Boko Haram

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Boko Harām
Congregation of the Peoples of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad
Participant in the Nigerian Sharia conflict
Logo of Boko Haram.svg
IdeologySalafist Jihadism
Islamic fundamentalism
LeadersAbubakar Shekau[1]
Dan Hajia (in custody)
Abatcha Flatari 
Momodu Bama 
Mohammed Yusuf 
Area of
Northern Nigeria, Northern Cameroon, Southern Niger, Chad
Allies Ansaru
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
OpponentsNigeria Nigeria
Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF)
Benin Benin
Cameroon Cameroon
Chad Chad
Niger Niger
United States United States
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Canada Canada
France France
Singapore Singapore
and wars
Nigerian Sharia conflict
2009 Nigerian sectarian violence
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Boko Harām
Congregation of the Peoples of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad
Participant in the Nigerian Sharia conflict
Logo of Boko Haram.svg
IdeologySalafist Jihadism
Islamic fundamentalism
LeadersAbubakar Shekau[1]
Dan Hajia (in custody)
Abatcha Flatari 
Momodu Bama 
Mohammed Yusuf 
Area of
Northern Nigeria, Northern Cameroon, Southern Niger, Chad
Allies Ansaru
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
OpponentsNigeria Nigeria
Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF)
Benin Benin
Cameroon Cameroon
Chad Chad
Niger Niger
United States United States
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Canada Canada
France France
Singapore Singapore
and wars
Nigerian Sharia conflict
2009 Nigerian sectarian violence
Nigerian states where Boko Harām operates and that implement some form of sharia law (in green)
Nigerian states where Boko Harām has staged attacks

The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad (Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad),[2][3] known by its Hausa name Boko Harām (pronounced [bōːkòː hàrâm]; figuratively meaning "Western education is sin"),[4][5] is a terrorist organization based in northeastern Nigeria,[6] north Cameroon and Niger.[7][8][9][10] Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002,[11] the organization seeks to establish a "pure" Islamic state ruled by sharia,[12] putting an end to what it deems Westernization.[13][14]

The group is known for attacking churches, schools, and police stations.[15][16] The group also kidnaps western tourists and has assassinated members of the Islamic establishment who have criticized the group.[17] Violence linked to the Boko Harām insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in May 2014 claimed that Boko Harām attacks have left at least 12,000 people dead and 8,000 people crippled.[24]

The group exerts influence in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano. In this region, a state of emergency has been declared. The group does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command[25] and has been called "diffuse"[17] with a "cell-like structure" facilitating factions and splits.[12] It is reportedly divided into three factions[13] with a splinter group known as Ansaru. The group's main leader is Abubakar Shekau. Its weapons expert, second-in-command and arms manufacturer was Momodu Bama.

The Boko Harām leadership has international connections to Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al-Qa'ida core, Al-Shabab, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s factions, and other militant groups outside Nigeria.[26] Attacks by the group on international targets have so far been limited.[12] On November 13, 2013 the United States government designated the group a terrorist organization. On 22 May 2014, the United Nations Security Council added Boko Harām to its list of designated al-Qaeda entities, bringing "funding, travel and weapons sanctions" against the terrorist group.[27][28]

Many of the group's senior radicals were reportedly partially inspired by the late Islamic preacher known as Maitatsine.[29][30] Others believe that the group is motivated by inter-ethnic disputes as much as by religion, and that its founder Yusuf believed that a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” was being waged by Plateau State governor Jonah Jang against the Hausa and Fulani people.[12] Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of human rights abuses after 950 suspected Boko Harām militants died in detention facilities run by Nigeria's military Joint Task Force in the first half of 2013.[31] The conflicts have left around 90,000 people displaced.[32] Human Rights Watch states that Boko Harām uses child soldiers, including 12-year-olds.[33]


The group has officially adopted the name "the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad"[34] or "The Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Struggle"[35] are translations of Arabic[36] Jamā'at ahl as-sunnah li-d-da'wa wa-l-jihād (جماعة أهل السنة للدعوة والجهاد).

