Boko Haram is a terrorist organization situated in Northern Nigeria that started up recently but has quickly gained momentum in their continuous fight to uphold the laws of Islam and disregard Western practices.
Their primary agenda includes:

  • the belief that false Muslims who have been corrupted by the West are currently in charge of Northern Nigerian politics.
  • the need to wage war against these ‘false’ Muslims and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • a mission to establish and maintain a pure Islamic state in Nigeria governed solely by Sharia law.

Their name itself, a nickname provided by locals, is Hausa for “Western education is sinful.” The entire name of the group is Jama’ atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’ Awati Wal Jihad, which means the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad. The group began in Maiduguri in 2002 when a few radical Islamist youths declared the city corrupt and moved to the state of Yobe where they adopted an anti-state philosophy under their leader, Mohammed Ali. After a dispute with local police in 2003 in which many of its members were killed, Boko Haram moved back to Maiduguri and created a real ‘state within a state’ with its own police force.
The local government’s anxiety increased as the group’s numbers continued to rise. Soon enough, when people began to speak against their ideology, Boko Haram targeted and killed them . In the summer of 2009 there was a great police raid on Boko Haram’s mosque. Those who escaped roamed the streets freely killing Muslims and Christians, police officers and civilians alike. The uprising brought Boko Haram to the attention of similar jihadist movements and many experts suspect that the members who fled Nigeria were trained in insurgent and rebel training camps in Algeria or Mali.
The group returned to Maiduguri with a vengeance in the summer of 2010. They have since gradually progressed to more sophisticated techniques and explosive devices.

Boko Haram believes that Islam is the superior religion and that it is not being practiced correctly in the Muslim dominated North due to corrupt politicians and practices. To correct this “wrong,” Boko Haram has mainly targeted Northern and central Nigeria, causing fellow Muslim Nigerians great harm, while the majority Christian South has remained virtually untouched.


12 Northern Nigerian states already implement Sharia Law. Boko Haram’s violence, however, has not diminished.

This does NOT mean Christians are not targeted. As Boko Haram is concerned with Northern Nigeria, indigenous Christians from the North have been hunted down and killed in churches and their own homes. Human Rights Watch has even reported cases of proselytism under threat of death, where Christians were forced to convert to Islam.

A car bomb detonated by Boko Haram outside Abuja on December 25, 2011, killing 3.

A car bomb detonated by Boko Haram outside Abuja on December 25, 2011, killing 35.

Primarily, however, the group focuses on getting revenge against military, police and government officials of Northern Nigeria, by whom they feel threatened and oppressed, for jailing and killing their fellow group members and leaders.

Other than an attack on the UN compound in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, in August 2011, there have been no attacks on Western or international entities.

Boko Haram’s violence has been on a steady incline since the attack against the UN in 2011. In March of 2012 alone, 12 public schools in Maiduguri state, the group’s main center of influence, were bombed. A Human Rights Watch news report claims: “In the first nine months of 2012 alone, more than 815 people died in some 275 suspected attacks by the group – more than in all of 2010 and 2011 combined.”

Current President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan has attempted but failed to make significant changes to the situation with Boko Haram and has received a lot of backlash for it both from the public and Boko Haram itself.
In this “Special Message to Goodluck Jonathan,” current Boko Haram leader, Abubaker Shekau, surrounded by heavily armed group members with covered faces, proudly declares “Jonathan cannot crush us.”

Staying true to this message, just this month on April 6th and 10th, Boko Haram killed a total of 15 people in the cities of Jos and Babangida, respectively. The April 10th attacks killed four police officers while the April 6th attack on Jos, a city in the central Nigerian state of Yobe, left at least 7 Christians dead after Muslims from a nearby village allegedly broke into their homes.

The fault, however, is not entirely Boko Haram’s. As shocking as it may be to discover, the group’s atrocities have only been fueled further by the lack of a civilized police force. The police in Nigeria have themselves violated basic human rights principles both towards members of Boko Haram and the general Nigerian public.
For example, at spontaneous road blocks that are constructed to search for and prohibit the transportation of arms and weapons, police officers are bribed to calmly turn the other cheek. Once an attack has been reported, police have been known to swarm into the area, round up anyone they find, detain them for no apparent reason and let them go after extorting money from them without so much as questioning them about the attacks.
Several times throughout the course of the group’s history, Nigerian police have publicly executed members of Boko Haram without so much as a trial, only spurring their anger further.
The list of human rights offenses committed by the Nigerian police itself is great; they are therefore an unreliable source of security for civilians and an obvious enemy of Boko Haram.

The situation has not gone unnoticed by the heads of Nigerian government. In April of 2013, the Nigerian government, with the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan, offered Boko Haram an olive branch in the form of amnesty. The deal would most likely include some sort of payment and even training (to help members back into civilian life) in return for an all out ceasefire.
A few days after the proposal was put forth, however, it was sharply turned down by Boko Haram. The Associated Press got hold of a recording that is assumed to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on April 11th, in which he sharply denounces the idea claiming the government should ask for Boko Haram’s forgiveness, not the other way around.

To this day, the small group of radical Islamist youths turned intricate terrorist operation still has a strong presence in the Northern regions of Nigeria; Boko Haram’s violence continues to cause a disruption in a land that is desperately trying to find a way to move forward by incessantly pulling the country back.