American military officials say that two of the world’s most feared terrorist groups — the Islamic State and Boko Haram — have begun to collaborate more closely, raising alarm that they are working together to attack American allies in North and Central Africa.
On Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, the commander of the United States military’s Special Operations in Africa, cited a weapons convoy believed to be from Islamic State fighters in Libya that was headed for the Lake Chad region, an area devastated by Boko Haram.
Military officials described the convoy as one of the first concrete examples of a direct link between the two extremist groups since Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last year. The shipment, seized near the Chadian border with Libya on April 7, was carrying small-caliber weapons, machine guns and rifles, officials said.
This hot mess seems to get hotter and messier by the day. While ISIS was dominating headlines late last year, Boko Haram was still wreaking havoc and almost getting no notice in media throughout the world. Then, in February, they burned children alive and got back on everyone’s radar for a bit. They’ve been almost completely unchecked in the region without help from ISIS, so the thought of the two groups working together is truly horrifying.
The fact that ISIS keeps finding ways to broaden its horizons shows that whatever U.S.-supported fighters are doing to slow them down isn’t very effective. President Obama’s oft-lauded “professorial” approach and reluctance to appear to be committing the United States to wars all over the globe as he and his Nobel Peace Prize get ready to leave the White House may be keeping him from listening to the experts around him.
The rising threat from the Islamic State in Libya comes as Mr. Obama is being asked by some of his top military and intelligence advisers to approve the broader use of American military force in Libya and Nigeria. Mr. Obama, administration officials said, is mulling how large a military campaign to order for Libya, and whether to approve sending additional Special Operations advisers and trainers to Nigeria.
Whatever the president finally decides, it will hopefully come in time to prevent the working relationship between Boko Haram and ISIS from coming to full bloom.