Since carrying out its first attack under Abubakar Shekau’s leadership in September 2010, Boko Haram has unleashed a wave of violence in northern Nigeria, mostly targeted against government personnel and security officers, Muslim politicians and traditional Muslim religious leaders, and Christians.[1] Although the insurgency began as a local movement in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State, since August 2011 there have been increasing signs of international collaboration between Boko Haram and militants outside Nigerian territory, such as in Borno State’s border region, northern Mali, the Sahel, Somalia and other countries in the Muslim world. As a result of these international connections, Boko Haram, which in 2009 was known as a “machete-wielding mob,” has now matched—and even exceeded—the capabilities of some al-Qa`ida affiliates, while also incorporating al-Qa`ida ideology into the locally driven motives for the insurgency in northern Nigeria.

This article examines Boko Haram’s international connections and their impact on the insurgency in northern Nigeria.

Boko Haram in Mali
In November 2012, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO)[2] and al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) captured Menaka in Mali’s Gao region from the secular Tuareg-led militia, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). An MNLA spokesman said that MUJAO, AQIM and Boko Haram prevented the local population from leaving the city so that they could be used as human shields.[3] Several sources corroborate the spokesman’s claim that Boko Haram fighters are present in Mali.

First, news reports from Mali said that 100 Boko Haram militants reinforced MUJAO’s positions in the battle for Gao and that Boko Haram helped MUJAO raid the Algerian consulate in Gao and kidnap the vice-consul, who was executed by MUJAO on September 2, 2012, and that Boko Haram supported MUJAO, AQIM and Ansar Eddine in their January 8, 2013, attack on Kona, central Mopti region.[4] Second, displaced persons from Gao, including a former parliamentarian, said that Boko Haram is training at MUJAO-run camps.[5] Third, military officials from Niger said that Boko Haram militants are transiting Niger en route to Mali on a daily basis.[6] Fourth, a MUJAO commander said in an interview with a Beninese journalist for Radio France Internationale that Boko Haram members were arriving in Gao en masse.[7] Fifth, U.S. Africa Command General Carter Ham, who in January 2012 said Boko Haram has links to AQIM and al-Shabab, said in November that Boko Haram militants train in camps in northern Mali and most likely receive financing and explosives from AQIM.[8] In addition, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Nigerian minister of foreign affairs, Nigerien foreign minister, Malian foreign minister and Algerian minister for Maghreb and African affairs report that Boko Haram and AQIM are coordinating operations in northern Mali.[9]

A Boko Haram video released on November 29, 2012, suggested that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau may be one of the Boko Haram militants in northern Mali. The video emerged only one month after a Nigerian media source reported that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan discussed Shekau coordinating attacks in northern Nigeria from northern Mali during the president’s October 17 visit to Niamey and October 19 visit to Bamako.[10] In contrast to Shekau’s first five video statements of 2012, the November 29 video is the first to show Shekau not seated in a room wearing traditional Islamic dress, but wearing green camouflaged military fatigues and training in a desert with heavily armed and veiled militants. He did not speak in Hausa, the predominant language of northern Nigeria, but spoke entirely in Arabic, and he praised the “brothers and shaykhs in the Islamic Maghreb” and “soldiers of the Islamic State of Mali.”[11] The video was also not disseminated via YouTube like the previous five videos, but posted on a jihadist online forum. In the video, Shekau appealed to al-Qa`ida by paying homage to “martyred” leaders such as Usama bin Ladin, Abu Yahya al-Libi and Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi. He recited five of the ten suras in the Qur’an that are most commonly quoted by al-Qa`ida, and he called the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Israel “crusaders” and warned them that “jihad has begun.”[12]

Even if Shekau is not in Mali, it is unlikely that he is still in Nigeria. In contrast to Mali’s and Niger’s vast desert regions, where AQIM has hosted training camps since the mid-2000s that Boko Haram members have attended, northeastern Nigeria’s desert is not known to have terrorist training camps and is not particularly remote or uninhabited.[13] Shekau and the other militants would have also placed themselves at unprecedented risk to train in broad daylight, as seen on the video, in Nigeria only days after Abuja announced a $320,000 reward for information leading to Shekau’s capture and lesser rewards for 18 Boko Haram Shura Committee members.[14]

Boko Haram militants could have joined the insurgency in northern Mali in alliance with MUJAO and AQIM, and Abubakar Shekau and his commanders may have found refuge in northern Mali or Niger to escape the Nigerian security forces crackdown on Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. The crackdown led to the capture or killing of more than 10 commanders since September 2012, as well as Shekau’s spokesman, one of his wives and his daughter.[15] Shekau and other commanders are likely coming into greater contact with AQIM and therefore attempting to steer Boko Haram’s ideology closer to al-Qa`ida.