In the town of Maiduguri, where the group was formed, the residents dubbed it Boko Harām. The term "Boko Harām" comes from the Hausa word boko, which is originally derived from a Hausa word with meanings such as "fraud" and "inauthenticity",[37][a] and the Arabic word harām figuratively meaning "sin" (literally, "forbidden").[39] Loosely translated, the name could mean "western education is sinful", which would symbolize its strong opposition to anything Western, which it sees as corrupting Muslims.[40] Locals who speak the Hausa language are also unsure what it actually means.[41]

Literally speaking, the name may be meant to convey the message that "bogus education is sinful".[42] Dr Ahmad Murtada of the Islamic Studies Department, University of Bayero, Kano has noted in his research of the group that the name of the movement should not be understood literally from the Hausa, but rather as meaning "traversing the Western system of education is harām".[35]

As has been noted by Dan Murphy’s exhaustive research in his recent article for the Christian Science Monitor,[43] and also commented on by the Somali-born women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her piece in the Wall Street Journal,[44] a more accurate translation of Boko Harām would be “Non-Moslem Teaching is Forbidden.” In 2014, Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan dubbed Boko Harām as "al-Qaeda in West Africa".[45]


Boko Harām was founded as a local Salafi movement and turned into a Salafi-jihadi group in 2009.[6][46] It proposes that interaction with the Western world is forbidden, and also supports opposition to the Muslim establishment and the government of Nigeria.[47]

The members of the group do not interact with the local Muslim population[48] and have carried out assassinations in the past of anyone who criticizes it, including Muslim clerics.[40][49][50]

In a 2009 BBC interview, Mohammed Yusuf, then leader of the group, stated his belief that the fact of a spherical Earth is contrary to Islamic teaching and should be rejected,[51] along with Darwinian evolution and the fact of rain originating from water evaporated by the sun.[52] Before his death, Yusuf reiterated the group's objective of changing the current education system and rejecting democracy.[53] Nigerian academic Hussain Zakaria told BBC News that the controversial cleric had a graduate education and spoke proficient English.[52]

Dr Ahmad Murtada of the Islamic Studies Department, University of Bayero, Kano has noted in his research into Mohammed Yusuf and Boko Harām that the core principles of the group are: an emphasis on 'Hakimiyyah' [sovereignty to God's law]; a belief that they are the "Saved Sect" mentioned in the Prophetic Tradition of Islam; prohibiting studying in Western educational centers of learning because they consider them to be based on non-Islamic traditions and colonialism, they thus criticize Saudi Arabia for its usage of "Western" educational methods; prohibiting working in any governmental institution or civil service role; a contorted interpretation of the edicts of scholars from the classical tradition such as Ibn Taymiyyah to support their rebellions and use of violence. Influences include the writings of Ibn Abi Zayd, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, Shaykh al-Albani, and Shaykh Fawzan. Post-2009 a close relationship with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and further incorporation into the global Jihadi and Takfiri worldview.[35] Boko Harām's enslavement of captured women is an abandoned tradition as Maulana Bulandshahri explains.[54][55]



Several Nigerian Muslim authorities condemned the group and its ideology. Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the Niger State governor said, "Islam is known to be a religion of peace and does not accept violence and crime in any form" and that Boko Harām does not represent Islam.[56] The Sultan of Sokoto Sa'adu Abubakar, a spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims, has called the sect "anti-Islamic" and, as reported by the website, "an embarrassment to Islam".[57] The Coalition of Muslim Clerics in Nigeria (CMCN) have called on the Boko Harām to disarm and embrace peace.[58]


The Islamic Circle of North America,[59] the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada,[60] the Muslim Council of Britain,[61] the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation[62] and the Council on American Islamic Relations[63] have all condemned the group's actions.

