Young girls take a ride in an open car boot on a street in northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on 0May 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO / AMINU ABUBAKAR
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When Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan branded Boko Haram "Al-Qaeda in West Africa," it was sure to sound the alarm among Western policymakers, if its kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls was not enough.Yet while Jonathan's remarks, made at a meeting of regional leaders in Paris this month, hold some truth, analysts say Boko Haram is overall not an Al-Qaeda affiliate in West Africa – nor is it likely to become one. Boko Haram's own aims remain thoroughly local and its behavior, especially killing Muslim civilians and kidnapping girls, runs against the Al-Qaeda leadership's thinking. This probably gave Boko Haram breathing space at the beginning, said Jacob Zenn, a Boko Haram expert at CTC.Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb did have firm links with Boko Haram but it is not clear how far this carried on after French forces kicked them out of Malian cities last year.Zenn said Jonathan's claim that Boko Haram was no longer just a local threat had some merit – there was a "financial, ideological and weapons transfer relationship," from Al-Qaeda without which Boko Haram could not have got so violent.
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