Borno’s Border Region
While some Boko Haram members have come from the parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon that border Borno State and where the three main languages of Borno—Hausa, Kanuri and Arabic—are spoken, few members are reported to have come from outside of those three countries or Nigeria.[16] According to one of Boko Haram founder Muhammad Yusuf’s relatives, 40% of Boko Haram’s funding comes from outside of Nigeria, and as many as one-third of its members fled Nigeria following major clashes with the government in July 2009.[17]

The architect of those clashes was a Nigerien, Abubakar Kilakam. While Kilakam was arrested and deported to Niger, several other Nigerien Boko Haram leaders are still in Nigeria, including Ali Jalingo, who masterminded bombings in Borno State and escaped an attempt to capture him in Benue State on January 7, 2013.[18] Other Boko Haram leaders are reportedly still hiding in Diffa, Niger, and Boko Haram cells were uncovered in Zinder, Niger in September 2012 and Diffa in December 2011 and February 2012.[19] Similarly, in 2012, Boko Haram members have been reported in several primarily Baggara Arabic-speaking cities of Far North Province, Cameroon, including Fotokol, Kousseri, Mora and the border town of Banki-Amchide, where on December 19, 2012, Cameroonian security forces arrested 31 suspected Boko Haram members, including two Nigeriens, and confirmed that a Boko Haram logistics network facilitates “trans-border operations” and that Boko Haram uses the border area to “regroup after attacks in Nigeria, preparing for the next attacks.”[20] Cameroon’s similar characteristics to Nigeria, such as a relatively poor majority Muslim north, which has seen trade reduced because of Boko Haram attacks on border markets and stricter border monitoring, and a wealthier majority Christian south, also make it an ideal recruiting ground for the group.[21]

In terms of geography, Niger’s vast desert provides an ideal training ground and refuge for Boko Haram, while the Mandara Mountains along the Nigeria-Cameroon border, where state authority is weak and smuggling is pervasive, provides an ideal supply route, hideout and staging ground. The recent upsurge in Boko Haram attacks in rural towns at the foothills of the Mandara Mountains in Adamawa State, where in 2004 Muhammad Yusuf’s followers had their first major battles with the Nigerian security forces, support the claims made by high-level Nigerian and Cameroonian officials that Boko Haram is operating from bases in Cameroon.[22] Some of these attacks include: a December 13, 2012, burning of a police station in Madagali, five miles from the border; a December 28 night raid on a prison, customs office, education administration complex and Divisional Police Headquarters in Maiha, three miles from the border, which killed 21 people, and a separate attack on Fufore, five miles from the border; a December 31 attack on the Divisional Police Headquarters in Hong, 25 miles from the border; and a January 3, 2013, attack involving rocket-propelled grenades fired at government buildings and a police station in Song, 20 miles from the border.[23]

Boko Haram takes advantage of Niger, Chad and Cameroon for refuge, training, transit, attack planning and recruitment. Boko Haram does not, however, carry out attacks in those countries, possibly to prevent those governments from cracking down on the group and because Boko Haram’s grievances are rooted in Nigeria. The porosity of the border region is one reason why the first Boko Haram base called “Afghanistan” in 2003 was situated only two miles from Nigeria’s border with Niger. As reports of Boko Haram in Niger and Cameroon have shown, the border region still serves similar purposes for Boko Haram as it did in 2003.

Boko Haram Diplomacy in Saudi Arabia and Senegal
Boko Haram appears to have a “diplomatic” presence in Saudi Arabia, in addition to other militant connections. In August 2012, a Boko Haram faction led by Abu Muhammed negotiated in Mecca with a Nigerian government team led by National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and advised by General Muhammed Shuwa. President Jonathan has rejected new talks with this faction, however, on the grounds that “there can be no dialogue” with Boko Haram because it is “faceless.”[24] Abu Muhammed’s proposed negotiating team included, among others, the Cameroonian Mamman Nur, who lost a power struggle with Shekau to lead what became the main Boko Haram faction after Muhammad Yusuf’s death in July 2009.[25] Therefore, Abu Muhammed’s claim to represent Shekau’s faction is likely false, and Shekau’s spokesman called Abu Muhammed a “fake” in August 2012.[26]

