Boko Haram, Nigeria's militant Islamic insurgency, is now an emerging threat to the United States, a new congressional report says.
Boko Haram, which translates roughly to Western education is a sin, has been responsible for an unprecedented wave of attacks in Nigeria this year, including the bombing of a United Nations building that killed 23 people in August and the assassination of MP Modu Bintube in October.
The report was drawn up by congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) who told the House of Representatives subcommittee on counter-terrorism that despite a lack of evidence suggesting that Boko Haram is planning attacks against the homeland, lack of evidence does not mean it cannot happen.
Boko Haram is part of an ongoing movement to make Nigeria an Islamic state adhering to sharia law. The country is split religious and geographically, with a primarily Muslim north and Christian south. Twelve of Nigeria's 36 states are already under sharia law, but with the re-election of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan, violence has erupted.
The Boko Haram group traces its roots back to 2002, but effectively regrouped following Jonathan's election in April. Around 800 people were killed in the riots that followed the vote, and the group has been launching attacks -- mostly in the north -- on consistent basis since.
The Nigerian government has come up with harsh enforcement methods to combat the Boko Haram threat, such as a joint force between the military and police, but Boko Haram has proved to be incredibly resilient.
Boko Haram has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland, the Meehan report stated.
The congressional report cites Boko Haram's long-suspected links with al-Qaida, which could be using the group to gain a stronger foothold in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is true we have links with al-Qaida,” spokesman Abu Quqa told The Nation last week. “They assist us and we assist them. Any Muslim group that is struggling to establish an Islamic state can get support from al-Qaida if they reach out to them.
It was recently alleged that sitting Nigerian senator Ali Ndume was working for, and perhaps organizing, the Islamic sect. Politicians are generally targets of Boko Haram, but Boko Haram spokesperson Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (also known as Usman Al-Zawahiri) said while being questioned by police that Senator Ndume and other northern politicians have been behind some of the group's acts, according to All Africa.
Boko Haram also fingered the late Nigerian ambassador to São Tomé and Príncipe, Saidu Pindar, as a member of Boko Haram, who died in a car crash while delivering 5 million Nigerian naira (about $3,100) to the sect.
Senator Ndume has been apprehended by the State Security Services and charged with criminal breach of trust. Ndume has plead not guilty, although a number of his colleagues have publicly supported him. Nonetheless, the arrest and the allegations are a worrying sign for the Nigerian government's fight against radicalism.
I can't say Ndume is guilty; there has to be hard fact... if this could be true then you can see that no the society is not safe. Who do you trust? I don't know..., a fellow senator told The Moment, on the condition of anonymity.