Middle East and Asia[edit]

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, a Sunni Islam cleric, has described Boko Harām as misguided and intent on smearing the name of Islam.[64] Iranian Shia Islam jurisprudent Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi has denied any relationship between the Nigerian group and Islam.[65] He has described the group as "savages who do not deserve to be called human beings".[66][67] The Indonesian Ulema Council in The Jakarta Post condemned the group stating that "[Boko Harām] is not on the right path and contradicts Islamic values".[68] Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb maintains that "the actions by Boko Harām are pure terrorism, with no relation to Islam" and criticizes them for using religion to justify their nefarious activities which "completely contradict Islam and its principles of tolerance."[69]



Before colonisation and subsequent annexation into the British Empire, the Bornu Empire ruled the territory where Boko Harām is currently active. It was a sovereign sultanate run according to the principles of the Constitution of Medina, with a majority Kanuri Muslim population. The Bornu Sultanate emerged after the overthrow of the Kanem-Bornu Empire ruled by the Sayfawa dynasty for over 2000 years.[citation needed]

The Bornu Sultanate of the Kanuri is distinct from the Sokoto Caliphate of the Hausa/Fulani established in 1802 by the military conquest of Usman dan Fodio.[6] Both the Bornu Sultanate and Sokoto Caliphate came under control of the British in 1903. During this period Christian missionaries used western education as a tool for evangelism, which has led to secular education to being viewed with suspicion by many in the local population.[40][70][71]

Increased dissatisfaction gave rise to many fundamentalists among the Kanuri and other peoples of northeast Nigeria. One of the most famous such fundamentalists was Mohammed Marwa, also known as Maitatsine, who was at the height of his notoriety during the 1970s and 1980s. He was sent into exile by the Nigerian authorities, refused to believe Muhammad was the Prophet and instigated riots in the country, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. Some analysts view Boko Harām actions as an extension of the Maitatsine riots.[72]


In 1995, the group was said to be operating under the name Shabaab, Muslim Youth Organization with Mallam Lawal as the leader. When Lawal left to continue his education, Mohammed Yusuf took over leadership of the group. Yusuf’s leadership allegedly opened the group to political influence and popularity.[73] The group was originally established at Ibn Taymiyyah mosque, which was named after Boko Harām's spiritual head.[74]

Yusuf officially founded the group in 2002 in the city of Maiduguri with the aim of establishing a Shari'a government in Borno State under then-Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.[72] He established a religious complex that included a mosque and a school where many poor families from across Nigeria and from neighbouring countries enrolled their children.[40]

The center had ulterior political goals and soon it was also working as a recruiting ground for future jihadis to fight the state.[40] The group includes members who come from neighbouring Chad and Niger and speak only Arabic.[75]

In 2004 the complex was relocated to Yusuf's home state of Yobe in the village Kanamma near the Niger border.[53][76]

Human Rights Watch researcher Eric Guttschuss told IRIN News that Yusuf successfully attracted followers from unemployed youth "by speaking out against police and political corruption". Abdulkarim Mohammed, a researcher on Boko Harām, added that violent uprisings in Nigeria are ultimately due to "the fallout of frustration with corruption and the attendant social malaise of poverty and unemployment".[77] Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, while pointing out that "where governments are weak, corrupt or non-existent, the message of Boko Harām and its counterparts is especially compelling," argues that this is a dynamic common to Islamic societies worldwide and reflects the darker side of the religious message.[78] Chris Kwaja, a Nigerian university lecturer and researcher, asserts that “religious dimensions of the conflict have been misconstrued as the primary driver of violence when, in fact, disenfranchisement and inequality are the root causes”. Nigeria, he points out, has laws giving regional political leaders the power to qualify people as 'indigenes' (original inhabitants) or not. It determines whether citizens can participate in politics, own land, obtain a job, or attend school. The system is abused widely to ensure political support and to exclude others. Muslims have been denied indigene-ship certificates disproportionately often.[79]°

Nigerian opposition leader Buba Galadima says: "What is really a group engaged in class warfare is being portrayed in government propaganda as terrorists in order to win counter-terrorism assistance from the West."[80]

