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Boko Haram, a Salafi-jihadi Muslim group from northeastern Nigeria, has been in the headlines recently, blamed for a string of recent attacks against the Nigerian government, UN peacekeepers and Nigerian Christians. The group seeks to make Nigeria into an Islamic state, and its name, Boko Haram, roughly translates as "Western education is sin."

There is considerable debate about what role, if any, the United States should play in the conflict, with some in Congress calling for the group to be designated a foreign terrorist organization. In this paper, Baker Institute Rice scholar David Cook addresses whether the Boko Haram poses a threat to U.S. interests in Africa and the United States specifically. He writes:

"Although the U.S. presence in the region is weak, there are a number of oil interests in Chad and Cameroon, in addition to the obvious oil interests in southern Nigeria and the uranium interests in northern Niger, that should be of concern. Therefore, it is clear that the United States should lend all possible aid, military and intelligence to the defeat of Boko Haram."