By Jim Kouri
The African nation of Nigeria has warned the United States and European Union nations that the Islamist group Boko Haram deployed hundreds of jihadists to Libyan cities, including Benghazi, to offer aid to the Nigerian group’s ally, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The influx of Nigerian jihadists is expected to escalate an effort to take control of the Arab country that’s been in a shambles since the overthrow and execution of Libya’s dictator Col. Moammar Gaddafi.
Even more frightening to many are the reports that Boko Haram and ISIS are threatening that once they are in control of Libya and that nation’s resources including weapons, they will likely launch attacks on the Vatican in Italy.
Boko Haram, — which means “Western education is a sin” — has dispatched at least 200 Nigerian jihadists who possess advanced weaponry to bolster the already increasing numbers of ISIS forces in Africa. The current intelligence appears to prove the statements of those who are claiming there is a growing alliance between the two merciless groups are accurate statements.
Originally Boko Haram had sworn allegiance to what’s now known as “core al-Qaida,” especially its Yemeni-based offshoot known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But with the ISIS victories in Iraq, Syria and other locations, it wasn’t surprising to intelligence agents when Boko Haram decided it was time to join up with ISIS, according to Jeff Pierce, a former police department counterterrorism unit commander.
ISIS fighters, who continue their battles in the Middle East, are now fighting to take control of Libya — which has been in the midst of a bloody civil war — because the jihadists believe it is an excellent location from which to initiate an invasion of a European city.
With the new jihadists pouring into Libya to help ISIS fighters, according to former police counterterrorism unit commander Vincent Pollard, ISIS leaders are bragging on social media websites that they will use their victory in that African nation in order to launch an invasion of Italy, perhaps attacking the home of the Roman Catholic Pope in the Vatican.
“There are been threats made against Europe before, but now ISIS leaders and their associates have taken to identifying their prized target: the Holy City in Rome,” said Pollard. “ISIS has also created a series of illustrations and messages for the Internet including one that shows the black flag of ISIS above the Vatican and the Catholic symbols replaced with Muslim designs and artwork,” Pollard noted.
A man claiming to be a soldier of Allah, Abu el Gandal Barkawi, told ISIS supporters in a message to “go to Rome through Libya.”. The man also wrote: “The weapons of the Ottomans were launched and have surrounded Rome after conquering Libya to the south of Italy. Who wants to take Rome and Andalusia has to start from Libya.”
According to a number of news stories, ISIS has sought the strengthening of its ties with Boko Haram in recent months amid signs that its overstretched forces are beginning to be beaten back across the Middle East. In June ISIS declared territory seized by Boko Haram in Nigeria as its West African province
Nigerian counterterrorism expert Jacob Zenn told the news media in Africa that between 80 to 200 of the Boko Haram Islamists are currently fighting alongside ISIS jihadists in the Libyan city of Sirte, which ISIS claims is its capital in North Africa. The Nigerian government’s press office added: “There have been reports in recent times of some Nigerians departing to join terrorist groups especially in the Middle East and North Africa.”