By Sr. National Security Producer Pam Benson
A deadly bombing in Abuja has launched a little-known Islamic extremist group onto the terrorism radar, raising U.S. officials' concern about the spread of the influence of al Qaeda.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack at a U.N. facility in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that killed 23 people last month.
It was a departure from the group's recent campaign of assassinations and bombings aimed at government targets. The group's stated goal is the implementation of a strict form of Islamic law - sharia - in the predominantly Muslim states of Northern Nigeria.
Now some U.S. military officials are looking at the car bombing as a possible new calling card.
"We're seeing some degree of cross-pollination" between al Qaeda affiliates, said one of two U.S. defense officials who recently briefed reporters at the Pentagon. "When you see a group like Boko Haram, which is focused internally, use a car bomb the way they did, it's a capability they clearly got from (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)." Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, commonly referred to as AQIM, is based in North Africa.
Officials also point to statements made by the group indicating some of its people were trained in Somalia, where the terrorist group al-Shabaab operates. One of the suspects in the U.N. attack had reportedly been in Somalia.
Although the attack against the United Nations is the first time Boko Haram has hit a Western target, U.S. officials are worried the group could be aided by al Qaeda in a quest to threaten other Western interests in Nigeria and beyond.
Gen. Carter Ham, head of the U.S. Africa Command, recently told reporters that there is evidence that Boko Haram, AQIM and al-Shabaab are trying to form an alliance to coordinate attacks against the West. FULL POST
By Sr. National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly
It's likely not the kind of public relations within the Muslim community that the CIA was aiming for, but when the Arab American News published a recent wire story that was critical of the agency and some of its believed operations in the community, something strange happened.
"We received an email from the advertising agency which handles the CIA's account," publisher Osama Siblani said. "The agency sent an email saying that the CIA wanted to remove their ads immediately for undisclosed reasons. I said 'OK, capture the front page in a picture and let's make the request to the webmaster to remove it.' They would not even wait. They want the ads to be removed immediately without a delay."
The ads seeking linguists interested in working for the agency were undoubtedly strategically placed in the Dearborn, Michigan, newspaper, which serves greater Detroit's Muslim community.
No official explanation was given, though the same article had been published by numerous other news agencies around the world. Siblani smelled a conspiracy and the following week, published his own blistering editorial expressing his discontent.
"If displeasure with one story the newspaper publishes causes a government agency to pull all its ads in retribution, then we assume everyone should be afraid of the CIA - and maybe the whole government - because it's obviously 'my way or the highway' with them. For us they can pull advertising and satisfy their thirst for revenge," Siblani wrote.
Without much explanation, the agency restored the advertising deal within days.
An agency spokesperson issued a statement saying: "The CIA has a long history of advertising with the Arab American News, and we regret any misunderstandings in this instance. We resubmitted our recruitment ads - for linguists - to the outlet. Freedom of the press is one of the many American values that CIA officers work to defend every day." FULL POST
By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
The United States believes that the leaders of Pakistan's intelligence services are directly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has increased its attacks against U.S. troops and other targets in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official told CNN Friday.
The accusation goes even further than declarations this week by U.S. officials like Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence provided support for the Haqqani network in its attack last week in Kabul against the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters.
Until now American officials, when asked, generally indicated that it is only elements of the Pakistani intelligence service that are involved in supporting terrorism.
But the official told CNN, "I am not caveating this. We believe this support goes right to the top of the ISI."
CIA Director David Petraeus met this week with Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, chief of the ISI, to warn him against supporting the Haqqanis.
"We have credible intelligence obtained through a series of methods that directly implicate the ISI" in having "knowledge or support" for Haqqani activities, the official told CNN. "The ISI is providing financing, safe haven, advice and guidance" to the Haqqanis.
He noted the ISI uses retired senior officers as proxies in some cases, but he was adamant the latest intelligence shows support from the highest level of current serving ISI personnel.
On Thursday, Mullen minced few words in accusing the intelligence service of supporting terrorists responsible for recent attacks, and more broadly, the Pakistani government of supporting terrorism. FULL POST