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American counterterrorism officials voice alarm over Bokos potential ties to Al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa and Somalia

 

…“There’s no reason to doubt Boko Haram’s claim,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who leads the American military’s Africa Command, said in an e-mail Monday.

President  Obama

“All the characteristics fit their profile. Sadly, these attacks are wholly consistent with Boko Haram’s increasingly violent ideology. I remain greatly concerned about their stated intent to connect with Al Qaeda senior leadership, most likely through Al Qaeda in the lands of the Islamic Maghreb

American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have voiced alarm in recent months about the growing operational abilities of Boko Haram and its potential ties to Al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa, Yemen and Somalia.

 

“There’s no reason to doubt Boko Haram’s claim,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who leads the American military’s Africa Command, said in an e-mail Monday. “All the characteristics fit their profile. Sadly, these attacks are wholly consistent with Boko Haram’s increasingly violent ideology. I remain greatly concerned about their stated intent to connect with Al Qaeda senior leadership, most likely through Al Qaeda in the lands of the Islamic Maghreb.”

 

General Ham met in August with Nigerian military and security officials, saying the United States would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

 

In September, General Ham said that three African terrorist organizations — the Shabab in Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb across the Sahel region of northern Africa and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria — “have very explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target Westerners, and the U.S. specifically.”

 

General Ham said that he was particularly worried about “the voiced intent of the three organizations to more closely collaborate and synchronize their efforts.”

 

Defense Department officials said in mid-September that a large car bomb detonated in August by Boko Haram militants bore signature elements of the improvised explosives used by the Qaeda offshoot in the Sahel.

 

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language, came to national prominence in 2009, when its members attacked police stations near its base of Maiduguri, a dusty northeastern city on the cusp of the Sahara Desert. Nigeria’s military violently suppressed the attack, crushing the sect’s mosque into shards and arresting its leader, who died in police custody.

 

About 700 people died during the violence, and many analysts and residents say the Nigerian government’s heavy-handed response has frequently worsened the situation, killing civilians and helping the group recruit new volunteers to its cause.

 

American officials said the group initially carried out small-scale, hit-and-run assassinations from the back of motorbikes after the 2009 riot. But in the past year, Boko Haram has demonstrated a newfound sophistication and planning of larger-scale attacks. It claimed responsibility for a Nov. 4 attack on Damaturu, Yobe state’s capital, which killed more than 100. The group also claimed the Aug. 24 suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria’s capital that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.

 

It has engineered other daring attacks, including the June bombing of Nigeria’s federal police headquarters, the assassination of a prominent politician and a prison break that freed more than 700 inmates.

 

 

 

Courtesy New York Times

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