Beginning of violence[edit]

The group conducted its operations more or less peacefully during the first seven years of its existence[6] (with an exception of some skirmishes in Kannama in 2004).[76] That changed in 2009 when the Nigerian government launched an investigation into the group's activities following reports that its members were arming themselves.[81] Prior to that the government reportedly repeatedly ignored warnings about the increasingly militant character of the organization, including that of a military officer.[81]

In the wake of the 2009 crackdown on its members and its subsequent reemergence, the growing frequency and geographical range of attacks attributed to Boko Harām have led some political and religious leaders in the north to the conclusion that the group has now expanded beyond its original religious composition to include not only Islamic militants, but criminal elements and disgruntled politicians as well. For instance Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima said of Boko Harām: “[they have] become a franchise that anyone can buy into. It's something like a Bermuda Triangle.”[82] The group has also forcibly converted non-Muslims to Islam.[83]

When the government came into action, several members of the group were arrested in Bauchi, sparking deadly clashes with Nigerian security forces which led to the deaths of an estimated 700 people. During the fighting with the security forces Boko Harām fighters reportedly "used fuel-laden motorcycles" and "bows with poison arrows" to attack a police station.[84] The group's founder and then leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed during this time while in police custody.[85][86][87] After Yusuf's killing, a new leader emerged whose identity was not known at the time.[88]


After the killing of Mohammed Yusuf, the group carried out its first attack in Borno in January 2011. It resulted in the killing of four people.[89] Abubakar Shekau, a former deputy to Yusuf, took control of the group after Yusuf's death in 2009. Shekau has been described as "an intensely private bookish theologian and ruthless killer, and rules a fractured organization".[90][91][92] Since Shekau's rise, the violence has only escalated in terms of both frequency and intensity.

State counter-offensive[edit]

According to Human Rights Watch, during the period between 2009 and beginning of 2012, Boko Harām was responsible for over 900 deaths.[93]

On 14 May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa in a bid to fight the activities of Boko Harām. He ordered the Nigerian Armed Forces to the three areas around Lake Chad.[94] As of 17 May, Nigerian armed forces' shelling in Borno resulted in at least 21 deaths.[95] A curfew was imposed in Maiduguri as the military used air strikes and shellings to target Boko Harām strongholds.[96] The Nigerian state imposed a blockade on the group's traditional base of Maiduguri in Borno in order to re-establish Nigeria's "territorial integrity".[97]

On 21 May, the Defence Ministry issued a statement that read it had "secured the environs of New Marte, Hausari, Krenoa, Wulgo and Chikun Ngulalo after destroying all the terrorists' camps". Armed Forces Spokesman in Borno Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa said that the curfew that had been imposed was not relaxed with the curfew timings being 18:00 to 7:00, however there was minimal traffic in Maiduguri.[98]

On 29 May, Boko Harām's leader Abubakar Shekau, following military claims that the group had been halted,[99] released a video in which he said the group had not lost to the Nigerian armed forces. In the video he showed charred military vehicles and bodies dressed in military fatigues. While he called on Muslims from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria to join his jihad, he said in Arabic and Hausa:[100]

My fellow brethren from all over the world, I assure you that we are strong, hale and hearty since they launched this assault on us following the state of emergency declaration. When they launch any attack on us you see soldiers fleeing and throwing away their weapons like a rabbit that is been hunted down.