Boko Haram also has a deeper history of involvement in Saudi Arabia: Muhammad Yusuf found refuge in Saudi Arabia to escape a Nigerian security forces crackdown in 2004; Boko Haram has reportedly received funding with the help of AQIM from organizations in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia; and Boko Haram’s spokesman claimed that Boko Haram leaders met with al-Qa`ida in Saudi Arabia during the lesser hajj (umra) in August 2011.[27] More recently, the leader of a Boko Haram cell that was responsible for the November 25, 2012, attack on a church inside a military barracks in Jaji, Kaduna, was in Saudi Arabia during the months prior to the attack.[28]

Boko Haram may also have had dialogue with the Nigerian government in Senegal, where in August 2012 the imam of the Grand Mosque in Bignona, southern Senegal, claimed that Boko Haram was recruiting local youths.[29] In December 2012, Nigerian media reported that President Jonathan’s adviser and minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godsday Orubebe, held secret negotiations with Boko Haram commanders in Senegal arranged by the Malian and Senegalese secret services.[30] Based on Orubebe’s credentials as the “author” of the government’s arms-for-amnesty peace program with Niger Delta militants in 2009, he may have discussed the release of Boko Haram members from prison and “compensation” for the destruction of mosques and Boko Haram members’ homes, which are demands shared by all Boko Haram factions.[31]

Impact on Northern Nigeria
Emulating the Taliban
Boko Haram has long drawn inspiration from the Taliban and was called the “Nigerian Taliban” by outsiders from 2003 until 2009. Some Boko Haram members have reportedly trained in Afghanistan, and in northern Nigeria Boko Haram appears to have adopted tactics similar to the Taliban.[32] For example, in the second half of 2012, Boko Haram systematically destroyed hundreds of telecom towers, causing millions of dollars of damages and preventing the security forces from tracking down its members; used text messages to coerce government officials against obstructing Boko Haram operations and warned civilians against cooperating with the government; extorted “taxes” from merchants with the threat of death to the family members of anyone who does not pay; and employed complex Haqqani-style attacks with multiple suicide bombers. President Jonathan said suicide bombings were “completely alien” to Nigeria after Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives in his undergarments on a Detroit-bound airliner on behalf of al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2009. On June 16, 2011, however, one day after Boko Haram warned that its members arrived from Somalia “where they received real training on warfare,” Boko Haram carried out its first suicide car bombing at the Federal Police Headquarters in Abuja, and then in August 2011 the Somali-trained Mamman Nur masterminded another suicide car bombing at the UN Headquarters in Abuja.[33] After more than 30 Boko Haram suicide attacks in 2012, it is now fathomable that Boko Haram could employ female suicide bombers, a tactic which the Taliban have employed in Afghanistan since June 2010.[34]

As a sign of Boko Haram’s desire to hold territory, the group has also planted flags with its logo in its desired future capital of Damatru, Yobe State, and mobilized 500 supporters in the streets of Damatru in December 2011 as a show of force after the commissioner of police said there were no Boko Haram members in the state.[35]

Weapons Procurement
Boko Haram has procured weapons from abroad, which was described as a “worrisome development” by the Nigerian chief superintendent of police in August 2012.[36] Such weapons include rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) with a 900 meter range for attacking hardened targets from long distances and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for ambushing military and police convoys.[37] There is also concern that Boko Haram could use Libyan-made man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) to shoot down commercial airlines flying into Niger, Chad and Nigeria—a tactic employed in 2002 by an al-Qa`ida-linked Somali terrorist cell on a Mombasa-borne Israeli El Al airlines flight.[38] The threat of a Boko Haram attack on aviation prompted Nigeria to place all airports in the country on 24-hour security surveillance during the Christmas holiday in December 2012.[39] The weapons in Boko Haram’s “upgrade” often enter the country through illegal or unmanned border crossings and sometimes with the collaboration of immigration officials.[40] Boko Haram attacks on border posts, such as a 50-man attack at Gamboru-Ngala on the Nigerian side of the border with Cameroon on December 2, 2012, are often intended as a diversion to smuggle weapons through other border areas.[41]

Target Selection
Boko Haram’s target selection has also been influenced by its interaction with militants abroad. The Cameroonian Mamman Nur, who is wanted by Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for masterminding the August 26, 2011, bombing of the UN Headquarters in Abuja, reportedly fled to Chad and then traveled to Somalia to receive explosives training from al-Shabab before returning to Nigeria in the weeks before the attack.[42] The UN attack remains the only time Boko Haram has targeted an international institution and was similar to al-Qa`ida’s attack on the UN building in Baghdad in 2003 and AQIM’s attack on the UN building in Algiers in 2007.

