Report on Boko Haram

The report by the State Security Service, Nigeria’s leading agency for internal intelligence, was submitted to senior government officials in June, a person familiar with it said. That marked roughly the beginning of a string of attacks this summer attributed to the group here in Africa’s most populous country, an important oil exporter.

Nigeria’s latest attack, a suicide bombing Friday at the U.N. compound in the capital, Abuja, marked what is believed to be Boko Haram’s first assault on an international target. The bombing killed at least 23 people and injured more than 80, according to a U.N. spokesman.

The June report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, didn’t appear to contain specific intelligence on future attacks. But critics say the bombing attempts that followed its submission to top officials—paired with mounting evidence that some Boko Haram members are pursuing higher profile al Qaeda-style attacks on international targets—highlights what they say is an intelligence service hobbled by poor coordination and corruption within its ranks.

These people point in particular to a finding in the report that four of the five top members of Boko Haram have been in police custody at least once in recent years but have been released. The report doesn’t state reasons for the releases.

A spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t respond to requests for comment about the report. A spokeswoman for the state security service declined to speak about the report or Boko Haram.

Several of the report’s findings were confirmed by other Nigerian and Western security officials

LAGOS—Members of Boko Haram, the group believed responsible for last week’s suicide bombing of a United Nations’ building in Nigeria, have received training from al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Afghanistan and Algeria, according to a recent internal Nigerian intelligence report.

The report by the State Security Service, Nigeria’s leading agency for internal intelligence, was submitted to senior government officials in June, a person familiar with it said. That marked roughly the beginning of a string of attacks this summer attributed to the group here in Africa’s most populous country, an important oil exporter.

Nigeria’s latest attack, a suicide bombing Friday at the U.N. compound in the capital, Abuja, marked what is believed to be Boko Haram’s first assault on an international target. The bombing killed at least 23 people and injured more than 80, according to a U.N. spokesman.

The June report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, didn’t appear to contain specific intelligence on future attacks. But critics say the bombing attempts that followed its submission to top officials—paired with mounting evidence that some Boko Haram members are pursuing higher profile al Qaeda-style attacks on international targets—highlights what they say is an intelligence service hobbled by poor coordination and corruption within its ranks.

These people point in particular to a finding in the report that four of the five top members of Boko Haram have been in police custody at least once in recent years but have been released. The report doesn’t state reasons for the releases.

A spokesman for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t respond to requests for comment about the report. A spokeswoman for the state security service declined to speak about the report or Boko Haram.

Several of the report’s findings were confirmed by other Nigerian and Western security officials.

The report presents a more detailed picture of foreign terror links than the government has acknowledged. It portrays Boko Haram as an Islamist group with Jihadist aspirations and more substantial international connections than previously believed.

It says group members began traveling abroad for weapons training as early as 2002, with a trip that included several members heading to Mauritania. In 2007, the report says, members of Boko Haram traveled to Afghanistan to receive training in the making of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and in suicide-bombing techniques.

The report names a man from Nigeria’s Adamawa state it says “led a group of members to Afghanistan for training on IEDs and on their return they imparted their knowledge to others.”

One of the latest on boko haram latest news news is one a Nigerian undercover security official in the country’s north confirmed that Boko Haram members have received training in Afghanistan. “They usually fly there from neighboring countries, like Niger or Chad,” the official said.

The report also says Boko Haram members received combat and bombmaking training in Mauritania and in Algeria with members of al Qaeda’s north Africa branch, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

Algeria-based AQIM has claimed credit for several killings and kidnappings of foreigners in west Africa, including a Friday suicide bombing of an Algerian military academy that killed 18 people. The group still has at least four French hostages kidnapped last September in Mali.

A U.S. official said it was unlikely that Boko Haram was active enough before 2009 to send people in considerable numbers to train elsewhere.

But by 2009, this official said, Boko Haram made contacts and established relationships with members of AQIM. In 2010, they began training alongside elements of AQIM in northern Mali.

“Within the last year, they’ve established more contacts and training opportunities with AQIM,” said the U.S. official. “What we’re seeing now is probably the result of the additional radicalization of their viewpoints and the training.”

The official said Boko Haram is estimated to number a few hundred people. “This is not a widespread, huge movement,” the U.S. official said.

Many inside Nigeria’s government criticize Mr. Jonathan and the security agencies for not preventing the recent attacks thought to have been carried out by Boko Haram. The group is blamed for the June bombing of a northern Nigeria beer garden that killed 25 people, and a bombing at the Nigerian police headquarters in Abuja that same month.

There is no indication that the Boko Haram members who received training abroad are those responsible for last week’s bombing.

A man claiming to be a Boko Haram member took credit for last week’s U.N. bombing, in a phone interview Saturday with The Wall Street Journal that was arranged in an intermediary in northeastern Nigera, where the group is based. The claim hasn’t been independently confirmed.

Late Monday, the Nigerian police said they made several arrests of suspects behind the bombing but didn’t release any additional details. The Nigerian government hasn’t issued any statements assigning blame for the attack.

On Tuesday, President Jonathan said he directed the security services to “implement additional security, intelligence-gathering and counter terrorism measures, including greater cooperation with other nations engaged in the global war on terrorism.”

While Nigerians commonly refer to their largest homegrown terrorist group as Boko Haram, which roughly means “Western education is sin” in the local Hausa language, the group officially calls itself Jama’atul ahlul Sunna Lidda’awa Wal Jihad, which means “Brethren of Sunni United in the Pursuit of Holy War.” It has existed in various forms, and under various leaders, since the late 1990s, according to the report.

Members demand a wider implementation of Sharia law in Nigeria, the cessation of attacks against its members and the end of Western-style education promoted by the Nigerian government.

After a series of confrontations with local police in 2009, the group attracted more recruits and sent more members abroad for training. After a prison break in 2009 freed some 800 convicts, including several suspected Boko Haram members, some members fled to Algeria and were trained by AQIM, according to the report.

The group has a long list of those it aims to attack: “local government institutions and security agencies, moderate Muslims, non-Muslims thought to be responsible for social, economic and political misfortune against the north \[of Nigeria], certain clerics, churches, Christian businesses, and relaxation spots,” according to the report. It doesn’t offer details of how it would attack these targets.

Several northern Nigerian leaders have suggested amnesty for Boko Haram members, arguing that if Mr. Jonathan can give amnesty to Niger Delta militants, he can do the same for northern militants.

Other Sources: Wikipedia

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