Boko Haram forces appear poised to attack Maiduguri, a city of 2 million in northeast Nigeria — meaning that 200,000 Christians could be at risk of slaughter by the Islamist terror group, say U.S. intelligence officials and experts on Nigeria, NBC News reports. “An attack on Madiguri is very likely,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Project at the Atlantic Council, echoing U.S. intelligence officials. Pham believes, as do other experts, that Boko Haram has already placed “sleeper cells” among the tide of refugees who have fled the group’s murderous rampage through Africa’s most populous nation. “They’ve done it everywhere else they’ve gone,” said Pham. “So why not Maiduguri?”
One big concern is the large number of Christians in the city — about 200,000, most of them Roman Catholic. In previous attacks, Boko Haram has offered Nigerian Christians the opportunity to convert or be killed. Already, 200 Christian churches have been lost to the group’s onslaught. Strategically, success in Maiduguri would provide Boko Haram with a launching point for further attacks on the neighboring states of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, all of whose territory were once part of an Islamic caliphate that lasted six centuries, ending in the 1300’s. Boko Haram declared its own caliphate in the region last year.