In 2012, the group also showed a new focus on foreigners. A British and Italian hostage were killed in Sokoto in March; a German hostage was killed in Kano in June; a French hostage was kidnapped in Katsina in December; and a number of Chinese and Indians were killed in Borno in late 2012.[43]

Transnational Ideology
As seen in Shekau’s November 29 video statement, interaction with Islamist militias has likely caused a shift in Shekau’s messaging, which now resembles al-Qa`ida’s. The Boko Haram faction Ansaru[44] has also embraced an ideology similar to MUJAO as well as the primary tactic of MUJAO and AQIM: kidnapping foreigners.[45] Ansaru was placed on the UK Proscribed Terror List on November 23, 2012, for kidnapping and killing a British and Italian hostage in March 2012 while operating under the name “al-Qa`ida in the Lands Beyond the Sahel.” On December 24, 2012, Ansaru also claimed the kidnapping of a French engineer in Katsina 30 miles from the Nigerien border and said it would continue attacking the French government and French citizens until France ends its ban on the Islamic veil and its “major role in the planned attack on the Islamic state in northern Mali,” which is virtually the same warning that MUJAO’s and AQIM’s leaders have issued to France.[46] According to the United Kingdom, Ansaru is “anti-Western” and “broadly aligned” to al-Qa`ida, while in its own words Ansaru says it wants to restore the “dignity of Usman dan Fodio.”[47] Similarly, MUJAO proclaimed at the time of its founding in December 2011 that it wants to spread jihad in West Africa and that its members are “ideological descendants” of Usman dan Fodio.[48] MUJAO and Boko Haram have also both threatened to attack the West when their capabilities enable them to do so.[49]

At a time when even al-Qa`ida is questioning its own brand, militant groups need not have formal affiliation with al-Qa`ida to have an international agenda.[50] Boko Haram’s connections to militants in northern Mali, the Sahel and elsewhere in the Muslim world enable it to receive and provide support to other Islamist militias. As a result, Boko Haram will be capable of surviving outside of its main base of operations in Borno State if the Nigerian security forces drive out key leaders from Nigeria such as Abubakar Shekau. Moreover, Boko Haram has been able to draw on al-Qa`ida’s ideology and take advantage of anti-government and anti-Western sentiment in northern Nigeria to justify its existence and recruit new members from Nigeria and Borno’s border region.[51]

As evidenced by the collapse of the Malian state when Tuareg fighters based in Libya returned to “Azawad” after the fall of the Mu`ammar Qadhafi regime, the transfer of Boko Haram fighters from Nigeria to other countries in the Sahel does not bode well for the region. It means Nigeria’s problem will become another country’s problem, such as Mali, Cameroon or Niger, or smaller countries like Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Like northern Nigeria, these countries have majority Muslim populations, artificial borders, ethnic conflicts, insufficient educational and career opportunities for youths and fragile democratic institutions, and they have all witnessed Islamist militant infiltration in their countries and their countrymen traveling to northern Mali to join the Islamist militias in 2012. Although the ethnic groups in some of these countries differ from northern Nigeria, Boko Haram and Ansaru have the potential to inspire other “Boko Harams” in West Africa with their ideologies that fault the secular government, democracy and the West for their troubles and hark back to a time when Usman dan Fodio and the Islamic caliphate brought “glory” and “dignity” to the Muslims of the region.

Jacob Zenn is an analyst of African and Eurasian Affairs for The Jamestown Foundation and author of the Occasional Report entitled “Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy,” published by The Jamestown Foundation in November 2012. In 2012, he conducted field research in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon on the socioeconomic factors behind the Boko Haram insurgency. Mr. Zenn earned a J.D. from Georgetown Law, where he was a Global Law Scholar, and a graduate degree in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins SAIS Center for Chinese-American Studies in Nanjing, China. He has spoken at international conferences on Boko Haram and is frequently interviewed by international media.

[1] Boko Haram’s first attack with Abubakar Shekau as leader was on September 7, 2010, when approximately 50 fighters attacked Bauchi prison and freed more than 150 Boko Haram members after promising that they would not spend Eid al-Fitr behind bars. An additional 500 prisoners were also freed, some of whom are believed to have then joined Boko Haram. See Sani Muhd Sani, “Attack On Bauchi Prison – Boko Haram Frees 721 Inmates,” Leadership, September 8, 2010.

[2] MUJAO was formed as an offshoot of AQIM. MUJAO focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, but it is still led primarily by Malian Arabs.

[3] Jemal Oumar, “Touareg Rebels Vow Terror Crackdown,” Magharebia, November 22, 2012.

