[House Prints 112-B]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

   112th Congress 1st 
         Session        |    COMMITTEE PRINT |       Committee
                                                     Print 112-B

                               BOKO HARAM

                  Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland

                            SUBCOMMITTEE ON 



                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


                             December 2011

                             FIRST SESSION

71-725                    WASHINGTON : 2011
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                   Peter T. King, New York, Chairman
Lamar Smith, Texas                   Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi
Daniel E. Lungren, California        Loretta Sanchez, California
Mike Rogers, Alabama                 Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas
Michael T. McCaul, Texas             Henry Cuellar, Texas
Gus M. Bilirakis, Florida            Yvette D. Clarke, New York
Paul C. Broun, Georgia               Laura Richardson, California
Candice S. Miller, Michigan          Danny K. Davis, Illinois
Tim Walberg, Michigan                Brian Higgins, New York
Chip Cravaack, Minnesota             Jackie Speier, California
Joe Walsh, Illinois                  Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana
Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania         Hansen Clarke, Michigan
Ben Quayle, Arizona                  William R. Keating, Massachusetts
Scott Rigell, Virginia               Kathleen C. Hochul, New York
Billy Long, Missouri                 Vacancy
Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
Tom Marino, Pennsylvania
Blake Farenthold, Texas
Mo Brooks, Alabama
           Michael J. Russell, Staff Director & Chief Counsel
               Kerry Ann Watkins, Senior Policy Director
                    Michael S. Twinchek, Chief Clerk
                I. Lanier Avant, Minority Staff Director

                            C O N T E N T S

                               BOKO HARAM
                  Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland

I. Introduction..................................................     1
II. Findings.....................................................     3
III. Recommendations.............................................     3
IV. Origins and History..........................................     5
  Uprising.......................................................     5
  Radical Reemergence............................................     5
V. From ``Aspiration'' to the U.S. Homeland......................     6
  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).......................     7
  Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)................................     9
VI. Evolution and Collaboration..................................    11
  Changing Tactics and Targets: Suicide Bombers and Western 
    Targets......................................................    11
  Collaboration with AQIM and al Shabaab.........................    12
  A General's Warning............................................    14
  Potential Future Targets: Energy and Aviation Sectors..........    15
VII. Communications and Media....................................    17
  Martyrdom Videos...............................................    17
  Internet Forums................................................    18
VIII. Options for U.S. Engagement................................    20
  Military and Intelligence Support..............................    20
  Diplomatic Engagement..........................................    22
  Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Designation...............    23
IX. Conclusion...................................................    24
                            I. INTRODUCTION

    On August 26, 2011, a suicide bomber drove a vehicle-borne 
improvised explosive device (VBIED) into the United Nations 
(U.N.) headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 23 people and 
injuring more than 80 others.\1\ Responsibility for the 
bombing, one of the deadliest in the United Nations' history, 
was claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamist religious sect turned 
insurgent group based in the predominantly Muslim northern 
Nigeria. While this attack occurred inside Nigerian borders, it 
was the first time Boko Haram had targeted an international, 
non-Nigerian entity.
    \1\ ``Nigeria UN bomb: Video of `Boko Haram' bomber released,'' BBC 
News, September 18, 2011. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
    The attack marked a significant shift in the targeting and 
goals of the group, largely unknown to the U.S. Intelligence 
Community, and capped off an evolution in the capabilities of 
Boko Haram, beginning in the mid-2000s, from attacks with 
poisoned arrows and machetes to sophisticated car bombings.\2\ 
In a video that surfaced in Nigeria in the weeks following the 
U.N. bombing, the perpetrator of the attack described the 
United Nations as a forum for ``all global evil'' and stated 
the attacks were designed to ``send a message to the U.S. 
President and `other infidels.' ''\3\
    \2\ ``Islamist attacks in Nigeria: A taste of the Taliban,'' The 
Economist, July 31, 2009. Available at: http://www.economist.com/node/
    \3\ BBC News, supra note 1.
    According to Ambassador Anthony Holmes, Deputy to the 
Commander for Civil-Military Activities (DCMA) of United States 
Africa Command (AFRICOM), members of Boko Haram are being 
trained by Al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb 
(AQIM).\4\ They are also believed to have ties to the Somalian 
militant group al Shabaab.\5\ This cooperation, combined with 
the increased sophistication of attacks executed by Boko Haram, 
have led to concerns from the U.S. Intelligence Community over 
the sect's intent and capability to strike Western targets in 
Nigeria, throughout Africa, and most importantly, the U.S. 
    \4\ Al Qaeda-linked group finds fertile territory in Nigeria as 
killings escalate,'' Paul Cruickshank and Tom Lister, CNN, November 18, 
2011, pg. 2. Available at: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-11-18/africa/
    \5\ Ibid., 3.
    Historically, Boko Haram has been focused on Nigerian 
government targets. Until recently, Western intelligence 
services did not widely view Boko Haram as a potential threat. 
Even after the U.N. attack, Nigerian experts remain skeptical 
about Boko Haram's intent and capability to strike U.S. 
interests and the homeland.
    However, in the recent past, the U.S. Intelligence 
Community has underestimated the intent and capability of other 
terrorist groups to launch attacks against the U.S. homeland. 
The most notable recent examples include al Qaeda in the 
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), 
also known as the Pakistani Taliban. The U.S. Intelligence 
Community and outside counterterrorism and intelligence experts 
assessed that AQAP and TTP were regionally-based groups with a 
target set limited to Western supported governments or, at 
worst, American interests in the Middle East and South Asia. 
These assessments and general assumptions nearly proved fatal 
when a series of attempted attacks planned, directed, and 
executed by these two groups were thwarted on Christmas Day 
2009 on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit, and in May 
2010 in New York City's Times Square. Given the ability of 
these other groups to become operational with apparently meager 
resources, it would be prudent for the U.S. Government to 
thoroughly and carefully examine the extent of the threat from 
Boko Haram to the U.S. homeland.
    As Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. House of 
Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on 
Counterterrorism and Intelligence, it is our duty to examine 
all threats to the U.S. homeland. Boko Haram's recent 
escalation has prompted us to examine the group's potential, 
intent, and capability to attack United States interests and 
the U.S. homeland. This report will discuss the evolution of 
Boko Haram, its goals, and potential to commit acts of 
terrorism against U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland. This 
report will further discuss Nigerian counterterrorism 
capabilities, current U.S. diplomatic efforts, and future U.S. 
engagement and assistance options to assist the Nigerian 
government in countering the threat posed by Boko Haram. It is 
our hope that the conclusions in this report will raise 
awareness about the emerging threat posed by Boko Haram.
    This report is based on open source information and 
extensive unclassified briefings from Government and non-
Government entities. However, it should be noted that because 
of the speed with which Boko Haram has evolved as a terrorist 
group, little is known about the sect. Information is murky and 
academic research is limited. This report attempts to shed 
light on Boko Haram and the emerging threat it poses to U.S. 
interests and the homeland. To the extent this report spurs 
additional scholarship and intelligence collection, the U.S. 
Government will benefit and the American people will be safer.

Patrick Meehan
Chairman                            Jackie Speier
                                    Ranking Member

                              II. FINDINGS

1.  Boko Haram has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat 
        to U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland.
2.  Boko Haram has the intent and may be developing capability 
        to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level 
        with al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb 
        (AQIM) and al Shabaab.
3.  Boko Haram's evolution in targeting and tactics closely 
        tracks that of other al-Qaeda affiliates that have 
        targeted the U.S. homeland, most notably Al Qaeda in 
        the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Tehrik-i-Taliban 
        Pakistan (TTP).
4.  The U.S. Intelligence Community largely underestimated the 
        potential for al-Qaeda affiliate groups to target the 
        U.S. homeland, wrongly assessing they had only regional 
        ambitions and threats against the U.S. homeland were 
        merely ``aspirational.''
5.  The United States should work with the Government of 
        Nigeria to build counterterrorism and intelligence 
        capability to effectively counter Boko Haram.

