The end of last week produced yet another head-against-table moment in the war on terrorism. Boko Haram, the Islamist group spreading mayhem across Nigeria, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the terrorist group spreading mayhem across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
If these reports hold up and Boko Haram proves to be an amenable collaborator, ISIS will expand its presence from western Syria through Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and into northeastern Africa.
They’ll meet resistance, of course. Chad, Benin, Cameroon, and Niger have all teamed up with Nigeria to repel the Boko Haram threat. Recently their coalition secured two towns under jihadist control and killed 200 enemy fighters in the process. There’s also hope on the Mesopotamian front, where the Iraqi army and Shiite militias are pushing into ISIS-controlled Tikrit.
But the point is that this wasn’t supposed to happen. When George W. Bush officially declared the war on terrorism on September 20, 2001, he said: “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” That was always too lofty, but it was a lofty time.