On the same day, Nigeria's Director of Defence Information Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade said that Shekau's unnamed deputy was found dead near Lake Chad and that two others from Boko Harām were arrested in the area. However, the military's claims were not verified.[101]

Satellite photos raise questions about the government's retaliatory attack on Boko Harām on April 16–17, 2013. Over 180 died, mostly from fires that appeared to be deliberately set during the government attack. Boko Harām fighters and civilians died in the attack.[102][103] The people of Maiduguri were unhappy with the declaration of war on the group and instead said the issues of poverty and inequality needed to be tackled first.[104]

It was reported in August 2013 that Shekau had been shot and deposed by members of his sect,[105] but he survived. He had been described as "the most dreaded and wanted" Boko Harām leader and the United States had recently offered a US$7m bounty for information leading to his arrest.[106] He has taken responsibility for the April 2014 kidnapping of over 200 school girls.[91] On 6 May 2014, eight more girls were kidnapped by suspected Boko Harām gunmen.[107][108] In a videotape, Shekau threatened to sell the kidnapped girls into slavery.[109] On May 12, 2014 Boko Harām released a video which shows the kidnapped girls and alleging that the girls had converted to Islam and would not be released until all militant prisoners were freed.[110] On May 17, 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the presidents of Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger met in Paris and agreed to combat Boko Harām on a coordinated basis, sharing in particular surveillance and intelligence gathering. Chad President Idriss Deby said after the meeting African nations were determined to launch a total war on Boko Harām. Westen nations, including Britain, France, Israel, and the United States had also pledged support.[111][112]

On 22 May 2014 Boko Harām was officially declared a terrorist group affiliated to Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb by the United Nations Security Council.[113] International sanctions including asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo were imposed against the Islamist extremist group.[114]

On May 2014, Nigerian soldiers shot at the car of their divisional commander whom they suspected of colluding with Boko Harām and it was reported that nine Nigerian generals were being investigated for suspected sale of weapons to Boko Harām.[115]

Timeline of Boko Harām attacks in Nigeria[edit]

