By Julian Pecquet - 08/09/12 05:07 PM EDT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged Nigeria to create a multi-agency counterterrorism cell and offered U.S. expertise and equipment to help the country battle Islamist militants, The Associated Press reports.
Africa's most populous county and largest oil producer has seen its security deteriorate over the past two years as al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram militants have killed more than 1,400 people in northern and central Nigeria. Clinton met with President Goodluck Jonathan and proposed the creation of an 'intelligence fusion cell' that would combine information from the military, spy services, police and other federal, state and local agencies, according to the AP. The cell would also serve as a contact for foreign intelligence services.
Because of security concerns, Clinton was only scheduled to stay in the country for five hours, the AP reported, and won't stay overnight after the hotel used by visiting foreign dignitaries received terrorist threats.
Some lawmakers — including House Homeland Security panel members Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) — are pressing the State Department to label Boko Haram a terrorist organization. The Obama administration has so far refused, however, in part because the group is domestic-focused, despite its links to al Qaeda.