Full List Of Nigerians Named In Massive Fraud, Money Laundering In US

 

US authorities have announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed the dozens of indictments after 17 people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.

Most of the remainder of those indicted were believed to be in Nigeria, the US Justice Department said.

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A statement from the Justice Department reads:

“A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.

“The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region. Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.

“The indictment alleges that the 80 defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise (BEC) frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars. According to a criminal complaint also unsealed today, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment – Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens – for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment.

“The indictment and criminal complaint allege that Iro and Igbokwe, who were among those arrested this morning, were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.

“The fraudsters targeted victims in the United States and across the globe, including individuals, small and large businesses, and law firms. Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly.

“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans from fraudulent online schemes and to bring to justice those who prey upon American citizens and businesses,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use BEC schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims. This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”

“Today’s announcement highlights the extensive efforts that organized criminal groups will engage in to perpetrate BEC schemes that target American citizens and their hard-earned assets,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims. The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cyber criminals and to dismantle their networks.”

“Iro and Igbokwe essentially were brokers of fraudulent bank accounts. According to the indictment, Iro and Igbokwe collected bank accounts, fielded requests for bank account information, provided that information to co-conspirators around the world, and laundered the money obtained from victims – all of this in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from victims of the various fraud schemes.

“If a bank account with a specific business name was required to trick a business-victim into making a payment, Iro and Igbokwe often coordinated with “money mules” to open accounts that could receive funds obtained, according to court documents. In addition to making the fake business name mirror the name of a legitimate company, members of the conspiracy routinely filed fictitious business name statements with the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder’s Office that were presented to banks when the fraudulent accounts were opened.

“Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account or a money services account, Iro and Igbokwe allegedly coordinated with others to further launder the funds. Members of the conspiracy sometimes wired funds to other bank accounts under their control; in other cases, they simply withdrew funds as cash or negotiable instruments such as cashier’s checks.

“When stolen funds were withdrawn as cash, the defendants frequently used illicit money exchangers to move funds overseas, generally avoiding transferring the funds directly through banking institutions, the indictment alleges. To do this, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the transfer of a victim’s funds from a fraudulent bank account they controlled to U.S. bank accounts belonging to illicit money exchangers. Those money exchangers, in turn, used a Nigerian banking application to transfer other funds in naira (₦), the currency of Nigeria, from Nigerian bank accounts they controlled to the Nigerian bank accounts specified by Iro and Igbokwe. This method was used to transfer millions of dollars to Nigerian co-conspirators without directly transferring funds overseas. The indictment alleges that Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson (who was taken into custody on Sunday), and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, were among those who served as illicit money exchangers for the conspiracy.

“Each of the 80 defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. A number of the defendants also face substantive fraud and money laundering charges.

“Additionally, Iro, Igbokwe, Ikogho, Ogungbe and three other defendants –Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria – are charged with operating illegal money transmitting businesses. Ogungbe and Mansbangura were also among those arrested this morning, and Umejesi is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities.

“Iro, Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha, 39, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their phones when the FBI executed a search warrant in July 2017. Iro also is charged with lying to the FBI in an interview conducted during the search. The complaint alleges that, when the FBI arrived to conduct the court-authorized search at Iro’s apartment in Carson, Iro broke his phone in half, while Igbokwe and Eroha threw phones from a bedroom window of the apartment. While Iro claimed he previously had broken the phone during an argument with his wife, the complaint details how the FBI was able to determine that the phone was operational until seconds after the FBI knocked on Iro’s apartment door to execute the search warrant. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the FBI executed the warrant.

“The charges contained in the criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

“This investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Department of State provided substantial assistance during the investigation.

“Several agencies provided support during today’s takedown or during the investigation, including the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the California Franchise Tax Board.

“Many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and foreign authorities around the world. In particular, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office thank the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Osnabrück, Germany for their contributions.

“This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.

“The FBI in 2017 issued a report on the rise of BEC schemes, and published a recap of 2018’s Operation WireWire, which was an international effort to disrupt international BEC scams. An FBI public service announcement that warns of the dangers of BEC schemes encourages businesses to “trust but verify.”

Below is a full list of Nigerians who were named in the scam list.

