Extremist triangle a growing threat to Africa and America
An apparent car bomb outside a Catholic church in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Sunday, March 11, 2012 left six people dead. The blast was blamed on the Islamic militant group called Boko Haram, considered by Gen. Carter Ham as one of the three most violent groups in all of Africa.
June 25th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Extremist triangle a growing threat to Africa and America

By Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

The man in charge of U.S. Africa Command calls growing cooperation between "the three most violent" Islamic extremists groups in Africa a concern for Africa and America.

Gen. Carter Ham, USAFRICOM commander, spoke Monday to a meeting of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

He spelled out three major threats from al Qaeda-linked groups facing Africa and the troops in his command.

"In Somalia especially, Al Shabaab's presence has denied delivery of United Nations" humanitarian assistance to the strife-torn nation, according to Ham.

"We're increasingly concerned about al Qaeda in the land of Islamic Maghreb, AQIM," Ham said. "AQIM now has essentially a safe haven in a large portion of Mali and is operating essentially unconstrained. And we have seen through media reporting, just as you have, in many cases very harsh imposition of Sharia law through much of northern Mali."

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Regarding Nigeria, he said, "Of concern is the growing strength and growing violent behavior of what I would call the more extremist view of Boko Haram."

Ham said alone, each of these groups represents a risk to the region. But, he said, "What really concerns me are the indications that the three organizations are seeking to coordinate and synchronize their efforts, in other words to establish a cooperative effort amongst the three most violent organizations. And I think that's a problem for America and for African security in general."

He said AQIM and Boko Haram are getting particularly close, "in the terms of the indications we have that they are most likely sharing funds, training and explosive material, which can be quite, quite dangerous."

A week ago, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a series of bombings at Christian churches that killed at least 50 worshippers. According to Boko Haram's statement, "from now on, they either follow the right religion or there will be no peace for them."

Boko Haram wants to form a strict Islamic state in Nigeria, a nation that is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. Most of its attacks have been against local targets, but last year it set off a car bomb at a United Nations facility in Abuja that killed more than 20 people.

Ham said that intelligence is one way USAFRICOM is trying to counteract extremism. "Do we collect information across Africa? Yes."

One result of that intelligence-gathering in Africa is a renewed concern about Libya. "The breakdown of security in Libya has generated a significant flow of militants and weapons and has decreased legitimate cross-border traffic at a time of great economic fragility and turbulence," Amanda Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense on African affairs, told the same group last week.

For all the threats on the African continent, Ham's command is based not in Africa, but in Stuttgart, Germany. And he expects it to stay there. One reason is that no African nation has made a big effort to host a headquarters for America's newest combatant command, which was started in 2008.

"A large permanent military presence on the continent of Africa is not what any of us desire. And the reality is that in this period of fiscal constraint, simply the cost of establishing a new headquarters would be extremely high and not a cost that I could recommend," Ham said.

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Filed under: Africa • Libya • Nigeria • Security Brief • Somalia • US Africa Command
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. warrior

    THE Saudi Royal family supports these thugs-so do the Persian supreme guard

    June 29, 2012 at 2:13 am | Reply
  2. Portland tony

    50 Years ago, these rebel groups would have been called freedom fighters opposed to western imperialism. Now they are called Islamic terrorists. Today anybody opposed to the status quo is called a terrorist. For the West to insert itself in an independent country's politics appears to be more imperialism.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Quite true Portland, quite true. I must agree with your post above.

      June 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Wayne

      The west has hardly imposed itself yet, Ham is based in Germany. Would you condone bombing christian churches?

      June 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • Abilene

      Portland, I respectfully disagree. It is not the opposition of authority that is labeled 'terrorist' but the means that an organization employs to further its cause. AQIM, al-Shabaab, and Boko Haram conduct attacks against innocent civilians in order to spark fear and exert their authority. Muslims in these north Africa are far from persecuted, so I do not think it could be argued that these groups are "freedom fighters". They are simply unhappy that religious law is not the authority in their nation, and they use ruthless, violent tactics to further their objective.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:42 am | Reply
  3. Butch

    New, More Dangerous Hindu Extremist Groups Emerge in India

    Christians concerned as rightwing factions splinter to form militant outfits.
    PUNE, India, October 29 (CDN) — After more than a decade of severe persecution, India’s Christian minority is growing increasingly concerned over the mushrooming of newer and deadlier Hindu extremist groups.

    Gone are the days when Christians had to watch out only for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, which are closely linked with the most influential Hindu extremist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). With voter support faltering for the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), moderate and extremist sections within the Hindu nationalist movement are blaming each other, and militant splinter groups have emerged.

    Claiming to be breakaway factions of the RSS, new groups with even more extreme ideology are surfacing. The Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), the Rashtriya Jagran Manch (National Revival Forum), the Sri Ram Sene (Army of god Rama), the Hindu Dharam Sena (Army for Hindu Religion) and the Sanatan Sanstha (Eternal Organization) have launched numerous violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
  4. Chuck

    If we would stop being politically correct, and fight terrorism on their terms, it would end a lot sooner; when you catch a muslim terrorist, Cover him in PIGS BLOOD, and decapitate him,, and put it on Al-Jazera and tell the world this will be the treatment for ALL TERRORISTS...

    June 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Reply
    • Phunnie boy

      Thank you Chuck, we gotta do something about these awful terrorists and it seems like you have the right idea here. Maybe some day you'll be our President, too!

      June 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
      • Haji Rajiv Patel

        Sadly Gandhi
        Among the various charges disclosed in the book: Gandhi not only slept in beds with young women under the age of 18, but also engaged in a long-term, gay affair with German-Jewish architect and bodybuilder Hermann Kallenbach, for whom India's peace icon at one point left his wife in 1908. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

        June 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Sher Dil Afghani

      In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

      June 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  5. Islamic Terrorists

    Now THAT's a surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  6. Talibob

    Towel heads is what Towel heads do.

    June 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  7. Phunnie boy

    Gee whiz, I wish that CNN didn't print this article above. Now I'm shaking in my shoes and probably won't get a single wink of sleep tonight! We gotta watch those there terrorists or they'll be all over the place!!!!!!!!

    June 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply

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