U.S. officials are keeping an eye on three African Islamist groups that they say have the potential to join together and pose a substantial threat to the U.S. and Western interests.
It is reported that the groups, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; al Shabaab, in Somalia; and Boko Haram, in Nigeria, already collaborate to some degree, but have yet to formally ally themselves.
"Each of those three independently, I think, presents a significant threat not only in the nations in which they primarily operate but regionally and ... to the United States," General Carter Ham, the head of U.S. military's Africa Command, said according to Reuters. "Those three organizations have very explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target Westerners and the U.S. specifically."
Ham said that the U.S. plans to address the issue by helping to aid local governments in counterterrorism efforts.
"The Africans are better at addressing this than we are. In some cases they need some assistance and where we can provide that, we seek to do so," he said.
The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has operated on the continent since 2008 and is responsible for all military operations and military relations with African nations.
(Photo: REUTERS/Feisal Omar)