United Nations: Boko Haram militants from
Nigeria are bolstering links with al Qaeda and other hardline
groups in West Africa, according to a UN report, which
highlighted the growing concerns of the region`s governments.
Attacks, detentions of accused militants, seizures of
explosives and arms -- many smuggled out of Libya -- have all
added to the worries of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria
and their neighbors, according to a UN mission which went to
the Sahel region to report on security fallout after the
downfall of Muammar Gaddafi.
Fears of terrorism and poor security dominated concerns
raised. The UN report said Niger had increased its defence
budget by 65 per cent and reduced health and education
spending because of the threat.
Governments reaffirmed suspicions that weapons
accumulated by Kadhafi had been smuggled into other countries
by former Libyan soldiers and mercenaries.
The report said Niger authorities recently intercepted a
convoy carrying 645 kilogrammes of Semtex plastic explosive
and 445 detonators. Niger authorities "alleged that the
explosives were meant for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
camps in northern Mali.
"This seizure may indicate that terrorist groups have
been acquiring arms, weapons and explosives from Libyan
"Some of the weapons may be hidden in the desert and
could be sold to terrorist groups like al Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb, Boko Haram or other criminal organisations," said the
group, which was led by the UN representative for West Africa,
The mission said Boko Haram, blamed for 185 deaths in the
Nigerian city of Kano last weekend, a suicide bomb strike
against the UN headquarters in Abuja last August and countless
other attacks, was considered a growing threat outside
"Its presence was mentioned as a source of concern by
most countries in the region." In Niger, "the radicalisation
of youth was a particular concern in the south, where
interlocutors said that Boko Haram was already active in
spreading its ideology and propaganda and, in some cases, had
succeeded in closing down public schools," said the report.
"The mission representatives were also informed that Boko
Haram had established links with al Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb and that some of its members from Nigeria and Chad had
received training in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb camps in
Mali during the summer of 2011."
Seven Boko Haram members were detained going through
Niger to Mali carrying material on making explosives and
contact details of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb members
they were to meet, said the UN mission.