                          III. RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. Do Not Underestimate Boko Haram's Intent and Capability 
to Attack the U.S. Homeland.--As this report makes clear, the 
U.S. Intelligence Community has recently underestimated the 
intent and capability of terrorist groups to strike the 
homeland, most notably Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 
and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These underestimations had 
near-deadly consequences on Christmas Day 2009 over Detroit and 
in May 2010 in Times Square.
    3. Determine Whether Boko Haram Should be Designated a 
Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).--The Secretary of State 
should conduct an investigation into whether Boko Haram should 
be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, in accordance 
with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 
as amended. Following the Boko Haram attack on the United 
Nations (U.N.) headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, we wrote to 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an investigation 
to determine whether FTO designation was necessary. In light of 
Boko Haram's continued escalation, FTO designation may be 
required to provide our intelligence and law enforcement 
communities the tools necessary to ensure Boko Haram does not 
attack U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland.
    3. Increase U.S. Intelligence Community Collection on Boko 
Haram.--The U.S. Intelligence Community must increase its 
intelligence collection on Boko Haram, including human 
intelligence (HUMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). It 
must also enhance its liaison relationship with Nigerian 
security services and help build their capacity to combat the 
threat posed by Boko Haram to Nigerian and U.S. interests.
    4. Conduct Outreach with Nigerian Diaspora Communities in 
the United States.--The U.S. Government should develop 
relationships with Nigerian diaspora communities in the United 
States to learn more about Boko Haram and the factors driving 
its evolution, intent, capability, and targeting. Through 
familial and personal relationships, diaspora communities in 
the United States provide a unique and invaluable perspective 
on their home country.
    5. Increase U.S. Government Support for Nigerian 
Counterterrorism and Intelligence Programs.--The U.S. 
Government should increase its support for programs that 
enhance the ability of Nigerian security forces to more 
effectively target Boko Haram and counter its evolution. The 
U.S. and Nigerian governments should also work more closely to 
increase intelligence collection.

                        IV. ORIGINS AND HISTORY


    ``Boko Haram,'' which in the local Hausa language means 
``Western education is forbidden,'' officially calls itself 
``Jama'atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda'wati wal Jihad,'' which means 
``people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's 
teachings and jihad.''\6\ Though the origins of Boko Haram are 
murky, the group was not founded as a violent insurgency bent 
on overthrowing the Nigerian government. Founded in the mid-
1990s as a religious study group, Boko Haram did not begin to 
transform into the insurgent group it is today until a young 
and charismatic Nigerian civil service employee named Mohammed 
Yusuf assumed control. Calling themselves the Nigerian Taliban, 
Boko Haram adopted a ``live-off-the land'' lifestyle and 
established a camp in a remote area of northeast Nigeria, which 
the group dubbed ``Afghanistan.''\7\
    \6\ ``Boko Haram,'' Toni Johnson, Council on Foreign Relations, 
November 7, 2011. Available at: http://www.cfr.org/africa/boko-haram/
    \7\ ``Boko Haram: History, ideas, and revolt [2].'' Shehu Sani, The 
Guardian, July 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.guardiannewsngr.com/
index.php?option=com_content&view=article&- id=53730:boko-haramhistory-
    From 2002-2009, Boko Haram engaged in low-level conflict 
with local police forces and non-compliant villagers. In 2009, 
a crackdown on Boko Haram members from Nigerian police forces 
in Borno state erupted into fighting. On July 26, 2009, sect 
members launched an attack against a police station in Bauchi 
state, resulting in the death of 39 Boko Haram members, two 
police officers, and one soldier.\8\ This ignited a 5-day 
stand-off between Boko Haram and security personnel that saw 
violent attacks and battles spread across four northern 
Nigerian states: Bauchi, Kano, and Yobe, culminating in a final 
battle in the city of Maiduguri in Borno state.
    \8\ ``Boko Haram: History, ideas, and revolt [4].'' Shehu Sani, 
Vanguard, July 8, 2011. Available at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/
    On July 30, 2009, the battle of Maiduguri ended when 
Nigerian security forces captured and killed Boko Haram's 
leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in what human rights groups have deemed 
an extrajudicial killing. Yusuf's execution was videotaped by 
soldiers and later broadcast on television.\9\ In total, nearly 
700 people were killed in the uprising. The death of Yusuf 
marked a turning point for the Boko Haram. It was forced 
underground and many of its leaders reportedly fled to other 
parts of Nigeria, including Bauchi state, as well as 
neighboring countries.\10\
    \9\ ``Boko Haram: History, ideas, and revolt [5].'' Shehu Sani, 
Vanguard, July 7, 2011. Available at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/
    \10\ ``Nigeria Conflict Assessment,'' USAID, August 2011, pg. 39.

                          Radical Reemergence

    In 2010, Boko Haram re-emerged radically more violent and 
determined to seek vengeance against the Nigerian state for 
executing its leader. Under the leadership of Imam Abubakar 
Shekau, who claimed to have assumed control of the sect 
following the death of Mohammed Yusuf, Boko Haram militants 
carried out violent operations against government targets in 
the north. The most notable include an assault on a Maiduguri 
prison that resulted in the release of 700 prisoners, including 
Boko Haram members, and a bombing in the city of Jos that 
killed more than 80 people. Significantly, the targeting of the 
Nigerian capital city of Abuja represented an evolving target 
set outside of Northern Nigeria. In June 2011, Boko Haram 
militants bombed the police headquarters in Abuja, and finally, 
carried out the suicide attack against the Abuja U.N. 
headquarters 2 months later.
    A number of factors have been attributed to fueling Boko 
Haram's violence and fanaticism, including a feeling of 
alienation from the wealthier, Christian, oil-producing, 
southern Nigeria, pervasive poverty, rampant government 
corruption, heavy-handed security measures, and the belief that 
relations with the West are a corrupting influence. These 
grievances have led to sympathy among the local Muslim 
population despite Boko Haram's violent tactics.\11\
    \11\ ``In Nigeria's northeast, some sympathy for Islamists,'' Joe 
Brock, Reuters, November 14, 2011. Available at: http://in.reuters.com/
    Residents in northern Nigeria live in extreme poverty. In 
Maiduguri, most residents live on less than $2 a day.\12\ 
Shettima Khalifa Dikwa, chairman of the Voters Forum at the 
University of Maiduguri, blamed the government and heavy 
security practices for the growing public sympathy toward Boko 
Haram. ``If it escalates it is the fault of the government and 
JTF (Joint Task Force). You can't have JTF searching your 
house, invading your privacy, mistreating people without you 
having sympathy for Boko Haram.''\13\ These grievances and the 
failure of the government to effectively address them serve as 
a key recruiting tool for Boko Haram.
    \12\ Ibid.
    \13\ Ibid.
    Boko Haram's desire to rid northern Nigeria of these 
problems serves as the primary motives behind their stated 
ambition to implement Sharia Law and establish an Islamic 
state.\14\ Sharia Law currently exists in 12 out of 36 Nigerian 
states as the result of a grassroots movement that coincided 
with Nigeria's transition to democracy in 1999.\15\
    \14\ Johnson, supra note 6.
    \15\ Ibid.
    A consistent lack of reliable reporting on Boko Haram has 
contributed to the difficulty in assessing its size, makeup, 
and goals. Boko Haram operates out of Maiduguri, the capital 
city of Borno state in northeast Nigeria bordered by Chad, 
Cameroon, and Niger. The group's membership is elusive. Some 
describe the ``core Boko Haram'' as the immediate followers of 
the late sect leader Mohammed Yusuf. However, others consider 
Boko Haram to be more of a ``grassroots insurrection,'' or an 
``amorphous cloud'' that has emerged from the larger context of 
Muslim grievances and frustration with the government.


    Boko Haram's activities over the last 2 years mark an 
escalation in the frequency and violence of its attacks. On 
February 10, 2011, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) 
James Clapper delivered the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the 
U.S. Intelligence Community and stated that Boko Haram was 
``focused on local issues. [and] may be pursuing interests it 
shares with AQIM.''\16\ Boko Haram's activities since then mark 
an escalation in the frequency and violence of its attacks and 
an emboldened Boko Haram should warrant enhanced scrutiny from 
the U.S. Intelligence Community.
    \16\ ``Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment 
for the U.S. Intelligence Community,'' James R. Clapper, Director of 
National Intelligence, February 10, 2011, pg. 18. Available at: http://
    In order to properly gauge the true threat Boko Haram will 
pose to U.S. interests and potentially the U.S. homeland in the 
future, it may be useful to examine two other groups whose 
rapid expansion in capabilities and apparent evolution in 
targeting and goals took the United States by surprise. Al 
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Tehrik-i-Taliban 
Pakistan (TTP), both newly formed groups, were viewed by the 
U.S. Intelligence Community and outside experts as regionally 
focused and content to launch strikes against their home 
governments and Western interests in the region. In both cases, 
the Intelligence Community--and the country--were caught off 
guard when attacks were launched by AQAP and TTP against the 
U.S. homeland. The rapid evolution of Boko Haram as a threat 
shares certain characteristics with AQAP and TTP; an 
examination of the rise of these two groups may be useful in 
projecting the future threat of Boko Haram.

                Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

    In January 2009, the al-Qaeda branches in Saudi Arabia and 
Yemen merged into Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.\17\ The 
creation of AQAP concerned U.S. intelligence officials, but the 
widely-held assessment was that AQAP intended to target the 
Saudi Arabian monarchy, the Yemeni government, and U.S. 
interests in the Gulf region. Twice in the months prior to the 
merger that created AQAP, the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a was 
attacked. Still, the U.S. Intelligence Community did not assess 
there was serious intent nor capability to launch attacks on 
American soil.
    \17\ ``Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula,'' National 
Counterterrorism Center website. Available at: http://www.nctc.gov/
    In August 2009, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive 
device hidden inside his body in an attempt to assassinate the 
Saudi Arabian Assistant Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayef. 
It was a brazen plot that came close to killing a top U.S. 
terrorism ally, and represented AQAP's boldest terrorist 
attempt since the merger. It also signaled a quick evolution in 
sophistication of targeting and bomb-making.
    On November 5, 2009, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan 
opened fire on fellow soldiers at the Fort Hood Army base in 
Texas, killing 13 and wounding more than 30.\18\ In the 
subsequent investigation, it was revealed that before the 
attack, Major Hasan corresponded via email with the future 
operational leader of AQAP, American-born cleric Anwar al-
Awlaki.\19\ Major Hasan's contact with al-Awlaki served as an 
inspiration for the Fort Hood terrorist attack. This became the 
first incident in which an AQAP and al-Awlaki inspired attack 
took place on U.S. soil.
    \18\ ``Fort Hood Suspect Yells Nidal Hasan's Name in Court,'' 
Pierre Thomas, Martha Raddatz, Rhonda Scwartz, Jason Ryan, ABC News, 
July 29, 2011. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fort-
    \19\ Ibid. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American-born Muslim cleric of 
Yemeni descent. He was an imam at mosques in San Diego, CA and Falls 
Church, VA where it was suspected that he had ties to three of the 9/11 
hijackers. After 9/11, he denounced the attacks and emerged as a voice 
of moderation within the Muslim community. This changed in 2002 when he 
left the United States for London and eventually Yemen, where he became 
a proponent of militant Islam and encouraged attacks against Americans. 
He came to be viewed by many in the U.S. Intelligence Community as a 
greater threat to the United States than Osama bin Laden. On September 
30, 2011, al-Awlaki was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen, after a 
2-year manhunt.
    A little over 1 month later, on Christmas Day 2009, Umar 
Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim and the son of a 
prominent Nigerian government official, attempted to detonate a 
bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 destined for Detroit. As 
the Airbus A330 with 289 people on board approached Detroit, 
Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his 
underwear. When he failed to successfully detonate the 
explosive, passengers and flight crew quickly subdued him.\20\ 
AQAP quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and promised 
that more attacks would follow.\21\
    \20\ ``The Radicalization of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.'' Mark 
Hosenball, Newsweek, January 1, 2010. Available at: http://
    \21\ ``Al-Qaeda link investigated as clues emerge in foiled terror 
attack,'' CNN, December 28, 2009, pg. 2. Available at: http://
    Similar to the Fort Hood case, the subsequent investigation 
revealed that Abdulmutallab had direct ties to AQAP, travelling 
to Yemen for instruction and deployment at a terrorist training 
camp.\22\ The attack caught the U.S. Intelligence Community off 
guard as they did not believe AQAP had neither the intent nor 
capability to deploy militants to the United States to strike 
the U.S. homeland. During a press conference following the 
Flight 253 bombing attempt, John O. Brennan, Assistant to the 
President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism stated: 
``The fact that they [AQAP] had moved forward to try to execute 
this attack against the homeland I think demonstrated to us--
and this is what the review sort of uncovered--that we had a 
strategic sense of sort of where they were going, but we didn't 
know they had progressed to the point of actually launching 
individuals here.''\23\
    \22\ ``Underwear Bomber: New video of Training, Martyrdom 
Statements,'' Matthew Cole, Brian Ross, and Nasser Atta, April 26, 
2010. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/underwear-bomber-
    \23\ ``Press Briefing by Napolitano, Brennan, and Gibbs on the 
attempted December 25, 2009 terrorist attack,'' Council on Foreign 
Relations, January 7, 2010. Available at: http://www.cfr.org/terrorism/
When Mr. Brennan was asked when it had become known that AQAP 
intended to attack the United States, he explained:

        ``In the intelligence that we have acquired, over the 
        past several years it's been rather aspirational. It 
        has said things, it has promoted a certain view as far 
        as bringing the fight to us, but all of their 
        activities, at least that we were focused on, were 
        happening in Yemen. They carried attacks against Prince 
        Mohammed bin Nayef in Saudi Arabia, against Saudi 
        targets, inside of Yemen, against Yemeni as well as 
        against U.S. targets. So it was aspirational. We saw 
        that there was this mounting sort of drumbeat of 
        interest in trying to get individuals to carry out 
        attacks. That was the fragmentary information.

        ``And so in hindsight now--and 20/20 hindsight always 
        gives you much better opportunity to see it--we saw the 
        plot was developing, but at the time we did not know in 
        fact that they were talking about sending Mr. 
        Abdulmutallab to the United States.

        ``Now, remember, Mr. Abdulmutallab was a much different 
        story in terms of a Nigerian who traveled to Yemen and 
        then came over here. But what it clearly indicates is 
        that there is a seriousness of purpose on the part of 
        al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to carry out attacks 
        here in the United States--whether they're reaching 
        people through the Internet, or whether or not, in 
        fact, they are sending people abroad.''\24\
    \24\ Ibid.

On January 19, 2010, 3 weeks after the Christmas Day attempted 
attack, the Department of State officially declared AQAP as a 
foreign terrorist organization (FTO).\25\
    \25\ ``Designations of Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 
and Senior Leaders,'' Philip J. Crowley, U.S. Department of State Press 
Release, January 19, 2010.

                    Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

    Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, more commonly referred to as TTP 
or the Pakistani Taliban, was formed in 2007 as an alliance of 
militant groups dedicated to waging jihad against the Pakistani 
military and government and fighting to expel U.S. and NATO 
forces from Afghanistan.\26\ They carried out numerous large-
scale attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and are reportedly 
tied to the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir 
Bhutto in December 2007.\27\ The TTP actively targets U.S. 
interests in Pakistan, including NATO supply lines, and has 
conducted multiple assaults on the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, 
among other American targets.
    \26\ ``Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).'' National Counterterrorism 
Center profile. Available at: http://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/ttp.html.
    \27\ Ibid.
    Despite their aggressive targeting of U.S. and NATO troops 
and facilities, the U.S. Intelligence Community assessed that 
TTP was a regional--and not a homeland--threat. \28\ While the 
evolution of tactics by TTP did evoke concern among U.S. 
counterterrorism officials, the notion that the TTP would 
strike the homeland was dismissed by the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation (FBI). Even after TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud 
made threats against the White House in 2009, the FBI said in 
an emailed statement:
    \28\ See footnotes 29 and 30. ``The Taliban's Threats,'' and ``From 
Strategy to Implementation: The Future of the U.S.-Pakistan 
Relationship.'' Available at: Available at: http://

        ``The FBI is aware of the claims made by Baitullah 
        Mehsud. He has made similar threats to the U.S. in the 
        past and we deem these new statements as aspirational . 
        . . ''\29\
    \29\ ``The Taliban's Threats,'' Mark Hosenball, The Daily Beast, 
March 31, 2009. Available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/

    On May 5, 2009, the State Department Special Representative 
for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the late Ambassador Richard 
Holbrooke, reiterated this belief in response to a question 
during testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

        ``In regard to al Qaeda, I think it is very well-
        described in an article in this morning's New York 
        Times where a Taliban spokesman said we do the local 
        war against the Americans, al Qaeda does the global 
    \30\ ``From Strategy to Implementation: The Future of the U.S.-
Pakistan Relationship,'' U.S. House of Representatives Committee on 
Foreign Affairs hearing, May 5, 2009.

