What is Nigeria's Boko Haram? 5 things to know

4. Are they connected with Al Qaeda?

Boko Haram’s rhetoric and belief system certainly draws heavily from the Salafist-influenced beliefs of Al Qaeda, including the notion that Islam is in a fight for its survival against an economically powerful (but spiritually bankrupt) West.

Boko Haram’s shift to suicide bombs, from mere gun attacks, also suggests that the movement has recently increased its skill base and ambitions.

In the wake of the UN headquarters bombing in August 2011, Nigerian authorities said they believed the mastermind of the attack was a known Al Qaeda member, Mamman Nur, who they say had recently returned to Nigeria from Somalia. Security analysts believe that Nigeria’s intelligence community may have infiltrated Boko Haram, but they add it’s impossible to know how accurate their intelligence is.

US Gen. Carter Ham, commander for US military operations in Africa, told the Associated Press that there was evidence – not least of which being Boko Haram’s growing sophisticated techniques – that Boko Haram had begun to establish links with Al Qaeda’s affiliate in north Africa.

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