1. VALENTINE IRO, aka “Iro Enterprises,” aka “Valentine Obinna Iro ,” aka ” Obinna Iro ,” 16 aka ” Obinna Nassa,”

2. CHUKWUDI CHRI STOGUNUS IGBOKWE, aka ” Christogunus C. Igbokwe,” aka ” Chris Kudon ,” aka “Atete ,” aka “Still Kudon ,”

3. JERRY ELO IKOGHO , aka “J Man,”

4. IZUCHUKWU KINGSLEY UMEJESI, aka ” Kingsley Umejesi, ” aka “Armeni an Man,” aka “Kingsley LA,” aka “I zuking Aka Aku ,”

5. ADEGOKE MOSES OGUNGBE , aka “P & P Motors,” aka “Pp, ”

6. ALBERT LEWIS CATHEY, aka “Alb, ” aka “Abert Jag,” aka “Al,”

7. TITYAYE MARINA MANSBANGURA, aka “Tityaye Igbokwe ,” aka “Marina Mansour,” aka “Marina Mansaray,” aka “Marina Tityaye Mans Bangura,”

8. CHUKWUDI COLLINS AJAEZE, aka “Thank You Jesus”

9. EKENE AUGUSTINE EKECHUKWU, aka “Ogedi Power,” aka “Power,”

10. CHUKS EROHA, aka “Chuks Nassa Iro,” aka “Nassa,” aka “Prince Chuddy,” aka “Nurse Chuddy,”

11. COLLINS NNAEMEKA OJIMBA, aka “Collins Emeka Ojimba,” aka “Ojimba Collins,” aka “Charly.Africa,”

12. FNU LNU, aka “Xplora G,”

13. UCHENNA OCHIAGHA, aka “Urch Agu,” aka “Advanced Mega Plus Ltd,”

14. NNAMDI THEOJOSEPH DURU, aka “Duru Theo Joseph Nnamdi,” aka “Williams High School,” aka “Ifytyns,”

15. ERICSON UCHE OFORKA, aka “Oforka,” aka “Eric Oforka,”

16. MARK IFEANYI CHUKWUOCHA, aka “Mark Iheanyi Chukwuocha,” aka “Chukwu Mark,” aka “Markife,”

17. AUGUSTINE NNAMDI, aka “Nnamdi Augustine,” aka “Jazz,”

18. CHIEMEZIE CHRISTOPHER CHILAKA, aka “Fanta,”

19. CHARLES OHAJIMKPO, aka “Giggs,” aka “Ryan Giggs,” aka “Charles,”

20. STANLEY UGOCHUKWU UCHE, aka “Ugo Law,” aka “Uche Stanley,” aka “He is risen.Happy Easter!,”

21. CHIKA AUGUSTINE ODIONYENMA, aka “Tony Augustin Odionyenma,” aka “Chika Tony,” aka “CTA Finance Source Intl,”

22. PASCHAL CHIMA OGBONNA, aka “Chima,” aka “Paschal,”

23. SAMUEL NNAMDI ONWUASOANYA, aka “Sammy Lee Nnamdi,” aka “Onwuasoanya Samuel Nnamdi,” aka “Enugu Ogo,”

24. MACWILLIAM CHINONSO CHUKWUOCHA, aka “ChiBoy,”

25. EMMANUEL ONYEKA UZOKA, aka “Emmanuel Mansion,” aka “Mansion,” aka “Son of God,” aka “Ezirim Uzoma,”

26. JOSHUA ANIEFIOK AWAK, aka “Joe Awk,” aka “Kwee Tin Law,”

27. GEORGE UGOCHUKWU EGWUMBA, aka “George Ugo,” aka “Ugo Aunty Scholar,”

28. UCHECHUKWU SOLOMON EZIRIM, aka “Uche Nwanne,” aka “Uche Ezirim,”

29. AUGUSTINE IFEANYI OKAFOR, aka “Zero,” aka “St.Austine,” aka “Austine,” aka “Ifeanyichukwu Okafor,”

30. FNU LNU, aka “Okay Sam Mal,” LESLIE N. MBA, aka “Mystical,” aka “Nwachinemere Leslie,”

31. OGOCHUKWU INNOCENT IKEWESI, aka “Ogoo UK,” aka “Innocent Ikewesi,”

32. EMMANUEL UZOMA OGANDU, aka “Nwachinaemere,” aka “Uzoma,”

33. AMARACHUKWU HARLEY ANYANWU, aka “GodisGod,” aka “War B,”

34. BRIGHT IFEANYI AZUBUIKE, aka “Bright Bauer Azubuike,” aka “Ifeanyi Jnr,”

35. EMEKA MOSES NWACHUKWU, aka “All Man,” aka “Omalitoto,” FNU LNU, aka “Donatus Izunwanne,” aka “Izunwanne Donatus Chibuikem,” aka “Deworlddonmax,”

