A letter recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound reveals that a senior AQIM commander recommended that his group train Boko Haram’s forces. Other official sources confirm that AQIM did provide the training and also groomed part of Boko Haram’s leadership. However, one of the Boko Haram leaders identified in the letter later cofounded a splinter group known as Ansaru, which rejects Boko Haram’s policies. Ansaru has been supported by AQIM.
Boko Haram is seeking to hold territory in northeastern Nigeria. In a recent video, Boko Haram’s leader declared that his jihadists rule over the town of Gwoza as a “state among the Islamic states.” This was widely interpreted to mean an Islamic caliphate, but that does not appear to be the case.