US News quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on what has allowed Boko Haram to thrive in northeast Nigeria and what it’s going to take to combat the militant group:
This lack of direct confrontation has in part kept Boko Haram out of U.S. headlines and off of the American military’s immediate radar, says Peter Pham, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
“It’s not so much that they’re a direct threat, but their ability to carve out a – if you will – jihadist safe zone has significant importance down the road,” Pham says. “And if they succeed in carving out their little state, it’s not Abubakar Shekau that I worry about. It’s what he would create there that would attract other people. Because once they become entrenched, it’s going to be very hard to get rid of them.”
Though Nigeria’s GDP is the largest in Africa, according to the World Bank, Pham says Boko Haram has been able to thrive in Nigeria’s relatively poor northeast, where there are few reporters to document the militant group’s brutality.