The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad (Arabic: جماعة اهل السنة للدعوة والجهاد Jamāʻat Ahl as-Sunnah lid-daʻwa wal-Jihād) better known by its Hausa name BOKO HARAM (pronounced [bōːkòː hàrâm], “Western education is sinful”) is an Islamic jihadist and takfiri militant and terrorist organization based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger.
Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organisation seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems “Westernization”. The group is known for attacking Christians and government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and police stations, kidnapping western tourists but has also assassinated members of the Islamic establishment. Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013.
The group exerts influence in the following Nigerian states:
In this region, a state of emergency has been declared. The group does not have a clear structure or evident chain of command and has been called “diffuse” with a “cell-like structure” facilitating factions and splits. It is reportedly divided into three factions 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.
Above is Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a still from a video taken 06.05.2014
Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight girls from a village near one of the Islamists’ strongholds in northeastern Nigeria overnight on 5th May 2014, while the United States made plans yesterday to help search for more than 200 schoolgirls seized by the militant group last month. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened in a video released to the media on Monday to sell the girls abducted from a secondary school on April 14 “on the market”. The kidnappings by the Islamists, who say they are fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria, have shocked a country long inured to the violence around the northeast.
They have also embarrassed the government before a World Economic Forum meeting on Africa, the annual gathering of the wealthy and powerful, in Abuja from May 7 to 9. Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their country’s potential as Africa’s hottest investment destination since it became the continent’s biggest economy from a GDP recalculation in March. The forum has instead been overshadowed by the crisis over the girls, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.
That has thrown the government’s failings on national security into the spotlight just when it sought to parade its achievements such as power privatisation and economic stability to top global business people and politicians. Police and residents said the eight girls kidnapped overnight were aged 12 to 15.
Boko Haram, the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer, is growing bolder and appears better armed than ever. In a separate attack early on Monday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen shot or hacked to death at least 13 people in a raid on a market town in the northeast, a survivor said.
April’s mass kidnapping occurred on the day a bomb blast, also claimed by Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja, the first attack on the capital in two years. Another bomb in roughly the same place killed 19 people last week.