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A Well-Deserved Terrorist Designation

2:04 PM, Nov 13, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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In July of this year, the UN reported that Boko Haram fighters had been trained in a Shabaab camp in Sudan. Shabaab officially became an al Qaeda branch, or affiliate, in February 2012. According to the UN’s well-placed source, the Boko Haram members were trained by a terrorist “specifically tasked by” al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri to provide instruction to jihadists in Africa.

None of this should be terribly surprising. Boko Haram’s leaders have openly proclaimed their allegiance to the al Qaeda-led global jihad.

In July 2010, Abubakar Shekau released a video message lionizing a pair of al Qaeda commanders who had been killed in Iraq. It was one of Shekau’s first messages as Boko Haram’s new leader.

“By Allah, they rose, did jihad, and fought in order for the faith to be entirely for Allah,” Skekau said of the al Qaeda in Iraq leaders, according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group. “It was for this that they rose, it was for this that they fought, and it was for this that they died.”

Calling the pair “martyrs,” Shekau went on to warn: “Do not think jihad is over. Rather jihad has just begun. O America, die with your fury.”

Since that July 2010 message, Shekau has continued to openly praise al Qaeda.

In January 2012, the Guardian published an interview with Boko Haram’s spokesman, Abu Qaqa, who said “the group's members were spiritual followers of al Qaeda, and claimed they had met senior figures in the network founded by Osama bin Laden during visits to Saudia Arabia.” Abubakar Shekau was part of the group that met with al Qaeda representatives in Saudi Arabia, according to Abu Qaqa.

"Al Qaeda are our elder brothers,” Abu Qaqa told the Guardian. “During the lesser Hajj [apparently in August 2011], our leader travelled to Saudi Arabia and met al Qaeda there,” Abu Qaqa claimed. “We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them we ask them.”

In recent months, still more evidence indicating that Boko Haram is well-situated within al Qaeda’s global network has surfaced.

In August, The Daily Beast first reported that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri participated in secretive communications with more than 20 al Qaeda operatives positioned around the globe.

Among the groups communicating with Zawahiri: Boko Haram.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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