NewsNorth AfricaFederation of terror groups 'worrisome'


Posted on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 13:46

Federation of terror groups 'worrisome'

By Konye Obaji Ori

Terrorist groups across Africa and the Middle East plan to unite forces to build a strong non-state force against their perceived enemies, an intelligence report has revealed.

Extremist group, Boko Haram has launched a string of attacks on churches in Nigeria/Photo/ReutersAccording to the head of the US Africa Command known as Africom, three of Africa's largest militant Islamist groups are trying to co-ordinate their efforts.

Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, Africom boss General Carter Ham said North African al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was sharing explosives and funds with Nigeria's Islamist group, Boko Haram.

Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, has confirmed the link and the Nigerian government has also been able to prove it.

The second terror group, Somalia's al-Shabab is working closely with AQIM and Boko Haram.

The Ansar Dine militant group, which has seized the northern half of Mali, is also thought to have links with al-Qaeda. The group has also provided a "safe haven" for AQIM in northern Mali.

Africom gathered that AQIM was "an organisation of growing concern", particularly in relation to the situation in Mali.

Ham emphasised that these Islamist groups were not monolithic, and that they did not follow an international jihadist agenda.

However, the Africom boss pointed out that the most radical elements among the terror groups were coordinating and synchronising their efforts.

"Most notably I would say that the linkages between AQIM and Boko Haram are probably the most worrisome in terms of the indications we have that they are likely sharing funds, training and explosive materials that can be quite dangerous," Ham was quoted as saying.

According to analysts, some of the links between al-Qaeda and African-based jihadist groups have been known before. But there has been a question mark over whether there is a direct operational link.

Nonetheless, some analysts argue the alleged link between the terror groups in Africa and the Middle East could have been raised by the groups themselves as they battle to gain necessary support.

Other analysts argue the links have been made in the political interests of governments seeking US and Western support.

But behind the terrorism is the perceived greed and grievances bred by perceived inequality, poverty, a weak state system and a feeble rule of law in North Africa, Somalia, Mali and Nigeria.

Ham operates from Africom headquarters in Germany, and he co-ordinates US military activity across the continent including the use of drones against al-Shabab Islamists to the training of African armies in various countries.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 14:36

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