    On May 1, 2010, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born naturalized 
U.S. citizen, drove a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder 4x4 loaded with 
propane, gasoline, and fertilizer into New York City's Times 
Square.\31\ Shahzad failed to successfully detonate the 
explosives before a street vendor alerted the New York Police 
Department (NYPD) about the abandoned, smoking vehicle. 
Following an intense manhunt by Federal, State, and local law 
enforcement agencies, Shahzad was caught 2 days later 
attempting to flee at John F. Kennedy International Airport 
onboard a departing flight to Dubai.
    \31\ ``Profile: Faisal Shahzad,'' BBC News, October 5, 2010. 
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11475789.
    In the subsequent Federal investigation, it was discovered 
that Shahzad had purchased the car and explosive materials 
through funding provided to him by the TTP. He received a total 
of $12,000 in two separate cash payments through hawalas in 
Massachusetts and New York, which was sent from a TTP militant 
in Pakistan to carry out the attack. During questioning 
following his arrest, Shahzad confessed to traveling to 
Waziristan, Pakistan in December 2009 to receive explosives 
training from members of the TTP at a terrorist training camp, 
after which he received an additional $4,000.\32\
    \32\ ``Pakistani Taliban helped Faisal Shahzad, it's not on U.S. 
list of terrorists?'' Liam Stack, The Christian Science Monitor, June 
23, 2010. Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-
    Notably, the State Department did not designate the TTP as 
a FTO until September 2010, 4 months after the attempted Times 
Square attack.\33\ In summarizing the explanation given by an 
unnamed senior counterterrorism official as to why the TTP was 
not labeled a FTO sooner, Newsweek magazine wrote: ``Until 
relatively recently, the TTP was thought to be targeting the 
Pakistani government exclusively--not the United States--and 
State Department officials were reluctant to intrude on what 
was largely regarded as an internal Pakistani problem.''\34\
    \33\ ``Pakistan Taliban given FTO designation,'' UPI.com Special 
Reports, September 2, 2010. Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/
    \34\ ``U.S. Weighs Official `Terrorist Organization' Status for the 
Pakistani Taliban,'' Michael Isikoff, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, May 
11, 2010. Available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/
    In the aftermath of the AQAP and TTP attempted attacks, the 
U.S. Intelligence Community admitted to underestimating the 
potential of these two groups to launch attacks against the 
homeland. The United States cannot afford to miscalculate Boko 
Haram's intent and capability to strike the homeland. The 
evolution of Boko Haram clearly illustrates it is a group with 
fast-growing ambitions. It is important for the U.S. 
Intelligence Community to stay ahead of Boko Haram in an effort 
to thwart a potential attack against the homeland.


    Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the rise of Boko Haram 
in Nigeria is the reports of increasing collaboration between 
the group and al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb 
(AQIM) and al Shabaab. The rapid evolution of Boko Haram may 
point to the sharing of weapons and expertise among various 
terrorist organizations across the African continent.

   Changing Tactics and Targets: Suicide Bombers and Western Targets

    There has been a significant shift in Boko Haram's targets, 
tactics, and geographic reach, particularly in the last year. 
The use of a suicide VBIED on the Abuja police barracks in June 
2011 marked the first time on record a suicide attack was 
carried out in Nigeria. The bomb used was large enough to 
destroy 40 other vehicles in the parking lot, and it 
demonstrated the sect's ability to launch attacks outside of 
its traditional area of operations in the north, proving that 
they were now capable of targeting the capital.\35\
    \35\ ``The Rising Threat from Nigeria's Boko Haram Militant 
Group,'' Scott Stewart, STRATFOR Global Intelligence, November 10, 
2011. Available at: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20111109-rising-
    Boko Haram's traditional targets had been those affiliated 
with the Nigerian state. Past targets include police stations, 
army barracks, banks, churches, markets, teachers, and 
universities. Boko Haram has also attacked beer drinkers, card 
players, and those engaging in activities that they deem as un-
Islamic.\36\ The sect has also conducted targeted 
assassinations against religious and political leaders, 
particularly those individuals who have challenged or spoken 
out against the group or allied themselves with the government 
of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan. Before their recent 
bombing campaign, Boko Haram's signature tactic was drive-by 
shootings and bombings from motorbikes.\37\
    \36\ ``The Rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria,'' David Cook, CTC 
Sentinel, September 2011, pg. 4.
    \37\ Ibid.
    The suicide attack launched against the U.N. headquarters 
in Abuja appears to be Boko Haram's first non-Nigerian, 
international target. The driver rammed the car into an exit 
gate and then drove into a parking garage before detonating the 
VBIED.\38\ This is significant because `` . . . the U.N. 
compound was located in the diplomatic district of Abuja, where 
numerous high-profile facilities are located, demonstrating 
that Boko Haram possessed the ability to spot a soft target 
amid harder targets like foreign embassies and government 
buildings.''\39\ The group also managed to successfully find 
and exploit the security gap at the exit gate. This indicates 
that some type of surveillance may have been conducted before 
the attack was launched.\40\
    \38\ Stewart, supra note 35.
    \39\ Ibid.
    \40\ Ibid.
    Some have described the attack on the U.N. headquarters as 
an attack driven against an entity that cooperates with the 
Nigerian government, and is by extension only targeting the 
Nigerian state. However, suicide attacks against Western 
targets working with the host government have in many instances 
marked the beginning of a new and advanced stage of insurgency. 
According to David Cook, writing for the West Point Combating 
Terrorism Center's CTC Sentinel, ``While the attack on the 
police General Headquarters can be seen as a continuation of 
Boko Haram's fixation upon the Nigerian police and army, the 
United Nations attack is much more in line with other [global 
terrorist] organizations, and is strongly reminiscent of the 
suicide attack in Baghdad against the United Nations in August 
2003, which was one of the opening blows of the Iraqi 
    \41\ Cook, supra note 36, at 5.