36. CHINWENDU KENNETH OSUJI, aka “Father,”

37. EUSEBIUS UGOCHUKWU ONYEKA, aka “Ugo UK,” aka “sly19 sly,”

38. CHIDI ANUNOBI, aka “Anunobi Chidi,” aka “Chidioo,”

39. ANTHONY NWABUNWANNE OKOLO, aka “Eric West,” aka “Erci West,” aka “Code,”

40. OBINNA CHRISTIAN ONUWA, aka “Papa Chukwuezugo,” aka “Obinna Onuwa Abala,” aka “Obyno Abala,”

41. CHIJIOKE CHUKWUMA ISAMADE, aka “Mr CJ,” aka “CJ,”

42. LINUS NNAMDI MADUFOR, aka “Madufor Nnamdi,”

43. CHRYSAUGONUS NNEBEDUM, aka “Cris,”

44. UGOCHUKWU OKEREKE, aka “Blade,” aka “Kingsly Cris,” aka “Okereke Ugochukwu,”

45. FIDEL LEON ODIMARA, aka “Fiedel Odimara,” aka “Ndaa,” aka “Dee Dutchman,”

46. KINGSLEY CHINEDU ONUDOROGU, aka “OBJ,”

47. DESSI NZENWAH, aka “Desmond Sage,” aka “Des Nzenwa,” aka “Saga Lounge,”

48. CHIMAROKE OBASI, aka “Chima Russia”

49. JAMES CHIGOZIE AGUBE, aka “Smart,” aka “Smart Agube,” aka “Smart Chigozie Agube”

50. CHIMAOBI UZOZIE OKORIE, aka “Omaobi,” aka “Mobility,”

51. OGOCHUKWU OHIRI, aka “Ogomegbulam Ohiri,” aka “Ologbo,”

52. KENNEDY CHIBUEZE UGWU, aka “Kennedy David,”

53. IFEANYICHUKWU OLUWADAMILARE AGWUEGBO, aka “B$$ IFF¥,”

54. VICTOR IFEANYI CHUKWU, aka “Ifeannyi Soccer,” aka “Vic Chux,”

55. CHIDI EMMANUEL MEGWA, aka “Cantr,” aka “Canta Jr.,”

56. PRINCEWILL ARINZE DURU, aka “Arnzi Prince Will,” aka “Arinze,”

57. DESMOND IWU, aka “Desmond Chigozie Iwu,” aka “Lalaw,” aka “Odo Desmond,”

58. ONYEKA VINCENT CHIKA, aka “Chyco,” aka “Chika Ejima,” aka “Vincent Chika Onyeka,”

59. IFEANYI KINGSLEY MEZIENWA, aka “Ifeanyi Ali,” aka “Ifeanyichukwu Mezienwa,”

60. VICTOR UCHENNA AGUH, aka “Orch Sod,” aka “Uche SP,” aka “Rich Homie Urch,”

61. KEVIN AMARACHI ESHIMBU, aka “Humble,” aka “Humble Amarachukwu,” aka “Dato Humble,”

62. VITALIS KELECHI ANOZIE, aka “Kelechi Vitalis Anozie,” aka “Kelechi Anozieh,” aka “Pastor Kel Anozie,” aka “Pastor Kc,” aka “Choice,”

63. WILLIAMS OBIORA AGUNWA, aka “Don Williams,”

64. GEORGE CHIMEZIE DIKE, aka “Chimekros,” aka “Slim Dad…No…1,”

65. MUNACHISO KYRIAN UKACHUKWU, aka “Muna,”

66. NWANNEBUIKE OSMUND, aka “Osmund Nwannebuike,” aka “Olivite,” aka “Nikky Bro.,”

67. CHIDIEBERE FRANKLIN NWANGWU, aka “Frank Chidi,” aka “Franklin Nwangwu,” aka “Agogo,”

68. DAMIAN UCHECHUKWU AJAH, aka “Uche Ajah,” aka “Ajah Damian Uchechukwu,” aka “Uchechukwu Demian Ajah,”

69. EMEKA P. EJIOFOR, aka “Ejiofor Emeka,”

70. LAWRENCE CHUKWUMA UBASINEKE, aka “Ubasineke Chuks,” aka “Chukwuma Ubasineke,”

71. CHINEDU BRIGHT IBETO, aka “Doggy,” aka “Doggy Lucino,”

72. VALENTINE AMARACHI NWANEGWO, aka “Satis,” aka “Satis Amarachi Satis,”

73. EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE DIKE, aka “Emmanet,”

74. JEREMIAH UTIEYIN EKI, aka “Uti,” CHINAKA DAVIDSON IWUOHA, aka “Tmrw Afrika Will Wake Up,” aka “Cookie,” aka “All Africa Media Network,”

75. CHIMA DARLINGTON DURU, aka “Kajad,” aka “Kajad Jesus,”

76. IKENNA CHRISTIAN IHEJIUREME, aka “Piper,” aka “Am Happy!,”

77. OBI ONYEDIKA MADEKWE, aka “Odu Investment,”

US Charges Chinese National For Stealing Energy Company Secrets

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues

 

The US Justice Department announced Friday, the arrest of a Chinese national who allegedly stole trade secrets from a US oil company he worked for.

Tan Hongjin, 35, was arrested on Thursday in Oklahoma where he lived as a permanent resident.

The Justice Department said he stole trade secrets “related to a product worth more than $1 billion.”

Tan, who lived in the United States for 12 years and has a PhD from California Institute of Technology, allegedly illegally downloaded hundreds of company files which included intellectual property related to the manufacture of the “downstream energy market product.”

The department said he took the files for the benefit of a Chinese company that had offered him a job.

The employer was not identified, but a LinkedIn page identifies a materials scientist named Tan Hongjin as working for the Bartlesville, Oklahoma research center of Phillips 66, and Oklahoma media also linked him to the company.

The arrest came amid a broad US crackdown on Chinese government-backed hacking and theft of commercial data and secrets.

On Thursday the Justice Department unveiled indictments against two hackers allegedly tied to Beijing’s security services who operated as part of a multi-year plan to break into the computers of dozens of US companies and agencies.

“The Chinese government is attempting to acquire or steal not only the plans and intentions of the United States government, but also the ideas and innovations of the very people that make our economy so incredibly successful,” Bill Priestap, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, told Congress last week.

FIFA Crisis: Jack Warner To Reveal All Despite Fears

fifa former vice president, jack warnerFormer FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner, has said that he will reveal all he knows about corruption at the world football body.

Mr Warner, who said he feared for his life,  said he could also link FIFA officials to general elections in his native Trinidad and Tobago in 2010.

He is one of the 14 people charged by the US over corruption at FIFA.

Another top FIFA official and key witness, Chuck Blazer, had admitted accepting bribes.

BBC says, the admissions came in a newly released transcript of Mr Blazer’s guilty plea from 2013, as part of a wide-ranging US criminal case that has engulfed FIFA and led President, Sepp Blatter to resign.

The US Justice Department also alleged that 14 people charged worldwide accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£97m) over a 24-year period.

Four others had already been charged, including Mr Blazer.

Jack Warner who is 72, resigned from all football activity in 2011 amid bribery allegations and later stepped down as Trinidad and Tobago’s Security Minister due to a fraud inquiry.

The former Vice President said he had given lawyers’ documents outlining the links between FIFA, its funding, himself and the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago. He said the transactions also included Chief Sepp Blatter.

“I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,” he said in a political broadcast entitled “The gloves are off”, on Wednesday evening.

He promised an “avalanche” of revelations to come out.

Mr Warner, who denied charges against him, and faced extradition to the US, was released on bail after handing himself to the Police in the Trinidad and Tobago capital, Port of Spain last week.

US Fines Bilfinger $32m For Bribing Nigerian Officials

Bilfinger SE, the German parent company of Julius Berger, has reached a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to pay $32 million as fine for involvement in a foreign bribery scheme benefiting Nigerian government officials to obtain and retain contracts for the $387 million Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) project.

An official statement by the US Justice Department says that from late 2003 through June 2005, Bilfinger conspired with Willbros Group Inc. and others to make corrupt payments totalling more than $6 million to Nigerian government officials to assist in obtaining and retaining contracts related to the EGGS project.

Bilfinger and Willbros are accused of having formed a joint venture to bid on the EGGS project and inflated the price of the joint venture’s bid by 3% to cover the cost of paying the bribes.

