Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram is using tension between Christian and Muslim communities as a way to expand its operations, a top human rights official said Thursday.
Franco Majok serves as program manager for Nigeria projects with Christian Solidarity International and travels frequently to the West African nation. Majok helps displaced Nigerians who fled violence in the country’s northern states.
Majok told Fox News’ Lauren Green in an interview that Boko Haram has connections to other Al Qaeda-connected extremists groups in North Africa.
“The [founders] of Boko Haram trained in Khartoum [Sudan] with Usama bin Laden and then they were sent to Nigeria,” Majok said. He sees the extremists as the “Taliban of Nigeria.”
Majok says many would-be terrorists travel to Sudan to train under the guise of an education scholarship. “Those people were sent to [Sudan] to train in terrorist camps and sent back to Nigeria.”
From January 2012 to July 2013, Boko Haram’s religiously-motivated attacks have claimed the lives of at least 366 people. They have bombed, burned or attacked more than 50 churches.
Their attacks are not limited to just Christians; the terrorist group has also carried out 23 targeted attacks on clerics or senior Islamic figures critical of Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people.
Majok says Boko Haram’s goal is to rule Nigeria as an Islamic state. “The country’s president is a Christian from the south and that set them off [because] how could a Christian be the president in a country where there are Muslims?”
While there might be a religious divide between Muslims and Christians in the country, Majok says we should work to prevent Nigeria from splitting in two. “If we allow that – Boko Haram will [succeed] and their eyes will turn to other countries in [the] region.”
Watch the full interview with Franco Majok above.
Chris Snyder is a producer for Fox News based in New York. Follow him on twitter: @ChrisSnyderFox.