oil; strengthening its relations with the countries that border the Gulf; and, increasing its military footprint in a region that has traditionally lain outside its sphere of influence. The GGGF will also benefit Nigeria by helping it combat the pirates and water-borne mili- tants who terrorise shipping in its territorial waters.
More specific to the north are the U.S. efforts to lim- it the area of operations of insurgent and terror groups based in Algeria. The most significant of these is Al Qa- eda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM). Known previously as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), its link up with AQ has breathed new life into its campaign against the Algerian government.9 Not that this has significantly increased AQLIM’s chances of achieving ultimate success. For Algeria’s security forces are now adept at dealing with the threats posed by insurgents and terrorists. Indeed, so effective are their counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strate- gies that they have forced the AQLIM and its fellow travellers to seek refuge in Algeria’s vast hinterland.10
As a consequence, however, Algeria’s neighbours to the south are now exposed to AQLIM as never be- fore. Episodes like the GSPC attack on a Mauritanian army outpost on June 4, 2005, highlight the very real threat this group poses to the governments and popula- tions of the Sahel and broader West Africa subregion.11 It now seems that AQLIM has made it a strategic objec- tive to become more active in these countries. Indeed, it has recently emerged that the group sent agents into Nigeria in June and July 2009 to assist the Boko Haram group in its armed struggle against the country’s secu- rity forces.
AQ’s growing influence in this corner of Africa is naturally of great concern to the United States and its allies. Nigeria is important both because it is one of the