[4] “Dozens of Boko Haram Help Mali’s Rebel Seize Gao,” Vanguard, April 9, 2012; “Boko Haram en renfort des islamistes armés dans le nord du Mali,” Radio France Internationale, April 10, 2012; “Malian Extremists Execute Kidnapped Algerian Diplomat,” Agence France-Presse, September 2, 2012; “Africa Facing Sharp Rise in Islamic Extremism,” Agence France-Presse, July 6, 2012; Serge Daniel, “Bilal Hicham, rebelle du nord du Mali,” Radio France Internationale, August 4, 2012; “Niger Seeks Joint Southern Border Patrols to Bar Boko Haram,” Reuters, October 7, 2012; “Top US Commander in Africa Cautions Against Intervention in Mali Despite al-Qaida Threat,” Associated Press, December 3, 2012; “Mali Troops Fire Shots at Islamist Fighters,” News24, January 8, 2013.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Joe Brock, “U.S. Still on High Alert for Nigeria Attacks,” Reuters, November 22, 2012; “Boko Haram: Why Nigeria, ECOWAS Will Intervene in Mali – Minister,” The Nation, November 8, 2012; Laurent Prieur, “Boko Haram Got al Qaeda Bomb Training, Niger Says,” Reuters, January 24, 2012; Raby Ould Idoumo and Bakari Guèye “Faltering al-Qaeda Turns to Boko Haram,” Magharebia, January 27, 2012. The MNLA also claimed that “Islamist extremist groups including Ansar Dine, Boko Haram and al Qaeda have seized control of Timbuktu along with the towns of Gao and Kidal, and have killed top MNLA leaders there.” See “Mali Separatists Ready to Act over Destruction of Tombs,” CNN, July 1, 2012.

[10] “Uncovered: Boko Haram Base Traced to Mali – Intelligence Report Identifies Training, Operational Base,” The Sun, October 27, 2012.

[11] In addition to the November 29, 2012, video, Boko Haram released Abubakar Shekau’s video statements on January 10, January 26, April 12, August 4 and September 30, 2012.

[12] Abubakar Shekau, “Glad Tidings, O Soldiers of Allah,” November 29, 2012. Two days after appearing on popular jihadist websites, the video was posted to the Ana al-Muslim Network website. The 39-minute video featured Shekau reciting, among other common suras, at-Tawbah, Ali Imran. al-Ma’ida, al-Anfal, and al-Haj. See “How Islamist Extremists Quote the Qur’an,” Arizona State University Center for Strategic Communication, July 9, 2012.

[13] In September 2012, a long-time Boko Haram member and employee in Nigeria’s immigration service confessed to having trained in assassinations and special operations with 15 other militants, some of whom were Nigerian security officers. See “Nigerian Officials Held for ‘Boko Haram Links,’” al-Jazira, September 30, 2012.

[14] It is certain that the video, which was released on November 29, 2012, was shot after November 25 since the prologue of the video offered “many glad tidings on…the storming of the prison in the Nigerian capital, Abuja and freeing more than 150 mujahidin in response to Nigeria’s tyrants dedicating a sum of money to anyone who gives information about the shaykh or one of the commanders.” The “storming of the prison” refers to the November 25 raid on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja, which was claimed by the Boko Haram faction Ansaru. The “giving information about the shaykh or one of the commanders” refers to the Joint Task Force’s November 24 declaration of “19 most wanted Boko Haram commanders.” See Yemi Akinsuyi, “Boko Haram Attacks SARS Police HQ, Abuja,” ThisDayLive, November 26, 2012; “JTF Declares 19 Boko Haram Commanders Wanted,” Leadership, November 24, 2012.

[15] After a November 18, 2012, battle with Nigerian security forces, in which 35 Boko Haram members were killed and one of Shekau’s wives and two children were “rescued,” Shekau was believed to have been shot and died, which the November 29 video has now disproved, or been placed “under deep cover abroad.” See “Boko Haram Looks to Mali,” Africa Confidential, November 30, 2012. Shekau was also reported to have fled to northern Cameroon after Boko Haram’s January 20, 2012, attacks in Kano, which killed 186 people. Other Boko Haram commanders are also believed to have sought refuge in Cameroon, including Kabiru Sokoto, who masterminded the Christmas Day 2011 bombings in Madalla, Niger State, which killed more than 30 people. He escaped from police custody with the help of Boko Haram supporters and government collaborators in January 2012, but was recaptured on February 10 in Mutum Mbiyu, Taraba State, which is 300 miles from where Shekau was then reported to be hiding in Ngaoundere, Cameroon, and 100 miles from the Nigeria-Cameroon border. See “Boko Haram Escapee Kabiru Sokoto Re-Arrested in Taraba,” Sahara Reporters, February 10, 2012; “Why We Did Not Kill Obasanjo” – Boko Haram Leader,”, January 23, 2012.

