Alliance Built Upon Necessity: AQIM, Boko Haram, and the African 'Arch of Instability'   [open pdf - 619KB]

From the thesis abstract: "This paper examines numerous linkages between two influential terrorist organizations operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and what would be the political and security ramifications on United States foreign policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa stemming from the enhanced partnership between these groups. I argue that containment of these groups and their current operations through overwhelming military supremacy does not project a sustainable way forward for not only the United States, but more importantly, for the international community. The ongoing instability in the Sahel could have enormous second- and third-order negative effects on the entire region. The threat both groups represent with their freedom of movement should not be underestimated. Both receive some form of active and passive support from their respected indigenous populations, and as they evolve, are becoming more sophisticated in their training, funding, and methods of employment. Regional Islamic safe havens could be created through the union of Boko Haram and AQIM as their modes of shared ideology, financing, and tactics move forward. Therefore, a strategy of moderate containment through enhanced engagement by leveraging all lines of operations, coupled with soft and hard power, will increase the likelihood of long-term stability."

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