Editor’s Note: Boko Haram is one of the most violent, and least understood, militant groups in the world. Despite this bloody record, many counterterrorism policymakers and analysts misrepresent the group's history and ambitions. Alexander Thurston, my colleague at Georgetown, has an awesome new book on Boko Haram (buy it here).
Alex Thurston is Visiting Assistant Professor of African Studies at Georgetown University. His book, Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement, was recently published by Princeton University Press.
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Editor’s Note: Ties to a terrorist group are rightly a stigma. However, given the nebulous nature of many groups, such connections are often easy to overstate. Alex Thurston, my colleague at Georgetown, argues that in Libya the United States has set the bar too high regarding ties to al-Qaeda. Instead, the United States and its allies should try to disaggregate the threat, recognizing that "ties to al-Qaeda" is a description that is often so loose as to be meaningless in the Libyan context. Instead, there are actors the West can work with to bring peace and stability to Libya.