Boko Haram

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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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 Maidurguri, NE Nigeria, and has since spread across the nation's north, where Muslims are the majority and poverty is greatest. Frustration with government neglect and corruption has contributed to the influence of the group, which is loosely modelled on the Taliban. 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. 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. In 2013 he was reported to have been ousted and replaced by Abu Zamira Mohammed, but it was also reported that he might have died as a result of fight with government forces.

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