Sunday, August 28, 2011

US, UN Join Fight Against Boko Haram

SPURRED by Friday’s bombing of the United Nations House in Abuja, the fight against the extremist agenda of the Boko Haram has now taken an international dimension, as top officials of the United Nations and the US government are ready to square up with the activities of the group.
 Authoritative sources disclosed that while the United Nations has sent some of its senior officials to join the Federal Government in working out a framework to deal with the perpetrators of attack, the US government has also offered investigative assistance to track down leaders of the Islamic sect.
 Besides, it was learnt, over the weekend, that the Commander of the US Africa Command, AFRICOM, in an earlier visit to Nigeria this month had offered to provide help to the Nigerian Military and government on how to deal with the menace of the extremist group, especially when the Americans suspected that Boko Haram was trying to link up with the Al Quaeda terrorist group.
 A report by the Associated Press in the US quoted AFRICOM’s Commander, General Carter Ham, as saying that Boko Haram might be seeking to mount joint attacks in Nigeria with other African militants.
 Ham reportedly stated then that US intelligence sources indicated that Boko Haram had made contact with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in North Africa, and with the Shabab in Somalia.
 Also speaking over the weekend, a senior UN diplomat, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who was visibly upset about Friday’s attack, said the perpetrators of the attack on the UN House, “by attacking the UN, are the ones internationalising the issue and thus requiring international cooperation in response to their awful acts.”
 According to Gambari, who is the United Nations and African Union Joint Special Representative to Darfur and an Under Secretary-General, the deployment by the UN Secretary-General Ban of his deputy and other top UN officials to Nigeria “is a welcome move,“ adding that “I am sure the Nigerian government will cooperate with the international community.”
 Said he, ‘international terrorism requires international response; we need a common response.” Gambari, a former Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister, added: “I welcome our Government’s prompt response and President Jonathan’s statement.”
 While speaking with the AP last week, Ham said the US believes Boko Haram may be splitting with one section focused on domestic issues and another on violent international extremism.
 In his words: “What is most worrying at present is, at least in my view, a clearly stated intent by Boko Haram and by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb to coordinate and synchronize their efforts...I’m not so sure they’re able to do that just yet, but it’s clear to me they have the desire and intent to do that.”
 Ham also disclosed that a “loose” partnership also would include al-Shabab. A suspected al-Shabab bomb maker now facing terrorism charges in New York was, at one point, detained by secret police in Nigeria.
 According to the AP report, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos.
 Besides, “a recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian, who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.”
 Similarly, the AP reported that US General Ham met last week with “Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom.” At that meeting, Ham reportedly promised that the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.
 “We have a lot of folks who are pretty good about taking multiple pieces of apparently disparate information and putting that in a way that can be useful to operational commanders in a very short period of time,” the general reportedly said.