By Emmanuel Ogala
The extremist Boko Haram sect, which has since 2009 launched sustained attacks on security installations, places of worship, educational institutions and media outfits, recently got cash support of N40 million from an Algerian terrorist group, an intelligence report recently submitted to the presidency has said.
The report, a product of a joint police and military investigations and raids, carried out in Kano and Sokoto in December 2011 indicates that the Algerian sect gave out the funds as its first installment in a planned long term partnership with Boko Haram.
According to the report, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the Boko Haram sect and the unnamed Algerian terrorist group have met a number of times in their bid to hammer out modalities for a long term partnership.
The document quoted some arrested members of the sect as having made the confession.
The partnership would see the richer, more influential, and more organized Algerian terror gang mentor members of the Boko Haram through trainings in activities that will help it fortify its financial base locally.
The Algerian sect is also expected to train the Boko Haram insurgents in hostage taking and weapon handling.
The report provides an insight into how the dreaded Nigerian sect has been funding its activities. The sect members have been fingered for a string of bank robberies, and there is also deep suspicion that they receive discreet support from local politicians.
But it has never been this established that the group receives donations from overseas.
Al Qaeda links
The extremist Boko Haram sect has of recent been linked to international terror gangs like the Al Qaeda.
The first official document linking the group to Al Qaeda is a United States’ cable dated June 29, 2009, leaked by Wikileaks. The cable, written before the Boko Haram sect began its terror campaigns in August that year, documented the sect’s link to a well-trained veteran Chadian extremist, Abu-Mahjin.
The cable described Abu-Mahjin as having “limited ties to al-Qa’ida associates,” and was, on behalf of the Boko Haram sect, seeking more funds to facilitate a massive terrorist attack. The extremist sect began its terror attack on the Nigerian state two months after the cable was written.
Boko Haram’s successes in attacking defenceless religious congregations, bank robberies, and vandalization of police armouries validated its growing link with established terrorist groups outside the country.
Previous security intelligence on the sect suggests that its recent transformation, successes, and organization is partly because of the help it received from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a branch of the international terrorist network based in the Saharan states of Mali, Niger and Algeria.
In January this year, The UK Guardian interviewed the sect’s spokesperson, Abu Qaqa, who reportedly said his group’s leaders met with high ranking members of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia during a pilgrimage in August 2011.
The meeting, Mr. Qaqa told the paper, was to finalise the group’s financial and logistics arrangements with Al-Qaeda.
“Al-Qaeda are our elder brothers,” he told the Guardian. “We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them we ask them.”
A UN report released shortly after the Libyan crisis also said weapons from Libya may have been smuggled to Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Both the government and its security agencies had, in the past, claimed the group gets foreign funding and support from other terror gangs like Al Ahabab in Somalia.
The intelligence report, which is now lying in a shelf at the president’s office, also detailed how members of the Boko Haram sect recently got trainings in kidnapping from the same Algerian terrorist sect.
The report listed names of nine members of the terror sect who had successfully received trainings in kidnappings, in addition to bomb making skills.
As its part of the deal, Boko Haram is expected to kidnap white skinned foreigners – especially expatriates – in Abuja and exchange them for more money and arms and ammunitions with the Algerian sect. “Or demand ransom as the case may be,” the report said.
As at the time of the investigation, December 2011, the sect had finalised its kidnap strategy and was scouting for houses to keep their kidnap victims and suitable cars to transport them across the desert.
“They are targeting expatriates from (Julius) Berger, and Dantata and sawoe as well as other places they could find any,” the report said.
The report claims that a cell of the sect led by one Abu Mohammad carried out the kidnap of “white men” – a Brit and an Italian.
Both men were later killed in February this year during an attempt to rescue them by a combined squad of british and Nigerian security agents.
The Boko Haram terrorist sect, however, denied involvement in the kidnapping in one of its teleconferences shortly after the incident.
Boko Haram set out seeking to impose a stricter form of Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria and end corruption.
Violence by the group, which had only religious interest in the past, is traceable to the five days of clashes in July 2009 between the group and members of the security forces in Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, and Kano states that left more than 800 people dead, including at least 30 police officers.
The police summarily executed the captured Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, along with several dozens of his followers in front of the police headquarters in Maiduguri.
Dozens of its members were also arrested.
Boko Haram frequently said its attacks on the government, especially the police, are in revenge for these killings and an attempt to set free members incarcerated by the police.
Recently, the ideology behind Boko Haram attacks got more confusing with increasing attacks on schools, media houses and almost any soft target within its reach.
The National Security Adviser, Andrew Owoye Azazi, in a recent public appearance, said the group was a creation of the disgruntled members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
He said members of the party, angered by the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, created the group to destabilize the government. He also admitted the sect had members trained by more sophisticated international counterparts.
Listen to Azazi’s comments on Boko Haram below