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

5. How are they funded?

For much of its history, funding was a non-issue for Boko Haram, since its weapons were readily available Kalashnikov rifles, and its members tended to live in local communities.

But now that Boko Haram has moved into the use of suicide bomb vests and car bombs, all of which require equipment, expertise, and planning, Boko Haram is likely to require cash.

US, Nigerian, and Algerian security experts suggest that money and technical support comes from Al   Qaeda affiliates in north Africa and the Somalia.

But some Nigerians point out that Boko Haram’s funding may come from local political elites, to further their own domestic agenda.

Boko Haram’s shift in tactics occurred roughly at the time that an increasingly ill northern-born President Umaru Yar’Adua ceded power to his Christian and southern-born vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, and some of Jonathan’s supporters charge that Boko Haram may be paid to serve the interests of northern Nigerian political elites, who want to undermine southern-born President Jonathan by making the country “ungovernable.”

In Nov. 2011, Nigerian police arrested a self-declared Boko Haram spokesman, who claimed to have received money from a northern Nigerian senator – oddly a member of Jonathan’s ruling party – for sending threatening messages to other politicians.

In Jan. 2012, Nigerian Senate President David Mark announced that “Those who are doing this are miscreants, misguided Nigerians, who are being sponsored obviously and if government knows who is sponsoring them, they must pick them out and deal with them once and for all, because we cannot condone it.”

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