                 Collaboration with AQIM and al Shabaab

    Boko Haram's evolving tactics and targeting may be the 
result of ties between AQIM in North Africa and al Shabaab in 
Somalia. Such cross-pollination of weapons, tactics, and bomb-
making expertise can quickly increase the capabilities of 
terrorist groups, as seen in the Federally Administered Tribal 
Areas of Pakistan, and may have been a contributing factor to 
Boko Haram's advances. The Boko Haram leadership exile from 
Nigeria following the 2009 security forces crackdown may have 
also contributed. Members of Boko Haram appear to have 
connections in Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Sudan, and it is 
believed that the sect has also purchased weapons in some of 
these countries.\42\ These connections highlight the mobility 
and transnational nature of Boko Haram's operations.
    \42\ USAID, supra note 10.
    Al-Qaeda militants operating in Nigeria is not 
unprecedented. In 2004, the Nigerian government charged 
Mohammed Ashafa, a Nigerian national claiming to be operating 
an al-Qaeda cell.\43\ These charges included receiving money 
from al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan for the purposes of 
recruiting and training terrorists to attack Americans in 
Nigeria.\44\ In 2008, former police inspector-general, Mike 
Okiro, claimed that he had recovered evidence revealing a plot 
by bin Laden to conduct a bombing within Nigeria.\45\ The rise 
of Boko Haram as a terrorist group in Nigeria may serve as a 
means by which al-Qaeda can infiltrate Nigeria. Moreover, a 
recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center's Global 
Attitudes Projects on Muslim favorability toward bin Laden 
showed Nigerian Muslims as uniquely favorable to bin Laden and 
al-Qaeda. Throughout the past decade, Muslim populations have 
discredited bin Laden and al-Qaeda. However, unlike their 
counterparts elsewhere in the world, just under half--49 
percent--of all Nigerian Muslims polled expressed more 
favorable views toward bin Laden and al-Qaeda in 2010.\46\
    \43\ ``Bin Laden and Nigeria,'' Paul Ohia, This Day Live, May 3, 
2011. Available at: http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/bin-laden-and-
    \44\ Ibid.
    \45\ Ibid.
    \46\ ``Osama bin Laden Largely Discredited Among Muslim Publics in 
Recent Years,'' Pew Global Attitudes Project, May 2, 2011. Available 
at: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1977/poll-osama-bin-laden-death-
    Over the past year, in response to successful 
counterterrorism crackdowns by North African governments, AQIM 
has reportedly been extending its operations into Mauritania, 
Mali, and Niger, among other places. Evidence has surfaced 
suggesting that AQIM is making a focused attempt to extend its 
area of operations and sphere of influence into the Sahel and 
sub-Saharan Africa. In August 2011, a video surfaced showing 
two Westerners who were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria by 
AQIM. While kidnappings for ransom are not a new strategy for 
AQIM, extending their reach into Nigeria represents a marked 
expansion of geographic reach in kidnapping operations.\47\
    \47\ ``Al-Qaeda's North African Franchise Moves South,'' Dr. J. 
Peter Pham, The Atlantic Council, August 5, 2011. Available at: http://
    As AQIM has moved south, it has reportedly become involved 
in drug trafficking and cultivated alliances with criminal 
organizations in the Sahel to expand its reach and enhance its 
operational capacity. According to Dr. J. Peter Pham, this 
strategy is, in effect, the ``subcontracting'' of operations to 
local militant groups.\48\ As Mohammed Mokaddem, an Algerian 
journalist and author of a recent book about AQIM stated: 
``[AQIM] has never hidden its ambition to bring in the 
Islamists of Nigeria in particular at the very moment when 
sectarian strife and conflict between Muslims and Christians is 
on the rise.''\49\ U.S. intelligence officials have also 
suspected that AQIM operatives were extending their reach 
southward. Three years ago, in the 2008 Annual Threat 
Assessment from the U.S. Intelligence Community, AQIM's reach 
into Nigeria was clear: ``AQIM traditionally has operated in 
Algeria and northern Mali and has recruited and trained an 
unknown, but probably small, number of extremists from Tunisia, 
Morocco, Nigeria, Mauritania, Libya, and other countries.''\50\
    \48\ Ibid.
    \49\ Ibid.
    \50\ ``Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for 
the Senate Armed Services Committee,'' J. Michael McConnell, Office of 
the Director of National Intelligence, February 27, 2008, pg. 6. 
Available at: http://www.dni.gov/testimonies/20080227_testimony.pdf.
    African governments have been open about their concerns 
regarding Boko Haram and AQIM collaboration. In November 2011, 
the Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister, Abdelkader Messahel, 
issued a public warning that Algerian intelligence found 
evidence of cooperation between Boko Haram and AQIM. ``We have 
no doubts that coordination exists between Boko Haram and al-
Qaeda. The way both groups operate and intelligence reports 
show there is cooperation.''\51\ Algeria's public 
acknowledgement of cooperation between Boko Haram and AQIM is 
significant. Algeria currently serves as AQIM's base of 
operations and the Algerian government conducts the largest 
intelligence-gathering operation on AQIM of any country in 
    \51\ ``Algeria says Nigeria's Boko Haram tied to al Qaeda,'' 
Reuters, MSNBC, November 13, 2011. Available at: http://
    \52\ Ibid.
    Boko Haram has also been reportedly collaborating with al 
Shabaab, an al-Qaeda linked militant Islamist group in Somalia 
and a U.S. State Department designated FTO. It has been 
reported that some members of Boko Haram have trained in 
Somalia as al Shabaab has made an effort in recent years to 
recruit outsiders in both Africa and the United States. Despite 
being involved in a civil war, al Shabaab has launched attacks 
outside of Somalia, most notably twin suicide nightclub 
bombings during the World Cup in Kampala, Uganda on July 11, 
    \53\ ``Al-Shabaab,'' National Counterterrorism Center profile. 
Available at: http://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/al_shabaab.html.
    Skeptics of Boko Haram's ties to al Shabaab cite the fact 
that both groups are concerned mainly with their respective 
countries. Somalia and Nigeria are on opposite ends of the 
continent, making the long distance between them a hindrance to 
cooperation. However, members of Boko Haram's leadership have 
studied in Saudi Arabia and desire to build relationships with 
other extremists outside Nigeria. \54\ Most importantly, 
however, Boko Haram has admitted to establishing links in 
Somalia. A statement allegedly released by the sect read, 
``Very soon, we will wage jihad . . . We want to make it known 
that our jihadists have arrived in Nigeria from Somalia where 
they received real training on warfare from our brethren who 
made that country ungovernable . . . This time round, our 
attacks will be fiercer and wider than they have been.''\55\
    \54\ USAID, supra note 10.
    \55\ ``From Somalia to Nigeria: Jihad,'' Katherine Zimmerman, The 
Weekly Standard, June 18, 2011. Available at: http://

                          A General's Warning

    On August 17, 2011, U.S. Army General Carter F. Ham, 
Commander of AFRICOM called attention to Boko Haram's expanding 
ambitions, telling the Associated Press that intelligence 
indicated Boko Haram had made contact with operatives from both 
AQIM and al Shabaab:

        ``What is most worrying at present is, at least in my 
        view, a clearly stated intent by Boko Haram and by al 
        Qaeda 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.''\56\
    \56\ ``Nigeria's Boko Haram: Al-Qaeda's New Friend in Africa?'' 
Karen Leigh, TIME Magazine. August 17, 2011. Available at: http://

    On June 14, 2010, AQIM leader Abu Musab Abd al-Wadoud, also 
known as Abdelmalik Droukdel, told al-Jazeera that his group 
would provide Boko Haram with weapons, support, and 
training.\57\ Since those comments, there have been public 
reports that Boko Haram fighters have been seen training in 
AQIM camps.\58\
    \57\ Stewart, supra note 35.
    \58\ Stewart, supra note 35.
    In August 2011, one week before the U.N. bombing in August, 
Nigerian authorities arrested two Boko Haram militants. The 
detainees, who were still in custody after the U.N. bombing, 
allegedly told Nigerian investigators that another Boko Haram 
member, Mamman Nur, had led the attack. Nur reportedly has 
links to al-Qaeda and had recently returned from Somalia.\59\
    \59\ ``Nigeria says Boko Haram, al Qaeda link behind U.N. attack,'' 
Camillus Eboh, Reuters, August 31, 2011. Available at: http://
    In September 2011, European Union Counterterrorism 
Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove warned of collaboration between 
the two groups: ``There is still nothing structural. There are 
efforts at contacts, and small transfers of money. It seems 
that some members of Boko Haram and al Shabaab were trained by 
AQIM.''\60\ The increasing sophistication of the attacks seems 
to support Mr. de Kerchove's belief that Boko Haram militants 
have received training and weapons from AQIM. Moreover, 
purported leaders of the sect have publically praised Osama bin 
Laden and al-Qaeda. Some reports suggest the bombing may have 
been a message from Boko Haram to AQIM signaling its desire to 
cooperate in terrorist operations.\61\
    \60\ ``EU official warns of spreading al-Qaida offshoot,'' Jorge 
Benitez, NATO Source Alliance News Blog, The Atlantic Council, 
September 9, 2011. Available at: http://www.acus.org/natosource/eu-
    \61\ Leigh, supra note 56.
    Greater than the threat of any two of these groups 
collaborating would be the threat of all three collaborating 
together. AFRICOM Commander General Ham warned that while he 
doubts the ability of Boko Haram, AQIM, and al Shabaab to carry 
out attacks against the United States directly at the moment, 
he does not doubt their intent to do so. General Ham has warned 
about the potential for a transnational terrorist network to 
develop in Africa if the rising threat potential of these three 
groups is left unchecked:

        ``Each of those three independently, I think, presents 
        a significant threat not only in the nations in which 
        they primarily operate but regionally and . . . to the 
        United States. Those three organizations have very 
        explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target 
        Westerners and the U.S. specifically. . . . If left 
        unaddressed, then you could have a network that ranges 
        from East Africa through the center and into the Sahel 
        and Maghreb, and I think that would be very, very 
    \62\ ``African Islamist group seen as U.S. threat--general,'' David 
Alexander, Reuters, September 15, 2011. Available at: http://

    Recently, a statement from a purported spokesman for Boko 
Haram, Abul Qaqa, appeared to validate the concerns of General 
Ham and others. On November 24, 2011, Abul Qaqa admitted that 
the sect does receive assistance from al-Qaeda, presumably 
AQIM, stating: ``It is true that we have links with al Qaeda. 
They assist us and we assist them.''\63\
    \63\ ``Boko Haram claims al-Qaeda links,'' News24, November 24, 
2011. Available at: http://m.news24.com/news24/Africa/News/Boko-Haram-

