The spokesman's arrest – if it turns out to be real – could also turn up clues as to whether the Nigerian militant group has established links with Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has been kidnapping foreigners and launching attacks on governments from Mauritania and Algeria to Mali and Niger. The US military's Africa Command, based in Frankfurt, Germany, has been conducting ongoing training missions with Malian and Nigerian troops in counterinsurgency techniques.
Boko Haram, like the Afghan Taliban, is a radical militia that purports to abolish Nigeria’s secular system of government, and wants to purify Islamic society from the forbidden, or haram, elements of Western culture that have trickled into everyday life in Nigeria. The name Boko Haram, or “Western education is a sin,” is more common than the group’s full name, which in English is People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad. Late last year, Boko Haram urged good Muslims to return to northern Nigeria, and warned Christian Nigerians to leave the north or face the risk of attack.