Richard Barrett Quoted in Reuters: Boko Haram Too Extreme for ‘al Qaeda in West Africa’ Brand
May 30, 2014
By: Tim Cocks
(Reuters) – When Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan branded Boko Haram “al Qaeda in West Africa”, it was sure to turn up the alarm among Western policy-makers, if its kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls was not enough.
Yet while Jonathan’s remarks, made at a meeting of regional leaders in Paris this month, hold some truth, analysts say Boko Haram is overall not an al Qaeda affiliate in West Africa – nor is it likely to become one.
Boko Haram’s own aims remain thoroughly local and its behavior, especially killing Muslim civilians and kidnapping girls, runs against the al Qaeda leadership’s current thinking.
The insurgents’ fight for an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria remains driven largely by domestic factors. It is fast making what is now Africa’s largest economy look like a failing state.
They could however become a wider international problem down the line, analysts say…
In his numerous videos, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau talks a lot about local gripes and very little about global jihad, although he has made a few appeals to al-Qaeda in what appears to be no more than lip service.
“Shekau has several times said that BH (Boko Haram) is part of AQ – or aspires to be. So far, there has been no public response from the AQ leadership,” said Richard Barrett, an expert on al Qaeda and former coordinator of the United Nations al-Qaeda Taliban Monitoring Team…
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