TRAC Analyzes Growing Terrorist Danger in Central Africa

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Comprehensive analysis of Boko Haram and its relationship to al Qaeda franchises fills gaps in understanding and boosts research power

TRAC provides insight into a growing danger with its definitive analysis of the terrorist group Boko Haram, which threatens the stability of the Nigerian government and its oil exports to the West.

According to the latest U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, the Obama administration is more troubled about the threats of violence and terrorism in parts of central Africa – especially Nigeria -- than in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) is providing researchers with insight into this growing danger with its newly published definitive analysis of the terrorist group Boko Haram, which threatens the stability of the Nigerian government and its lucrative oil exports to the West.

“Both the CIA and French foreign intelligence services are paying close attention to escalating relationships between radical Islamic groups in the Sahel and especially Nigeria,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC. “Boko Haram has dominated the news in Nigeria and is particularly important for studying violence in West Africa. Despite this intense interest, reliable information about this group has remained scant. We feel this new analysis will clarify and simplify research about Boko Haram.”

The extensive analysis, entitled “Dangers at Home: Boko Haram’s Threat to Nigeria and The Limits of Its Strategic Expansion,” is written by TRAC contributors Jacob Zenn and Virginia Comolli and chronicles Boko Haram's history and activities, as well as its danger within Nigeria. "Boko Haram has released statements directly threatening the United States, but the real danger is to local companies and American interests operating in West Africa,” says Zenn. “Boko Haram is of particular interest to terrorism experts because of AQLIM’s failure to establish roots in Nigeria."

Zenn's and Comolli’s analysis in TRAC explores the level of engagement between Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM) -- which has been an area of debate among many experts. "Even though the extent of the relationship between Boko Haram and AQLIM is hard to ascertain, a number of indicators confirm that a degree of interaction exists. Boko Haram has pledged it is a full partner with AQLIM, but the relationship is really more like a junior partner or little brother -- limited to weapons training and possible sharing of kidnapping ransoms," says Comolli.

Zenn and Comolli explain why such disconnects between AQLIM and Boko Haram are present -- uncovering tensions and racial divides between the groups that can splinter and weaken their impact – and take the reader further into what the authors feel is the group’s real threat: its effective recruiting and extensive regional activity that can destabilize the region.

“Dangers at Home: Boko Haram’s Threat to Nigeria and The Limits of Its Strategic Expansion” appears in the Publishing Center of the TRAC database. TRAC’s Publishing Center is a forum for scholars from around the world to submit articles that can be shared with members of the TRAC research consortium and users of the database – which is most often purchased and made available through academic libraries and other institutions supporting research of terrorism.

TRAC is a digital information resource that addresses the burgeoning need among faculty, scholars, students, government and defense professionals for cutting-edge research on terrorism and terrorists of all kinds. The Beacham Group, LLC, unveiled TRAC in February 2012 after eight years in development. Immediately commended for its breadth of content – described by Library Journal as “astonishing” – TRAC provides historical context and maintains a current intelligence repository with a consortium of 2,200 specialists and a real-time news feed that reports on events as they occur. It includes profiles of 3,850 terrorist groups and links to over 1,600 think tanks, universities, government agencies and other resources studying terrorism.

Veryan Khan is available for interviews through TRAC’s media office. Follow TRAC on twitter (@TRACTerrorism) to stay up to date on important, but often missed news in this dynamic area. To learn more about TRAC visit

About the Contributors
Jacob Zenn is a widely respected research analyst in the area of terrorism. Formerly a political risk consultant, he writes regularly for the Jamestown Foundation’s Militant Leadership Monitor and Terrorism Monitor publications focusing on Nigeria and Central Asia. Virginia Comolli is a Research Associate in the Transnational Threats and Political Risk program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) where she focuses on various aspects of terrorism, organized crime and conflict. A member of the international advisory board of the African Centre for Peace Building (AFCOPB), she is the co-author of “Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition.”

About The Beacham Group
Founded in 1985 as Beacham Publishing Corp., The Beacham Group, LLC is renowned for the creation of authoritative reference works that enable comprehensive research, especially on topics of emerging interest. Its acclaimed titles span the impact of climate change with Beacham's Guide to Endangered Species and Beacham’s Guide to Environmental Issues and Sources to topical issues in literature to important societal concerns with The Encyclopedia of Social Change and its newly released TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium).
Beacham’s unique publishing model assembles and curates the input of topic experts, connecting users with high quality, trustworthy information in a single source.

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