This report addresses the regional ramifications of the rise of Boko Haram and evaluates the jihadist terrorist organization as something more than a domestic Nigerian movement. The report discusses Boko Haram's regional connections and the possibility of it expanding throughout West Africa. The architecture for Boko Haram to become an al Qaeda wing in West Africa or part of a regional terrorist movement may already be in place. The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) shares the same goal as Boko Haram and is also dominated by Hausa speaking members. Armed with weapons from Libya's caches and possessing operational ties to an Algerian-based al Qaeda faction, MOJWA may be the link between Boko Haram in Nigeria and a broader Boko Haram regional movement. The expansion of these terrorists in West Africa, and the possibility of Boko Haram franchising, could present a future threat to Western business interests in the area and undermine the region's fledgling democracies.
Jacob Zenn is an analyst for the Jamestown Foundation focusing on Nigeria and Central Asia and has contributed international affairs articles for publications such as Asia Times, Hurriyet, Yemen Times, and the CTC Sentinel.