boko Haram.
The Government declared that the suspects are cooperating with authorities and will face charges in the court, but was mum about the number of people got detained. (VOA)