News / Africa

Nigeria Pursuing Link Between Al-Qaida, Boko Haram

Suspected members of Boko Haram sect enter the federal High court where they are accused of plotting bombings that killed 25 people, Abuja, September 23, 2011.
Suspected members of Boko Haram sect enter the federal High court where they are accused of plotting bombings that killed 25 people, Abuja, September 23, 2011.

Nigeria's government says Islamic militants in northern states are linked to al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in the Sahel and in Somalia.

Definitively proving that link has brought more international attention to Nigerian terrorism, but may be overshadowing its domestic causes.

Nigeria's State Security Service says terrorists from the Boko Haram sect are linked to Somalia's al-Shabab militia, and the group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across the Sahel from Mauritania to Niger.

Boko Haram claims responsibility for the bombing of U.N. headquarters in the Nigerian capital, as well a series of assassinations and ambushes across northern states as part of what it says is a campaign for an independent, Sharia-led nation.

Linking Boko Haram to al-Qaida has made Nigerian terrorism a bigger international issue. Britain is boosting intelligence sharing and technological support. The United States is helping track Boko Haram funding through a program established after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Boko Haram's support

Shehu Sani heads Nigeria's Civil Rights Congress and has written extensively about Boko Haram. He is not convinced of the group's direct links with al-Qaida, but said it is clear there is significant outside support.

“What we still can not deny here in this country is the links between sects in Nigeria and their benefactors from other parts of the world,” said Sani.

Sani said there are many foreign-backed Islamic sects in northern Nigeria that are far larger than Boko Haram. But because they operate peacefully, they attract little outside attention. Sani said Nigeria must focus more on Boko Haram recruiting students who study abroad.

“There is no agency of government in Nigeria today that has data of young people from northern Nigeria that are in Afghanistan, that are in Yemen, that are in Pakistan, that are in countries in the Middle East. But every month, every quarter, you have hundreds of young people in northern Nigeria given scholarships to study in those countries. And there is no tracking methods. There is no follow-up. There is no vetting.  And there is virtually no interest,” said Sani.

Boko Haram's methods

Nigerian defense and counter-terrorism analyst Husaini Monguno doubts al-Qaida's direct support for Boko Haram because their methods have little in common. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, for example, principally kidnaps foreigners for ransom, while Boko Haram works within local communities to bomb crowded places.

“If you look at the pattern of al-Qaida operation, it is quite different from Boko Haram. If you happen to be a Maiduguri man or a Borno State [man], all the Boko Haram members are known," said Monguno. "They are not hidden. And they try to push for their own agenda openly. They are not afraid of anybody. But al-Qaida things are secretive. Even the intelligence community in the whole world are having difficulties in trying to see who are behind those types of operations.”

University of Abuja sociology professor Abubakar Umar Kari said the government's linking of Boko Haram to al-Qaida risks ignoring the underlying causes of the violence, which he said include poverty and injustice. It may also overlook other domestic contributors to the violence, as Kari said opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan may be using the cover of Boko Haram to mask their own political attacks.

“The more you look at it, the less you understand. But what is very, very clear is that the Boko Haram phenomenon has become a metaphor. They have become a scapegoat for whatever attack,” said Kari.

Boko Haram's violence

Monguno said political involvement with Boko Haram is most evident in how the group changed after Nigeria's 2003 election.

“What I believe the intelligence agencies should do is to try to see who are Boko Haram prior to 2003 election and after 2003 election. Boko Haram was nothing before 1999. I do believe that there are politicians who are using this group to try to perpetrate danger within the country,” said Monguno.

Sani said Boko Haram accelerated its campaign of violence following the death of its leader Mohammed Yusuf in police custody in 2009. Police said Yusuf was killed while trying to escape. Five members of the police force currently are on trial in connection with his death.

A presidential committee on northern violence says the police trial “should be expedited and publicized to convey to the public the government's sincerity on the issue.”

The committee is recommending talks with Boko Haram, but only after it renounces all forms of violence and surrenders its arms. Boko Haram has refused previous offers because of what is says is a military build-up in northern states.


You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs