by Rachel Ogbu
A report entitled, “Terrorism in Northern Africa and the Sahel in 2012: Global Reach and Implications,” has shown that terrorist groups, Boko Haram and Ansaru, are funded by drug cartels in Latin America.
The recent document is an update on five earlier studies that suggested Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, had aligned with many other groups in order to expand its sources of funding.
Published by the Director, Inter-University Centre for Terrorism Studies, USA, Yonah Alexander, in February 2013, the 33-page report asserts in part that the threats of Al-Qaida’s new regional hub in northern Mali and from its associates constitute both tactical and strategic challenges. It also indicates that the drug and arms trafficking undertaken by the terrorists groups is further assisted by leaky borders of countries in the region.
It report reads further:
“Primary sources of financing of their activities include kidnapping (in some cases, kidnapping is outsourced to criminals), piracy and illicit trafficking of drugs, human, vehicles and other contraband goods.
“Intelligence reports and arrests have confirmed that AQIM has established links with Latin cartels for ‘drugs-for-arms’ smuggling into Europe through terrorist-trafficking networks in the Sahel.”
The Punch reports:
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Intelligence reports have in the past identified a strong link between AQIM and Boko Haram with the newly emerging Ansaru.
In December 2012, the Commander of the United States African Command, Gen. Carter Ham, stated that there was an increasing collaboration between AQIM and other terrorist groups in Africa, including Boko Haram.
It is stated in the report that the status of AQIM in the Sahel has opened a new path for the terrorist group to shift its centre of gravity from Afghanistan and Pakistan to a new abode.
With regional assessments on nine different African nations, the report states in the section on Nigeria, that Boko Haram and Ansaru’s involvement with AQIM fits the “model of internationalisation of terrorist movements” in other parts of the world.
Boko Haram operatives have been reported in the past to have attacked banks in order to raise funds for their operations.
However, our correspondent contacted the spokesperson for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mitchell Ofoyeju, to find out if the agency was aware of the drug-for-arms modus operandi of Boko Haram and Ansaru.
“We are aware of the report. The agency is conducting a critical investigation on that angle. The outcome of the investigation would determine what step to take next. But as far as NDLEA is concerned, we are not overlooking anything,” Ofoyeju said.