Timeline of incidents
7 September 2010Bauchi prison break[116]
31 December 2010December 2010 Abuja attack[117]
12 March 2011Assassinated Muslim Cleric Imam Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi for criticizing the violent groups in northeast Nigeria[50]
22 April 2011Boko Harām frees 14 prisoners during a jailbreak in Yola, Adamawa State[118]
29 May 2011May 2011 northern Nigeria bombings[119]
16 June 2011The group claims responsibility for the 2011 Abuja police headquarters bombing[120][121]
26 June 2011Bombing attack on a beer garden in Maiduguri, leaving 25 dead and 12 injured[122][123]
10 July 2011Bombing at the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State[124]
11 July 2011The University of Maiduguri temporarily closes down its campus citing security concerns[125]
12 August 2011Prominent Muslim Cleric Liman Bana is shot dead by Boko Harām.[49]
26 August 20112011 Abuja bombing[126]
4 November 20112011 Damaturu attacks[121][127][128]
25 December 2011December 2011 Nigeria bombings[129]
5–6 January 2012January 2012 Nigeria attacks[130]
20 January 2012January 2012 Kano bombings[131][132]
28 January 2012Nigerian army says it killed 11 Boko Harām insurgents[133]
8 February 2012Boko Harām claims responsibility for a suicide bombing at the army headquarters in Kaduna.[134]
16 February 2012Another prison break staged in central Nigeria; 119 prisoners are released, one warden killed.[135]
8 March 2012During a British hostage rescue attempt to free Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus, abducted in 2011 by a splinter group Boko Harām, both hostages were killed.[136]
31 May 2012During a Joint Task Force raid on a Boko Harām den, it was reported that 5 sect members and a German hostage were killed.[137]
3 June 201215 church-goers were killed and several injured in a church bombing in Bauchi state. Boku Harām claimed responsibility through spokesperson Abu Qaqa.[138]
17 June 2012Suicide bombers strike three churches in Kaduna State. At least 50 people were killed.[139][140]
17 June 2012130 bodies were found in Plateau State. It is presumed they were killed by Boko Harām terrorists.[141]
18 September 2012Family of four murdered[142]
18 September 2012Murder of six at an outdoor party[142]
19 September 2012Nigerian Military arrests Boko Harām militants, reported death of Abu Qaqa[143]
3 October 2012Around 25–46 people were massacred in the town of Mubi in Nigeria during a night-time raid.[144]
18 March 20132013 Kano Bus bombing: At least 22 killed and 65 injured, when a suicide car bomb exploded in Kano bus station.
7 May 2013At least 55 killed and 105 inmates freed in coordinated attacks on army barracks, a prison and police post in Bama town.[145]
6 July 2013Yobe State school shooting: 42 people, mostly students, were killed in a school attack in northeast Nigeria.[146]
29 September 2013College of Agriculture in Gujba: 40 male students killed.[147]
14 January 2014At least 31 people killed, over 50 people injured by suicide bombing in Maiduguri, Borno State.[148]
16 February 2014Izghe massacre: 106 villagers are killed, 105 of whom were boys and men.[149]
25 February 2014Federal Government College attack: Fury at military over Yobe deaths. At least 29 teenage boys dead at Federal Government College Buni Yadi.[150]
14 April 20142014 Chibok kidnapping: Government properties, including the only girls' secondary school, attacked. At least 16 killed or missing, and 234 female students kidnapped. The Boko Harām militants said it would treat them as slaves as part of the "war booty".[40]
14 April 2014April 2014 Abuja bombing: Two bombs explode at a crowded bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, killing at least 90 people and injuring more than 200.
1 May 2014A car bomb exploded killing at least 19 people and injured at least 60 in the same area of Abuja as the April bomb.[151]
5 May 20142014 Gamburu attack: Boko Harām attacked the twin towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria. They started shooting in a busy marketplace, set houses on fire, and gunned down anyone who tried to flee. The death toll of the massacre has been set as high as 336.
13 May 2014Menari, Tsangayari and Garawa: Boko Harām attacked three villages, killing around 60 people in Menari. Vigilantes fought back, killing over 200 Boko Harām militants.[152]
17 May 2014Paris summit: A summit in Paris has declared Boko Harām is part of al-Qaeda as leaders from West African nations resolved to mount a region-wide offensive against the group that is holding more than 200 schoolgirls hostage in a dense jungle.[153] Western nations have pledged to provide technical expertise and training to the new regional African effort against the Islamic extremists.[154]
18 May 2014Kano: Suicide car bomb kills five people.[155]
20 May 2014Jos: Twin bomb explosions kill 118 people.
30 May 2014Assassination of Muslim leader Alhaji Idrissa Timta the Emir of Gwoza in Borno state.[156]
1 June 2014Mubi bombing: An attack at a football field in Mubi, Adamawa state kills at least 40 people.[157]
2 June 2014Militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 civilians in three communities in northeastern Nigeria's Borno state, in the Gwoza local government district. A community leader who witnessed the Monday killings had said that local residents had pleaded for help from the military, but it did not arrive in time. It took a few days for word from survivors to reach the provincial capital of Maiduguri, because the roads are extremely dangerous and phone connections are poor or nonexistent. The slaughter was confirmed by both Mohammed Ali Ndume, a senator representing Borno and whose hometown is Gwoza, and by a top security official in Maiduguri who insisted on anonymity.[158]


Motorcycles are a trademark mode of transport for Boko Harām.[29][159]

A study by the International Center of Counter-Terrorism suggests how economic abuse, class discrimination and social injustice prevent citizens from reaching their full potential and thereby fuel public support for Boko Harām. The study also refers to the United Nations resolution 3034, elaborating on measures to prevent terrorism.[160][161]

Nigeria's former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Andrew Azazi, has been working with other African governments, European and Middle Eastern governments, and the U.S. government to build cooperation against Boko Harām. He met in 2010 with CIA Director Leon Panetta, and in 2011 with AFRICOM Commander General Ham, and other U.S. officials, and was in the United States when the congressional panel was preparing its report on Boko Harām. He participated in a CIA conference at about the same time.[162] After the Christmas 2011 bombings carried out by Boko Harām, US President Barack Obama's office issued a statement that confirmed that the US and Nigeria were cooperating against the group.[163]

Randy Short, an American activist,[164] said he suspected that Boko Harām is a covert CIA operation to enforce US foreign policy in Nigeria and also to gain entrance to secure the newly found oil in Northern Nigeria(Lake Chad Basin).[165]

Strategy and recruiting[edit]

In March 2012, it was reported that Boko Harām had taken a strategy to simulate convoys of high-profile Nigerians to access target buildings that are secured with fortifications. Boko Harām has also reportedly attacked Christian worship centers to "trigger reprisal in all parts of the country", distracting authorities so they can unleash attacks elsewhere.