          Potential Future Targets: Energy and Aviation Sector

    Nigeria has proven reserves of up to 36 billion barrels of 
oil, the 10th largest in the world.\64\ It is the largest oil 
producer in Africa and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to 
the United States. As of August 2011, the United States was 
importing 854,000 barrels of oil per day from Nigeria.\65\ In 
2010, this amounted to 43 percent of Nigeria's total petroleum 
exports and 8 percent of total U.S. petroleum imports.\66\ 
Nigeria also exports a mostly sulfur-free sweet crude, which 
U.S. refineries prefer to the heavier oil imported from Persian 
Gulf and Caribbean sources.\67\ As a member of the Organization 
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria has proven 
that it can flex its economic muscle and impact global oil 
production. In short, disruptions to Nigerian oil production 
can impact domestic refining in the United States and affect 
global oil markets.
    \64\ ``Why Nigeria Matters,'' Dr. J. Peter Pham, New Atlanticist 
Blog, The Atlantic Council, April 4, 2011. Available at: http://
    \65\ ``Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries,'' 
U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 2011 data. Available at: 
    \66\ U.S. Energy Information Administration Nigeria Analysis. 
Available at: http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=NI.
    \67\ Pham, supra note 64.
    The Niger Delta, where most Nigerian oil production takes 
place, has a long history of instability and violence. 
Kidnappings, bombings, and attacks on oil facilities are 
routinely carried out by militant groups who feel 
disenfranchised and left out of the wealth that oil production 
generates. While these groups have been hesitant to inflict 
truly crippling damage against these facilities because they 
have some economic stake in them, Boko Haram, which is believed 
to have no financial interest in the plants, has no such 
reservations.\68\ Niger Delta militants have in the past cut 
Nigerian oil production significantly through sustained attacks 
on oil facilities.
    \68\ In the past, Boko Haram has carried out armed bank robberies 
and has distributed whatever money it has stolen to the general 
population rather than keeping it. While Niger Delta militants may rely 
on the theft of oil for their primary means of financing, Boko Haram's 
financing comes from different sources and would be less inclined to be 
concerned with the affects of production being completely shut down.
    In May 2007, protestors from the Ogoni tribe in the Niger 
Delta overran an oil pipeline, cutting Nigerian oil production 
by 30 percent.\69\ That same month, militants from the Movement 
for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), bombed three 
pipelines, decreasing oil production by 100,000 barrels a day 
for the Italian oil company Eni. This disruption caused oil 
prices to rise by 71 cents a barrel in New York.\70\ A well-
coordinated attack by Boko Haram could result in far worse 
damage, completely cutting off Nigerian oil production in a 
worst-case scenario. If that occurred, 8 percent of U.S. oil 
imports would be cut off, which could result in a spike in oil 
prices worldwide and soaring domestic gas prices.
    \69\ ``Nigerian Oil Production Falls After a Pipeline Hub is 
Overrun,'' Lydia Polgreen, The New York Times, May 16, 2007. Available 
at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/business/worldbusiness/
    \70\ Ibid.
    While Boko Haram is based in the north, recent reports 
indicate that Nigerian security services were searching for 
Boko Haram members who had allegedly infiltrated southern 
territory.\71\ Niger Delta militants also released a statement 
warning Boko Haram against any incursions into the Delta 
territory, vowing to join with security forces to drive them 
out if necessary.\72\ Given the vulnerability of Niger Delta 
oil facilities, and the potential powder keg of multiple 
militant factions squaring off against each other, Boko Haram's 
infiltration into this area should be closely monitored by the 
United States and allies.
    \71\ ``Boko Haram in the Niger Delta,'' John Campbell, Africa in 
Transition blog, September 19, 2011. Available at: http://
    \72\ ``Boko Haram: N-Delta militants volunteer to join forces with 
army,'' Emma Amaize, Sweet Crude Reports, September 20, 2011. Available 
at: http://sweetcrudereports.com/2011/09/21/boko-haram-n-
    As discussed previously, Boko Haram has already adopted 
many of al-Qaeda's targeting tactics. If Boko Haram continues 
this trend, Nigerian oil facilities will be in thecrosshairs. 
In 2006, al-Qaeda struck the Abqaiq oil facility in eastern 
Saudi Arabia. Abqaiq is one of the largest oil fields in the 
world with a capacity of 7 million barrels per day.\73\ 
According to open source intelligence, on February 24, 2006, 
two suicide bombers attempted to drive two cars loaded with 
explosives into the compound. This operation--and many others--
mirror recently adopted Boko Haram tactics, including the use 
of suicide bombers and multiple VBIED attacks.\74\
    \73\ ``The Impact of the Abqaiq Attack on Saudi Energy Security,'' 
Khalid R. Al-Rodhan, Center for Strategic and International Studies 
(CSIS), February 27, 2006, pg. 2. Available at: http://csis.org/files/
    \74\ Ibid.
    In September 2011, threats made by Boko Haram to bomb Lagos 
Airport prompted security officials to search all vehicles 
approaching the airport, causing major disruptions.\75\ 
Although aviation has not yet been a Boko Haram target, it is 
worth noting that Nigeria is a major destination for Western 
travelers. On August 26, 2000, the United States and Nigeria 
signed an open skies agreement to expand commercial aviation 
between them. This agreement established a direct flight from 
Lagos to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York 
City, easing air travel to and from Nigeria\76\ It is 
conceivable that Boko Haram may seek to take advantage of the 
tremendous volume of Western passenger traffic coming through 
Nigeria and the security vulnerabilities that volume creates.
    \75\ ``Bomb scare disrupts Lagos airport road activities,'' 
Emmanuel Chidiogo, DailyTimesNG, September 24, 2011. Available at: 
    \76\ ``Nigeria,'' Encyclopedia of the Nations. Available at: http:/
/www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Africa/Nigeria.html. The full 
text of the agreement, formally titled ``Air Transport Agreement 
between the Government of the United States of America and the 
Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,'' can be accessed on the 
Department of State's website: http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/rls/othr/ata/
    Following the attempted Christmas Day attack in 2009, 
investigations revealed that four full-body scanners given to 
Nigeria by the United States in 2008 had gone unused; top 
officials were found to have been unaware of their placement in 
Nigeria's four main airports.\77\ Nigerian airports began to 
use body scanners actively in 2010. The United States can 
assist Nigeria in improving security at its major airports 
through efforts such as providing full-body scanners and 
security training. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 
(ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) can train Nigerian 
immigration officials in how to more effectively identify 
individuals who can pose a threat to homeland security, process 
and admit foreign travelers, and share passenger name record 
information (PNR) to prevent another incident similar to 2009.
    \77\ ``U.S. scanners went unused at Nigeria airport,'' Associated 
Press, MSNBC, December 31, 2009. Available at: http://

                     VII. COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA

                            Martyrdom Videos

    On September 18, 2011, BBC News reported that Agence France 
Presse (AFP) news agency obtained two videos, each 25 minutes 
in length, of the Boko Haram U.N. bomber that had surfaced in 
Nigeria. Pictured holding an AK-47 rifle with two other people 
standing against a wall, the suicide bomber asked his family to 
understand his decision and explained that the bombing was 
designed to send a message to the ``U.S. President and `other 
infidels.' ''\78\ The man, whom an alleged Boko Haram spokesman 
identified as Mohammed Abul Barra from Maiduguri, also referred 
to the United Nations as a ``forum for all global evil'' and 
praised Osama bin Laden.\79\
    \78\ BBC News, supra note 1.
    \79\ Ibid.
    A BBC correspondent, Jonah Fischer, based in Nigeria, wrote 
in a brief analysis that the existence of these videos signals 
an elevation in the sophistication of Boko Haram's methods of 
communication. ``They show an organization which is far 
different from the local group fighting a tit-for-tat battle 
with the army and police in northern Nigeria,'' said Fischer. 
``This is another indication that this is now another beast, 
more international in its ambitions.''\80\ The correspondent 
also suggested that the sophistication of the U.N. attack and 
the use of more advanced communication methods may signal the 
support of outside help.
    \80\ ``Analysis--Nigeria UN bomb: Video of `Boko Haram' bomber 
released,'' Jonah Fisher, BBC News, September 18, 2011. Available at: 

