Boko Haram

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram [Western education is sinful], Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist militia, officially Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad [people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's teachings and jihad]. It arose (c.2002) in Maiduguri, Borno, NE Nigeria, and has since spread across the nation's north, where Muslims are the majority and poverty is widepsread; it is especially active in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa in NE Nigeria, especially in rural areas. Frustration with Nigerian government neglect and corruption has contributed to the influence of the group, which is loosely modeled on the Taliban. Boko Haram also has operated in areas of Cameroon and Niger bordering NE Nigeria, but mainly has sought a safe haven and to recruit there.

Boko Haram mounted its first attack in 2004, and since then the group has been responsible for thousands of deaths. The sect demands the adoption of sharia, and has killed many Christians in church bombings as well as more moderate Muslims. There also have been bloody attacks on educational institutions, kidnappings of young women, and attacks outside N Nigeria. In 2011 a UN building in Abuja was struck by a suicide bomber from the group.

After Boko Haram's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009, the group appeared to fragment. At least one of the resulting splinter groups, Ansaru, which formed in 2012 and mainly has targeted Westerners in Nigeria, has formed an alliance with Al Qaeda. In 2010 Abubakar Shekau claimed leadership of Boko Haram.

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