Continued from page 1

“It’s extremely extreme. It’s definitely Salafist radical. Their inspiration is the Taliban. They used to be the Nigerian Taliban. They’ve put out statements saying, ‘We admire what the Taliban did,’” Mr. Zenn said. “They kill religious and political leaders that are more moderate. They don’t show any type of mercy.”

In Mali, military operatives overthrew the democratically elected leader in a coup in March. Tuareg rebels, helped by Islamist insurgents, then seized control of the northern portion of the country in a matter of weeks. The insurgents later ousted the Tuaregs and assumed control of the region.

The Obama administration is motivated to remove northern Mali as a base for AQIM, which may have been involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The question of intervention

Mrs. Clinton met Monday with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers to seek his nation’s military and/or intelligence help in combating al Qaeda in the region.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved the concept of an African-led military force to aid Mali’s army in fighting the Islamic insurgents but has not provided any details.

Under one plan, Mali’s embattled government in the south and its West African neighbors would take the military lead to battle with the militants, with the United States and European countries in support, The Associated Press reported.

Any military intervention likely would require the involvement of Algeria, whose reforms have headed off the type of Arab Spring tumult experienced by neighbors Libya and Tunisia.

Mr. Zenn said Boko Haram has been able to make such significant gains in Nigeria in part because of government corruption.

Some Muslim government and military officials in Nigeria support Boko Haram’s goals of disenfranchising secular Muslim and Christian politicians as well as those who advocate electoral democracy, he said.

Mr. Zenn said Boko Haram has been trying to set up a shadow government in Nigeria and has begun intimidating civilians to pay taxes to it.

The United States could help Nigeria better safeguard its borders, Mr. Zenn said, and some sort of military intervention in Mali next year appears inevitable.

But he stressed that intervention has to be coordinated with West African nations so as not to create more instability in the region.

“We can root out the militants, but where will they go? Will they seep into Nigeria or Niger?” he asked rhetorically.