                            Internet Forums

    Even more indicative of the growing sophistication and 
threat potential of Boko Haram is the group's increased use of 
internet forums. In July 2010, the alleged leader of Boko 
Haram, Imam Abubakar Shekau, issued an online statement 
praising al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and offered condolences for 
the recent killing of AQI members. In this statement, Shekau 
warned the United States, ``Don't think jihad is over. Rather, 
jihad has just begun. O America, die with your fury.''\81\ This 
statement coincided with an online presence the group developed 
in 2010.
    \81\ ``Suicide bomber hits UN office in Nigerian capital,'' Bill 
Roggio, The Long War Journal, August 26, 2011. Available at: http://
    According to a September 28, 2011 report published by the 
SITE Intelligence Group, Boko Haram had developed an increased 
online presence that ``seems to have contributed to the rapid 
increase in their strength.''\82\ According to the report, a 
representative of Boko Haram who went by the name ``Abu 
Sabaya'' began posting requests for help on the prominent 
jihadi forum Ansar al-Mijahideen English Forum (AMEF) in March 
2010. He has solicited advice on fundraising and Arabic 
translation programs and has sought information on how to 
hinder the operations of security services monitoring the sect.
    \82\ ``Boko Haram Representative Solicits Guidance and Assistance 
on Jihadist Forums,'' Rita Katz and Margaret Foster, SITE Intelligence 
Group, September 28, 2011, pg 1.
    The forums have provided fertile ground for raising 
interest in Boko Haram's cause, and providing possible 
fundraising and recruitment opportunities. One member, 
``Aydan,'' predicted that Nigeria would become a new front in 
the global jihad, writing, ``I guess a new front is about to 
open.''\83\ Abu Sabaya continued to post calls for help with 
the development of Boko Haram. In one post, he described the 
sect's efforts to build its propaganda and media capacity, 
stating: ``As for the media productions . . . we are rigorously 
working on them . . . we lack vibrant media experts in video 
production.''\84\ AMEF member Abu Hafs al-Gharib replied, 
suggesting that Boko Haram build links with an official jihadi 
media center, such as the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) or 
the al-Fajr Media Center. Linking with one or both of these 
centers would provide Boko Haram with much needed technical 
assistance and would also increase its legitimacy among the 
jihadi community. Linking with the official media centers was 
also the strategy al Shabaab adopted before it became a 
mainstream terror organization. In other posts written on 6 
October and 27 October, Abu Sabaya requested fundraising advice 
and sought guidance on enhancing organizational structure and 
    \83\ Ibid., 2 & 3.
    \84\ Ibid., 4.
    Encouraged by Abu Sabaya's posts, other AMEF members began 
calling for jihad in Nigeria. In response to one post, a member 
who goes by ``TheRealTruth'' stressed the need for fighters to 
travel to Nigeria now, because security services have not yet 
been effective in securing borders, writing: ``Sounds like a 
call! Where are the jealous sons of Islam to answer it! Right 
now its east [sic] to go to Nigeria, but may not be in the 
future . . . and another opportunity may slip us by!''\85\ 
Echoing warnings by General Ham, forum member Abu Hafs al-
Gharib responded by outlining a regional insurgency, stating: 
``Inshallah (Allah willing), Mujahideen from West Africa would 
be join with the brothers in Nigeria . . . jihad [will] spread 
out from North Africa, East Africa, West Africa and soon 
Central Africa . . . ''.\86\
    \85\ Ibid., 5.
    \86\ Ibid.
    Not only is Boko Haram soliciting advice from AMEF members, 
but its posts appear to verify growing links between the sect 
and AQIM. One member, ``Ansar AQIM,'' is an administrator and 
highly-regarded member of the forum. His posting history 
indicates that he has ties to AQIM. In an October 2010 post, he 
described links between Boko Haram and AQIM, claiming that AQIM 
commanders had arrived in Nigeria to train Boko Haram fighters. 
His full post read:

        ``The assistance from the commanders of Al-Qaida in the 
        Islamic Maghreb has reached Nigeria. I can't give any 
        numbers of how many brothers from the Sahel region 
        moved back to Nigeria to train the youth of the 
    \87\ Ibid., 6.

    According to the report, Abu Sabaya's updates during the 
spring and summer of 2011 ``described a much-emboldened 
group.''\88\ On July 25, 2011, he announced in a post that the 
sect had successfully recruited defectors from the Nigerian 
security forces after they were sent to subdue Boko Haram 
fighters. The frequency of Abu Sabaya's statements also 
increased, as he began to claim responsibility for attacks, 
showcasing the sect's increased activity and capabilities 
during the summer of 2011.
    \88\ Ibid.

                   VIII. OPTIONS FOR U.S. ENGAGEMENT

    The rise of the potential threat of Boko Haram poses a new 
challenge to United States interests in a region where 
significant threats to U.S. National security already exist. 
However, the United States has also been presented with a 
unique window of opportunity. If the United States acts quickly 
on the military, intelligence, and diplomatic fronts, it can 
ensure the relative protection of U.S. interests while 
assisting the Nigerian government in containing Boko Haram.
    Nigeria has a population of over 150 million people, making 
it Africa's most populous country. Nigeria also enjoys the 
continent's second-largest economy and has become a major 
regional player since transitioning from military to democratic 
rule in 1999. Nigeria's contributions to regional stability 
have not gone unnoticed in the United States. Speaking at an 
event in October 2011, General Ham noted, ``Nigeria is the 
leading country for most activities in West Africa, in the Gulf 
of Guinea. They lead a number of other missions in a variety of 
places.''\89\ Nigeria's capital, Abuja, has played a major role 
in resolving regional disputes. It is the fourth-largest troop 
contributor to U.N. peacekeeping missions in the world.\90\
    \89\ ``General Carter F. Ham, Commander, U.S. Africa Command,'' 
Center for Strategic and International Studies Military Strategy Forum, 
October 4, 2011. Available at: http://csis.org/event/military-strategy-
    \90\ ``Nigeria: Elections and Issues for Congress,'' Lauren Ploch, 
Congressional Research Service, May 17, 2011, pg. 1. Available at: 
    Unfortunately, the deteriorating security situation in 
Nigeria is a cause for concern, especially as Boko Haram's 
attacks become more sophisticated, coordinated, and deadly. 
Boko Haram and other terrorist groups such as AQIM--which is 
looking to expand its reach across Africa--would likely feel 
encouraged to exploit a destabilized Nigeria. Moreover, further 
instability could force Nigeria to pull out of various 
peacekeeping missions in order to increase manpower at home. If 
Nigeria were to collapse and become a failed state or descend 
into civil war, it could have negative implications for the 
United States and its allies.
    In short, the rising threat of Boko Haram presents the 
United States with an opportunity to expand diplomatic and 
military engagement with both Abuja and Nigerian Muslims in the 

                   Military and Intelligence Support

    U.S. security assistance to Nigeria was suspended briefly 
from 2003-2006 while the State Department restarted its 
International Military Education and Training Program.\91\ 
Since then, U.S. security assistance to Nigeria has steadily 
increased. According to General Ham, the U.S. military 
currently enjoys ``a very longstanding, and very helpful, very 
useful naval and air military relationship [with 
Nigeria].''\92\ In 2007, the U.S. Navy started the African 
Partnership Station as part of a larger effort to enhance 
security in the Gulf of Guinea. This program has included 
visits to Nigerian ports and regional naval exercises with 
Nigerian and European counterparts. The United States also 
provides military training with an emphasis on respect for 
human rights and civilian authority. The State Department, 
which has also engaged Nigeria through its African Coastal and 
Border Security (ACBS) program, has focused its assistance on 
peacekeeping support, training, border and maritime security, 
and increasing military professionalization.\93\
    \91\ Ploch, supra note 90, at 30.
    \92\ Center for Strategic and International Studies, supra note 89.
    \93\ Ploch, supra note 90, at 30.
    Cooperation exists to a lesser extent between the U.S. and 
Nigerian armies. Nigeria is a participant in the National Guard 
State Partnership Program and coordinates activities 
specifically with the California National Guard. The Nigerian 
Army has also received counterterrorism funding from the 
Department of Defense: $2.2 million for the development of a 
counterterrorism infantry unit, and another $6.2 million 
designated to the tactical communications and interoperability 
within its counterterrorism unit.\94\ General Ham has reported 
that cooperation between the two armies is steadily increasing 
and has noted that the U.S.-Nigerian military relationship is 
in part being shaped by the rise of Boko Haram:
    \94\ Ibid., 31.

        `` . . . in my visit to Abuja I had a great meeting 
        with the chief of the army staff following President 
        Jonathan's visit here with President Obama. And I 
        think, we're now starting to find ways in which we can 
        cooperate more closely. Very clearly Boko Haram has 
        altered that relationship somewhat. And so we're 
        looking for ways in which we can help, ways that 
        Nigeria would like us to give help in developing their 
        counterterrorist capabilities . . . ''\95\
    \95\ Center for Strategic and International Studies, supra note 89.

