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February 8, 2012 0

Boko Haram’s Capabilities Pose Threat Outside Nigeria

In the lat­est demon­stra­tion of its evolv­ing capa­bil­i­ties, Boko Haram, a mil­i­tant group seek­ing to cre­ate an Islamic state in Nige­ria, claimed respon­si­bil­ity on Tues­day for car­ry­ing out a sui­cide car bomb­ing at the Niger­ian mil­i­tary head­quar­ters in the north-central city of Kaduna and another bomb­ing at a nearby airbase.
The tac­tic employed at the mil­i­tary head­quar­ters – a sui­cide bomber dressed as a mem­ber of the mil­i­tary – may demon­strate the con­tin­u­ing influ­ence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda’s affil­i­ates in North Africa and Soma­lia, on the group’s oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ties. AQIM and Al Shabaab’s grow­ing ties to Boko Haram also raises the specter that the group may seek to emu­late their strat­egy of under­tak­ing inter­na­tional attacks tar­get­ing West­ern interests.
Although the group has not car­ried out attacks out­side Nige­ria, Boka Haram has expressed intent to expand its tar­gets glob­ally, includ­ing the United States. Fol­low­ing its August 2011 bomb­ing of a United Nations build­ing in the Niger­ian cap­i­tal of Abuja, mul­ti­ple Boko Haram lead­ers cited oppo­si­tion to West­ern pow­ers as the dri­ving fac­tor behind the attack. In a March 2010 inter­view with West­ern media, a man claim­ing to be a Boko Haram spokesman iden­ti­fied the U.S. as “the num­ber one tar­get for its oppres­sion and aggres­sion against Mus­lim nations… and its blind sup­port to Israel.”

The threat posed by Boko Haram has not gone unno­ticed. Gen­eral Carter Ham, com­mand­ing offi­cer of the United States Africa Com­mand (AFRICOM), has indi­cated that he believes Boko Haram poses a threat to the United States and U.S. inter­ests. In Novem­ber 2011, Con­gress held a hear­ing on the threat posed by the group “to the U.S. Home­land.”  West African nations have also held regional secu­rity sum­mits con­cern­ing Boko Haram’s abil­ity to act beyond Nigeria’s bor­ders, con­cen­trat­ing on its links to other ter­ror­ist organizations.

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