The group is also known for using motorcycles as their vehicle of choice to assassinate government officials and security officers. This has led to motorcycle bans in the city of Maiduguri.[159]

It was gathered that the group uses the Internet to propagate its activities and enhance its radicalisation and circulation of extremist ideologies. Boko Harām is reportedly planning to greatly increase its following in many states. Talk of Naija reported that Boko Harām has been involved in a recruitment drive, and they are allegedly targeting Muslims between ages of 17 and 30, and have also been recruiting freed prisoners through prison breaks. The group is also known to assign non-Kanuris on suicide missions.[73]


Funding sources for Boko Harām are not certain, but is believed to be partially funded by bank robberies[17][166][167] and by other Islamist groups. In February 2012, recently arrested officials revealed that "while the organization initially relied on donations from members, its links with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, opened it up to more funding from groups in Saudi Arabia and the UK". They went on to say that other sources of funding included the Al Muntada Trust Fund and the Islamic World Society.[168][169]

In the past, Nigerian officials have been criticized for being unable to trace much of the funding that Boko Harām has received.[170]

The group also extorts local governments for so-called "protection money". A spokesman of Boko Harām claimed that Kano state governor Ibrahim Shekarau and Bauchi state governor Isa Yuguda had paid them monthly.[171][172]

Boko Harām is designated by the US Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and so, it is banned from receiving funds from the US or US nationals.[173][174][175]

Notable people that have access to the sect[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A folk etymology derives boko from "book"; this is rejected by linguists.[38]


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  2. ^ "Nigeria policemen in court trial for Boko Haram killing". BBC News. 13 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Innermost thoughts of The Islamist group Boko Haram". Reporters Without Borders. 
  4. ^ Obinna, Ogbonnaya (29 September 2011). "Boko Haram is battle for 2015, says Chukwumerije". The Nation. 
  5. ^ Murphy, Dan (6 May 2014). "Boko Haram doesn't really mean Western education is a sin". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  6. ^ a b c d Cook, David (26 September 2011). "The Rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria". Combating Terrorism Centre. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  7. ^ Ibeh, Nnenna (June 5, 2013). "Boko Haram members flee to Niger as Nigerian military arrest 55 terrorists in Yobe, Borno". The Premium Times. Retrieved June 2013. 
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  11. ^ "Boko Haram: Rocking the Nigerian boat". France24. 27 December 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d Walker, Andrew (June 2012). "What is Boko Haram?" (PDF). US Institute of Peace. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Dozens killed in Nigeria clashes". Al Jazeera. 24 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  14. ^ Olugbode, Michael (2 February 2011). "Nigeria: We Are Responsible for Borno Killings, Says Boko Haram". All Africa. Retrieved 31 January 2012. "The sect in posters written in Hausa and pasted across the length and breadth of Maiduguri Wednesday morning signed by the Warriors of Jamaatu Ahlis Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad led by Imam Abu Muhammed Abubakar Bi Muhammed a.k.a. Shehu claimed they embarked on the killings in Borno ‘in an effort to establish Sharia system of government in the country’." 
  15. ^ Lobel, Mark (30 April 2012). "Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university". BBC. Retrieved 5 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Nigeria: Dozens dead in church bombings and rioting". BBC. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c Campbell, John (1 October 2013). "Should US fear Boko Haram?". October 1, 2013 (CNN). Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Nigeria school attack claims 42 lives". The Australian. AFP. 6 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "School attack kills 30 in northeast Nigeria". Newsday. AP. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
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