Nigeria’s Boko Haram is an “emerging threat” to the United States and is forging ties with Al Qaeda affiliates in Africa, according to a US Congressional report released Wednesday.
The radical Islamist group has been blamed for several attacks in Nigeria, including the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in the capital city, Abuja, in August. The blast killed at least 24 people and was its first attack on a high-profile international target, according to Vanguard.
Patrick Meehan, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report, told the BBC the US needs to strengthen relations with Nigerian security forces to combat the quickly evolving threat Boko Haram poses.
“We ought to put much more into developing local intelligence and relationships, and more into cooperating with Nigerian authorities to encourage them to help us work together to understand the nature of the threat,” he said.
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The report comes as Nigeria’s defense minister claimed that weapons from Libya were being smuggled in the northern part of the country.
Though Meehan said there is “little evidence” to suggest the militants are planning an attack against the US, he said “lack of evidence does not mean it cannot happen.”
The report added that Boko Haram “has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level” with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Shabaab in Somalia, according to AFP.
The militants’ goal is to create a nation in the north of Nigeria governed by Sharia and do not recognize the country’s constitution or President Goodluck Jonathan, Voice of America reported.