Some United States intelligence analysts have said that the dreaded Boko Haram sect and other groups in the Northern part of Nigeria reportedly received $3m from Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Qaeda, another deadly sect in 2002.
According to a report in a United States-based newspaper, The Daily Beast, Bin Laden was said to have funded the up-spring of Boko Haram as he allegedly sent an aide to Nigeria to hand out seed money to a wide array of Salafist political organisations that shared same goal with al Qaeda which is imposing Islamic rule.
“There were channels between bin laden and Boko Haram leadership. He gave some strategic direction at times,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.
A comprehensive report published by the International Crisis Group on Boko Haram reveals that the sect’s early leader received some seed money from Mohammed Ali, one of Osama bin Laden’s disciple in the year 2002.
Bin Laden was said to have met Ali in the 1990s when he was based in Sudan and after they both travelled to Afghanistan, Bin Laden gave him $3m in Nigerian currency in 2002 and sent him to the north of the nation to help spread al-Qaeda’s ideology. Ali then became involved in the Nigeria’s Muslim insurgency but was eventually killed.
In 2002, Mohammed Yusuf founded Boko Haram but he was later killed in police custody in 2009 and then Shekau took over the mantle of leadership.
Though the U.S. intelligence community believe that Boko Haram had only tangential links to al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, and that reports of bin Laden backing the Nigerian outfit were off-base, many analysts believe that the ties between Boko Haram and al Qaeda global leadership is not just about a little seed money but it goes much deeper.
Since Boko Haram was founded, they have destroyed many churches, mosques and schools, killing many in their attacks, even innocent children. Their recent abduction of over 200 girls from a school in Chibok on April 14, has been a subject of growing world concern.
There were reports over the weekend that even al-Qaeda has disowned their latest act of abducting innocent girls, adding that observers say various Islamic and jihad groups are distancing themselves from Boko Haram.