The statement further explained: “At another point in the conspiracy, when Willbros employees encountered difficulty obtaining enough money to make their share of the bribe payments, Bilfinger loaned them $1 million.”

Bilfinger has therefore pledged to implement rigorous internal controls, continue cooperating fully with the Justice Department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months under the 3-year deferred agreement.

The Chief Executive Officer of Bilfinger SE, Roland Koch, said: “We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us. In recent years, Bilfinger has consistently expanded its compliance instruments and today has a modern and efficient system.”

The Department of Justice in its statement “acknowledged Bilfinger’s cooperation and its remediation efforts.”

In a separate release, Bilfinger SE said it had significantly reduced its investments in Julius Berger Nigeria PLC (JBN) in 2012, in tandem with the scope of its strategic alignment toward engineering and services. Already the company has reduced its stake in the Nigerian business from 49% to approximately 33%.

US Justice department wants Boko Haram on international terrorist list

The Justice Department is pressing the State Department to designate Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant group alleged to be responsible for hundreds of deaths, as a “foreign terrorist organization,” according to a document obtained by Reuters.

Lisa Monaco, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, sent a letter in January to State Department counter-terrorism chief Daniel Benjamin requesting that Boko Haram, also know as the “Nigerian Taliban,” be put on the list.

A Congressional source said that in the last few days, State Department representatives have lobbied Congress to try to stop legislation which would force the administration to act against the group or explain why they had not done so.

On Thursday, Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Republican who chairs a House subcommittee on Homeland Security, introduced an amendment to a defense bill that does just that, after he said State officials inexplicably cancel led a briefing on Boko Haram.

In several recent cases, including that of the so-called underwear bomber, in which a Nigerian failed to blow up an airliner headed to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the United States has been handcuffed by waiting too long to designate a group as “terrorists,” Meehan said.

“Only later, after they’ve committed terrible acts have we put them on the list of foreign terrorists,” Meehan told Reuters. “To not have the capacity that it gives law enforcement to both monitor and to hold people who give material support to an organization like that, puts us at a disadvantage.”

Representative Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said: “Boko Haram claimed credit for the suicide bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 23 people and injuring more than 80 others.

“That meets my definition of a terrorist group, but if the administration has a reason why they don’t want to designate them, I would like to hear it,” Rogers said.

A senior State Department official said the department was “very concerned about violence in Nigeria” and added that it was “looking at this very carefully.”

The official insisted the department was “not stalling or dragging our feet.” But he noted that adding a group to the sanctions list is a “rigorous process which has to stand up in a court of law.”

LINKED TO SERIES OF ATTACKS

Congress has recently been at odds with the Obama administration regarding demands that a Pakistan-based militant group linked to the Taliban known as the Haqqani Network also be added to the foreign terrorist organization list.

Some administration officials have hinted that they are resisting putting the Haqqani network on the list in the hope that not doing so might advance continuing, but patchy, peace negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban groups in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Monaco’s letter said that in her view, Boko Haram meets the criteria for a foreign terrorist listing, in that it either engages in terrorism which threatens the United States or has a capability or intent to do so.

According to Monaco, since 2009 the group has targeted violent attacks against Nigeria’s “police, politicians, public institutions and civilian population.”

She said the group was responsible for an attack in December 2010 in which 80 were killed in a town called Jos; a June 2011 attack on Nigeria’s national police headquarters; an August 2011 attack on a U.N. compound in Nigerian capital Abuja; and multiple attacks in November and December 2011, including Christmas Day attacks on churches and other targets.

Monaco said that according to press reports, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for 510 victims in 2011, and also took credit for a Jan. 20 attack on government buildings in Kano in which more than 160 were killed.

Monaco said that although Boko Haram attacks until now have occurred only within Nigeria, the U.S. should not underestimate the threat the group poses to U.S. interests.

She claimed the group had forged links with “transnational terrorist groups,” including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a north African affiliate of al Qaeda’s Pakistan-based core group, and Boko Haram has “openly espoused violence against the West.”

In a March 30 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Meehan and House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King suggested some of Boko Haram’s most recent tactics have paralleled those of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, both of which have been linked to attempted – though unsuccessful – attacks on the United States.

Administration officials have said that U.S. government representatives will hold high-level talks with Nigerian officials in Washington next month and the issue of Boko Haram is certain to come up.

REUTERS