[16] One of the lone reported cases of a non-Nigerian militant in Nigeria was a Mauritanian who used his shop in Kano as a base for an AQIM cell that kidnapped a German engineer in January 2012, but there is no evidence that the kidnappers or the Mauritanian were members of Boko Haram. See Habeeb I. Pindiga et al., “Kidnap of German – Maurita¬nian, Four Others Arrested in Kano,” Daily Trust, March 28, 2012. For more details on this incident, see Jacob Zenn, “Boko Haram’s Dangerous Expansion into Northwest Nigeria,” CTC Sentinel 5:10 (2012). On December 29, 2012, Radio Risala in Somalia reported that “Al-Shabab fighters have entered [Nigeria] to assist the Nigerian Islamist fighters,” but this report has not been corroborated elsewhere. See “Somalia’s Al-Shabab Fighters said Pouring into Nigeria,” Radio Risala, December 30, 2012.

[17] These militants fled after a four-day battle with Nigerian security forces in northeastern Nigeria in July 2009, in which more than 20 security officers and as many as 1,000 Boko Haram members were killed, including founder Muhammad Yusuf. See “Suspects Charged in Nigeria Bombing,” al-Jazira, December 25, 2011. Some of these fighters followed the sermons of Boko Haram founder Muhammad Yusuf or viewed Boko Haram propaganda CDs and DVDs, which were available in border markets until the Nigerien and Cameroonian authorities enforced a ban on them in early 2012. See “Two Boko Haram Suspects Arrested,” ThisDayLive, February 18, 2012.

[18] “Terror Suspect Escapes Arrest in Benue,” Leadership, January 7, 2013. Jalingo is the capital of Taraba State in Nigeria. Although it is not uncommon in northern Nigeria to assume one’s geographic origin as a surname, news reports and Nigerian analysts say that Ali Jalingo is Nigerien. Nigeria placed a $60,000 reward for information leading to Ali Jalingo’s capture in November 2012.

[19] “Niger Police Arrest 5 Suspected Boko Haram Members,” Vanguard, September 27, 2012; “Diffa Traders Hit by Border Closure,” IRIN, February 20, 2012.

[20] Eric Kouama, “The Unpredictable Terror of Boko Haram,” Radio Netherlands, March 21, 2012; Raoul Guivanda, “AMCHIDE: 31 membres de Boko Haram livrés au Nigeria,”, December 27, 2012.

[21] “Boko Haram Threat Harms Cameroon-Nigeria Border Trade,”, December 27, 2012.

[22] Soloman Tembang Mforgham, “Boko Haram Infilitrates Cameroon,” Africanews, January 11, 2012; “Nigerian Troops and Islamic Militants Trade Gunfire in Mountains,” Agence France-Presse, September 25, 2004.

[23] “Yola Police Station Razed by Gunmen,” Nigeria World News, December 13, 2012; “Police Confirm Attack on Station in Hong,” Leadership, December 31, 2012; “7 Die in Another Day of Boko Haram Terror,” Premium Times, January 3, 2013; “Borno State Boils Again: 7 People Killed as JTF and Boko Haram Militants Clash,” Daily Post, January 4, 2013. Boko Haram also attacked towns along Borno’s border with Niger on December 1 and December 6, 2012, with the latter attack forcing more than 1,000 refugees to flee from Borno to Diffa, Niger, after villagers were killed when they could not recite specific verses of the Qur’an when ordered to by Boko Haram. See “1000 Nigerians Flee after Boko Haram Killings,” PM News, December 6, 2012.

[24] “Nigeria Not Talking to Boko Haram Islamists, President Says,” Agence France-Presse, November 18, 2012.

[25] Uduma Kalu, “How Nur, Shekau Run Boko Haram,” Vanguard, September 3, 2011; Ibrahim Garba, “Nigerian Government Enters Talks with Boko Haram,” Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2012. The fact that Nur is believed to have masterminded the UN Headquarters bombing lends credibility to the idea that the attack was not carried out by Shekau’s faction, but may have been carried out by more internationally focused groups.

