Boko Haram: Background and Recent Attacks

Boko Haram: Background and Recent Attacks

Question: Boko Haram insurgents have killed 200 persons in Nigeria over the past week. The group has sought allegiance to IS. Discuss the background of this terrorist group and its recent terror attacks.


- Boko Haram insurgents have targeted mosques, churches and restaurants

- Islamists linked to IS have attacked people elsewhere in West Asia and Africa

- Boko Haram has killed more than 23,000 persons including civilians

- This has targeted schools in the northeast and branded Western science and education as “haram” or forbidden for Muslims

- In the month of April, 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Borno state which is a Boko Haram stronghold


- Extreme poverty in NE, especially Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states have made the region fertile for insurgency

- Chad and Cameroon nationals across the porous border with Nigera helped Mohammad Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram to gain access to weapons

- His successor, Shakeu transformed the terror group into Africa’s IS

- Failure to check Boko Haram played a crucial role in the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan who became the first Nigerian president to lose a re-election

- Successor Muhahhamdu Buhari has promised to crush the insurgents but this is easier said than done; endemic corruption, poverty and religious extremism are the major obstacles to be overcome

- Nigeria is the 10th biggest producer of oil in the world and has the highest GDP in Africa, but poverty remains an enduring problem here

- Militant islamist group Boko Haram has attacked Africa’s most populated country through assassinations, abductions and bombings

- Boko Haram also says that the Nigerian state is being run by non-believers;the group launched its insurgency in 2009

- Boko Haram targets civilians and military both

- Its official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad”.

- Residents in NE Maidugiri where the terror group is headquartered have named it Boko Haram which roughly translates from the Hausa language to mean “Western education is forbidden”

Facts and Stats

- Boko Haram was founded in 2002

- Initially focused on opposing west, it launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state and was declared a terrorist group by the US in 2013

- It declared the areas it controlled as caliphate in 2014

- Following the death of founder Mohammad Yusuf, Abubakar Shekau stepped up insurgency under the Boko Haram

- 3 States where Boko Haram is the strongest include Borno, Yobe and Adamawa; Boko Haram draws its fighters from the largest ethnic group in these 3 states- the Kanuri
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