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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More