[26] “Statement By Boko Haram’s Spokesperson Debunking Reports Of Dialogue With The Nigerian Government,” Sahara Reporters, August 23, 2012; “Analyst says Boko Haram’s Ceasefire Conditions are Impossible,” Channels TV, November 2, 2012.

[27] Monica Mark, “Boko Haram Vows to Fight Until Nigeria Establishes Sharia Law,” Guardian, January 27, 2012. Abu Qaqa said, “Al-Qaida are our elder brothers. During the lesser Hajj [August 2011], our leader traveled to Saudi Arabia and met al-Qaida there. We enjoy financial and technical support from them.” In August 2011, Abu Qaqa reported that the spokesman before him, Abu Zaid, was “out of the country.” See Taiwo Adisa, “Boko Haram’s Funding Traced to UK, S/Arabia – Sect Planned to Turn Nigeria into Afghanistan – Arrested Kingpin Opens Up,” Nigerian Tribune, February 13, 2012. This article also said, “Sources confirmed that while the organisation relied on donations by its members in its earlier days, its links with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) opened it to fundings from groups in Saudi Arabia and the UK.”

[28] “Army Raids Bomb Factory, Arrests 12 In Niger,” Leadership, December 8, 2012.

[29] “Fansou Bodian imam ratib de Bignona: ‘La secte Boko Haram est présente au Sénégal,’”, August 22, 2012.

[30] “I Won’t Change My Stance on Amnesty – Orubebe,” Leadership, July 20, 2011.

[31] Success Nwogu, “Sagay, NBA Back FG, Boko Haram Senegal Talks,” Punch NG, December 3, 2012; George Agba, “Of FG/Boko Haram-Dialogue and Double Standard,” Leadership, December 7, 2012.

[32] Before 2009, Muhammad Yusuf’s followers were often called the “Nigerian Taliban,” but they had no formal connection to the Taliban in Afghanistan. They did, however, admire the Taliban, Mullah Omar and Usama bin Ladin. See “Boko Haram ‘Trained in Algeria, Afghanistan,’” ThisDay, September 1, 2011; “Nigerian Trained in Afghanistan,” BBC, September 2, 2009. The Nigerian chief of defense staff also affirmed at a presentation at King’s College, London, on November 21, 2012, that some Boko Haram members have trained in Afghanistan.

[33] “Nigerian Islamists Vow ‘Fiercer’ Attacks,” Agence France-Presse, June 15, 2011.

[34] “Nigerian Police Step Up Security Around Telecom Towers After Boko Haram Attacks,” International Business Times, September 7, 2012; David Cook, “Boko Haram: A Prognosis,” Rice University, December 16, 2011. According to Cook, the significance of the advent of suicide attacks as part of complex operations is not indigenous to Nigeria and appear to be based on the tactics of Afghan and Haqqani networks. Also see “Suicide Bombing Alien To Nigeria – Jonathan,” The Tide, January 9, 2010; “Boko Haram Capable of Using Female Suicide Bombers, Chemical Weapons – Counter Terrorism Expert,” African Spotlight, December 8, 2012.

[35] “Nigerian Terrorists in Mass Importation of Rocket Launchers…Plan to Ditch IEDs in Favor Of RPGs – Trafficking Carried Out Across Porous Borders,” Beegeagle’s Blog, August 5, 2012; Kingsley Omonobi, “Army Blocks Move by Boko Haram to Hoist Flag in Damatru,” Vanguard, October 26, 2012; Osita Okolo, “Untold Secret of the Survival of Boko Haram Sect in Yobe,” Vanguard, February 11, 2012.

[36] In September 2011, the chief of army staff said, “Involvement of foreigners in Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in Nigeria is certain. It is definite that the group receives training and possibly funding from some foreign elements…This is evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them, from the type of communication equipment we have captured from them and from the expertise they have displayed in the preparation of improvised explosive devices. These are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.” See Yusuf Alli and Gbade Ogunwale, “Boko Haram Gets Foreign Backing,” The Nation, September 28, 2011; Toyosi Ogunseye, “Terrorists in Mass Importation of Rocket Launchers,” Punch NG, August 5, 2012.

[37] “Boko Haram Upgrading Weapons from IEDs to RPGs, Police Says,” Punch NG, July 15, 2012.

[38] David Ignatius, “Libyan Missiles on the Loose,” Washington Post, May 8, 2012.

[39] “Boko Haram: FG Tightens up Security in Airports,” Daily Post, December 29, 2012.