General Ham proposed that the development of Nigeria's 
counterterrorism capabilities could include providing non-
lethal equipment and training, and helping security forces to 
be more precise in their use of force.
    Despite General Ham's positive reviews of U.S.-Nigerian 
military cooperation, Nigerian capacity to combat Boko Haram in 
the north is limited. According to sources following the 
attacks, soldiers deployed in northern Nigeria have been 
deserting due to a lack of pay. Morale has been reported to be 
generally low among security forces based in the north. 
Residents feel that the security situation will continue to 
deteriorate, in part due to the fact that senior commanders 
still do not appear to take the threat posed by Boko Haram 
seriously. The inability of the government to pay its soldiers 
and the lack of urgency among senior commanders regarding the 
increasingly violent attacks waged by Boko Haram underscore the 
challenges the Nigerian state faces in to confronting this 
    It is critical that the United States work more closely 
with Nigerian security forces to develop greater domestic 
intelligence collection and sharing with the U.S. Intelligence 
Community. Military cooperation is vital to a successful 
counterterrorism strategy. A possible model includes Yemen, 
with whom the United States built an effective intelligence 
sharing partnership following the Christmas Day 2009 attempted 
attack to hunt suspected militants. While this relationship 
continues to pose challenges, it has had notable success, 
highlighted by the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.
    In a recent display of growing international concern 
surrounding the rise of Boko Haram, France has offered military 
support to Nigeria. Meeting in Abuja with his Nigerian 
counterpart, Olugbenga Ashira, French Foreign Minister Alain 
Juppe stated: ``We shall fight against this phenomenon. We are 
ready to share any information. We are ready to coordinate our 
intelligence services. We are ready also to give our help in 
training cooperation . . . France is directly concerned with 
the question of terrorism. It goes against our interest in the 
region and so we are in complete solidarity with the countries 
of the region around the sub Sahara and around the Sahel . . . 
''\96\ Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, the Nigerian Army 
Chief of Staff, said that in addition to the United States and 
France, Pakistan and Britain have also offered to assist with 
counterterrorism training.\97\
    \96\ ``France to help Nigeria with Boko Haram militants,'' 
defenceWeb, November 14, 2011. Available at: http://
militants&catid=56:diplomacy-a-peace&-Itemid=- 111.
    \97\ Ibid.

                         Diplomatic Engagement

    The United States has begun to engage Nigerian Muslims, 
primarily through two U.S. Agency for International Development 
(USAID) programs in the northern states of Bauchi and 
Sokoto.\98\ Moreover, Nigeria serves as a minor partner in the 
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), a State 
Department initiative aimed at helping a number of African 
countries in the Trans-Sahara and Sahel regions combat 
terrorist organizations.\99\
    \98\ Ploch, supra note 90, at 30.
    \99\ ``The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership,'' U.S. Africa 
Command website, http://www.africom.mil/tsctp.asp. TSCTP partners 
include Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, 
and Senegal.
    Active public outreach to Nigerian Muslims plays a critical 
role in containing Boko Haram. Boko Haram has so far rejected 
negotiations with the Nigerian government, and has attacked and 
killed Muslim leaders who supported the election of President 
Jonathan. The United States has begun to take steps to promote 
government action on the numerous grievances that plague the 
north and hinder the prospect of talks between Boko Haram and 
the Nigerian government.
    The United States is one of the largest providers of non-
military aid to Nigeria.\100\ In 2010, Abuja received roughly 
$614 million in aid from the United States. This aid is focused 
on programs in democratic governance, economic reform, security 
service reform and professionalization, and education and 
health care services. However, the majority of the aid goes to 
HIV/AIDS programs.\101\ In 2010, the Obama Administration 
established the U.S.-Nigeria Bilateral Commission to encourage 
dialogue on issues ranging from security and energy to anti-
corruption as requested by Congress in H.R. 2410, the Foreign 
Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011. The 
Commission is composed of four working groups that meet on a 
regular basis: Good Governance, Transparency and Integrity; 
Food Security and Agriculture; Energy and Investment; and Niger 
Delta and Security Cooperation.\102\
    \100\ Ploch, supra note 90, at 29.
    \101\ Ibid.
    \102\ Ibid., 28.
    The United States has begun to publicly pressure the 
government to tackle corruption, encourage greater investment 
in the north, address poverty and joblessness, and promote 
government accountability and transparency. Recent statements 
by U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence P. McCulley pressuring 
the government to address these problems are a significant 
starting point, and such pressure should continue. 
Additionally, a USAID program called Leadership, Empowerment, 
Advocacy, and Development (LEAD), is assisting northern 
governments build partnerships between state and local 
governments and the private sector. The goal of this program is 
to improve accountability, governance, and the delivery of 
essential services.\103\ Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, 
John Campbell, suggests the United States could also support 
efforts to ``make modern education more palatable to an Islamic 
    \103\ Ibid., 30.
    \104\ ``To Battle Nigeria's Boko Haram, Put Down Your Guns,'' John 
Campbell, Foreign Affairs, September 9, 2011. Available at: http://
    In addition to increasing government transparency and 
accountability, concerns regarding airport security, the 
economy, and education must also be addressed. The Nigerian 
government has taken steps to improve airport security after 
the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing over Detroit, but 
the government has been less effective in addressing the 
economic and educational issues that plague the north. In these 
areas, the United States has begun to implement programs to 
assist local and state governments.

            Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Designation

    According to the U.S. State Department, ``the Office of the 
Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) 
continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active 
around the world to identify potential targets for designation. 
When reviewing targets of specific groups, S/CT looks not only 
at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, 
but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and 
preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains 
the capability and intent to carry out such acts.''\105\
    \105\ Complete information regarding legal criteria for FTO 
designation can be found at the website of the U.S. Department of 
State, Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Available at: http:/
    The legal criteria for FTO designation includes the 

        1.  LIt must be a foreign organization.
        2.  LThe organization must engage in terrorist 
        activity, as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B) of the INA 
        (8 U.S.C.  1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined 
        in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations 
        Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 
        U.S.C.  2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and 
        intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
        3.  LThe organization's terrorist activity or terrorism 
        must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the 
        national security (national defense, foreign relations, 
        or the economic interests) of the United States.

    Based on Boko Haram's evolution and recent public warnings 
by the U.S. State Department to U.S. citizens in Nigeria, Boko 
Haram may meet the legal criteria for State Department FTO 
designation.\106\ Such designations are subject to a rigorous 
statutory process and through investigation, which the State 
Department needs to initiate. If Boko Haram were to be 
designated an FTO, it would support U.S. Intelligence Community 
efforts to curb the group's financing, stigmatize and isolate 
it internationally, heighten public awareness and knowledge, 
and signal to other governments the United States takes the 
threat from Boko Haram seriously.\107\
    \106\ ``Emergency Message for American Citizens,'' United States 
Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, November 5, 2011. Available at: http://
    \107\ U.S. Department of State, supra note 105.

                             IX. CONCLUSION

    Boko Haram's attacks are occurring at their greatest 
frequency since the sect emerged from hiding in 2010. The 
sophistication of its tactics, use of the internet, and its 
recent attack on the U.N. headquarters in Abuja all point to a 
dangerously evolving organization.
    Debate exists regarding Boko Haram. Some believe it is 
little more than a grassroots insurrection with no defined 
leader or structure. Others believe that core Boko Haram, as it 
is understood, is a very small group of individuals who simply 
consider themselves to be the followers of their slain leader 
Mohammed Yusuf. Despite our lack of understanding of Boko 
Haram, the movement appears to have significant sympathy among 
many Nigerian Muslims. Coupled with the grievances that plague 
the north, the environment is ripe for recruitment. Recent 
evidence alludes to the sect's potential desire to join the 
ranks of international jihadist organizations. American, 
Nigerian, other African, and European officials have all 
expressed concern over the sect's communication with AQIM and 
al Shabaab. An alliance, or at the very least cooperation 
between the groups, can prove costly for the stability of 
Africa, the Sahel, and American interests.
    Perhaps most striking is how little is known about Boko 
Haram. The sect remained relatively off the radar screen of the 
U.S. Intelligence Community until the U.N. headquarters attack, 
its first non-Nigerian, international target. Similar attacks 
have signaled the beginning of new phases for other extremist 
groups such as AQIM in the past.
    The U.S. Intelligence Community has underestimated the 
threat potential of terrorist organizations in the recent past, 
most notably AQAP in Yemen and TTP, the Pakistani Taliban. Both 
of these groups were believed to be focusing on regional 
targets in the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia. The attempted 
bombing of a U.S. passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 
2009 by a Nigerian Muslim trained by AQAP, and the attempted 
bombing of New York's Times Square by a Pakistani American 
trained by TTP left many in the Intelligence Community caught 
off guard. This report seeks to avoid another intelligence 
lapse by calling attention to the potential threat Boko Haram 
can pose to U.S. interests abroad and in the homeland. At this 
time, the risk of an attack by Boko Haram on the U.S. homeland 
may be low, but it is advisable to take the threat seriously 
and prepare accordingly.