[40] Olawale Rasheed, “Arms Inflow from Northern Borders Intensifies: The Gaddafi Mercenaries Connection, Boko Haram Members Relocate to Kano, Others,” Nigerian Tribune, October 3, 2011; “Army Arrests Immigration Officer, Others over Boko Haram Links,” ThisDayLive, September 29, 2012; Lydia Beshel, “Challenges of Nigeria’s Porous Borders,” Reporters 365, August 9, 2012; “Boko Haram Upgrading Weapons from IEDs to RPGs, Police Says,” Pilot Africa, August 4, 2012.

[41] “Gunmen ‘Burn Churches, Border Posts in Borno State,’” Vanguard, December 2, 2012.

[42] Yusuf Alli, “FBI, INTERPOL Join Manhunt for Bomb Suspect Nur,” The Nation, September 21, 2011.

[43] “Gunmen Kill Chinese Worker in Northern Nigeria,” Energy Daily, October 8, 2012. The article also noted that, “In July, suspected members of Boko Haram attacked a factory in Maiduguri, killing two Indian nationals and stealing about $600 in cash. Separately, the high-profile kidnappings and subsequent deaths of British, Italian and German nationals earlier this year was blamed on Islamist extremists.”

[44] Ansaru is the abbreviated name for Jama`at Ansar al-Muslimin fi Bilad al-Sudan, which means “Supporters of the Muslims in the Land of the Blacks.” Ansaru seeks a united front with Abubakar Shekau’s faction in confronting mutual enemies, such as Christians and the Nigerian government, but views the killing of Muslims by Shekau’s faction as “inexcusable.”

[45] Ansaru broke from Boko Haram after the January 20, 2012, attacks in Kano, which killed more than 150 innocent civilians, mostly Muslims. One of Ansaru’s leaders is believed to be Khalid al-Barnawy, who trained with AQIM in Algeria in the mid-2000s and participated in several kidnapping operations in Niger. Al-Barnawy was one of three Boko Haram members that the United States designated as a “foreign terrorist,” along with Abubakar Shekau and Adam Kambar, in July 2012. Kambar was killed by Nigerian security forces in Kano in November 2012, while Shekau and al-Barnawy remain at large.

[46] Ibrahim Shuaibu, “Islamic Group Claims Responsibility for Kidnapping French Citizen,” ThisDay, December 24, 2012; Tiemoko Diallo, “Mali Islamists Tell France They Will Open Doors of Hell,” Reuters, October 13, 2012.

[47] In the 19th century, Usman dan Fodio conquered Sokoto and most of northern Nigeria and influenced other jihads in the areas of West Africa where Boko Haram is present today, such as northern Cameroon, northern Nigeria, Niger, northern Mali and Senegal. See Philip D. Curtin, “Jihad in West Africa: Early Phases and Inter-Relations in Mauritania and Senegal,” Journal of African History 12:1 (1971): pp. 11-24.

[48] MUJAO emerged for the first time in December 2011, when it claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of three European aid workers from a Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria in October 2011. It cited as inspiration historical militant leaders in the region, including Usman dan Fodio and El Hajj Omar Tell.

[49] MUJAO military leader Oumar Ould Hamaha said in December 2012 that, “If they don’t come here, one day we will attack [the West]. If we cannot do this in our time, our sons and the next generation will attack the West.” Similarly, in May 2010, one of Boko Haram’s members said in an interview with Agence France-Presse, “We will carry out our operations anywhere in the world if we can have the chance. The United States is the number one target for its oppression and aggression against Muslim nations, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan and its blind support to Israel in its killings of our Palestinian brethren. We will launch fiercer attacks than Iraqi or Afghan mujahidin against our enemies throughout the world, particularly the United States, if the chance avails itself…but for now our attention is focused on Nigeria, which is our starting point.” See Sudarsan Raghavan and Edward Cody, “Mali Presents Risky Battleground for Neighbouring Nations and Western Allies,” Independent, December 9, 2012; Aminu Abubakar, “Nigerian Islamic Sect Threaten to Widen Attacks,” Agence France-Presse, March 29, 2010.

[50] “According to newly released documents, Osama bin Laden mulled renaming Al Qaeda amid worries that the terrorist group had become a tarnished brand,” in Whitney Eulich, “Renaming Al Qaeda to Tanthim al-Jihadi litahrir al-aksa wa-tawhid al-Umma?” Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2012.

[51] Anti-American sentiment in northern Nigeria has been bolstered by Islamist organizations, such as the Shi`a fundamentalist and pro-Iranian Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) led by Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, whose membership has increased with Iranian sponsorship in recent years. See “Thousands Protest over Anti-Islam Film in Kano Nigeria,” BBC, September 22, 2012.

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