The Boko Haram
Terrorism is a global issue that has been in existence for some centuries now. It can be traced to as far as the 1880s when the first acts of a group of terrorists from Russia were felt. The group of Russians who terrorized people was formed by Anarchists who called themselves “The People’s Will” (Narodnaya Volya). The group existed up to the early 20th century. After their disappearance, they were followed by an anti-colonial wave that started around the beginning of the 1920s and ended around early 1960s. After their disappearance, the world received a new blow of terrorists categorized as the New Left Wave which was formed by people with particular agendas rising and disrupting the peace of the country. The groups of terrorist forming this category were extremists who had ideas and wanted to spread them to the rest of the members of the nation. A good example of this was the Red Brigades of Italy. The Red Brigades main agenda was to turn the nation against capitalism and for communism. The New Left Wave was in existence for two decades and then it was replaced by religious extremists who are still there up to date. They are the groups of people terrorizing the world and making world leaders have sleepless nights (Parker and Sitter).
Jihadists are the leading religious extremists who have given birth to many terrorist groups including the al-Qaeda. Many extremist groups formed later have been found to follow in the footsteps of the al-Qaeda and had even been found to have been supported financially by the al-Qaeda. Boko Haram is one of the numerous groups that derive their ideology from the al-Qaeda and is funded by the extremist group too.
History of the Boko Haram
The Boko Haram is an organization of terrorists based in Nigeria. The Boko Haram was formed in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf in the city of Maiduguri. Yusuf’s aim was to establish a Sharia government in Borno state which was under the leadership of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff at the time. Yusuf lead the group until his death in 2009 following an attack by the Nigerian Security force and sectarian violence where more than seven hundred people died. Yusuf was the commander-in-chief (Amir ul-Aam) at the time of his death and had two deputies (Na’ib Amir ul-Aam I &II). In each state where Boko Haram existed there, Yusuf had his commander (amir). He established a religious complex with a mosque and a school in his hometown where people from low-income families in Nigeria and the neighboring countries brought their children. Yusuf, however, had political goals and therefore the town later became the recruiting grounds for jihadists. The people recruited were therefore from the neighboring countries like Niger and Chad and those who spoke Arabic only. Within no time, the organization was able to attract more than 280,000 individuals from all over Nigeria, Niger and Chad (Agbiboa).
The residents in the country call the group Boko Haram which loosely translated from the local language Hausa means “Western education forbidden.” The residence gave the organization this name because of the organization’s strong opposition towards the education of the West and their support for the strict following of the Sharia law. The organization sees the western education as one out to corrupt Muslims, therefore, opposed to it (Ugwuona 54). The members of this organization range from University lecturers, political elites, unemployed graduates, bankers, drug addicts and as mentioned earlier migrants from the neighboring countries. In Nigeria, members are from communities like Kanuri tribe which makes up approximately 4% of Nigeria’s population which is in the northeastern states of the country. The Hausa-Fulani tribe which consists of 29% of Nigeria’s population also makes a good proportion of members of the organization. In recent reports, it has been revealed that a few of the members of the Nigerian security have a strong connection with the Boko Haram. Among them was the commissioner in charge of the criminal investigation in Abuja, Zaraki Biu. Biu is said to have aided the escape of a Boko Haram suspect who was responsible for the bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla that left more than 40 people dead (Agbiboa). Most of the Boko Haram members are attracted to Boko Haram due to the deep-seated issues facing the nation which are social-economic and [political like poor governance and corruption. Those who join the organization believe that the organization is capable of taking care of their problems. The once Islamic radical cult is increasingly becoming an insurrection and is supported by the alienated and impoverished member of the Nigerian society. Boko Haram has ideologies embedded strongly in the Islamic traditions. The organization is said to be influenced by the Qur’anic phrase: “Anyone who is not governed by Allah has revealed is among the transgressors” (Agbiboa).
Attacks by the Boko Haram
The Boko Haram crashed with the Bauchi state’s security agency as they refused to wear crash helmets as the newly introduced law required. The act led to a violent crash between the two entities, and as a result, 17 members of the Boko Haram died. The organization’s hideout in Bauchi state was ransacked and the security agency confiscated materials presumed to be those use in making explosives. The attack by the state’s security agency led to the group retaliating by attacking them which resulted in deaths of civilians and the police officers. The riots, however, stopped after the capture and killing of their leader Mohammed Yusuf. The remaining members retreated for a while only to come back fully prepared with new tack ticks. After the leaders had been killed, the group changed their strategy where they started having underground operations which made it harder for the security agencies to track them down. In 2011 Boko Haram announced its re-emergence which was followed by a series of devastating attacks on various parts of the country. The first in June 2011 where they bombed the police headquarters in Abidjan. The attack that followed was on the UN Headquarters which took place in August of the same year. By the October of the year 2012, 900 people were estimated to have died as a result of the attacks from the Boko Haram organization. The deaths were more than a combination of 201 and 2011 deaths that resulted from Boko Haram attacks (Agbiboa).
The organization operations since their re-emergence have involved the use of shooters on motorbikes, assassinations of politicians and police officers and even the Muslim clerics who have been found in disclosing information on their whereabouts to the state security agencies. The attacks have increasingly included suicide bombing as Boko Haram’s primary attack strategy. The animosity of the group is primarily driven by revenge for the extrajudicial killing of the leader and founder of the organization, Mohammed Yusuf. The frequently attacked people by the organization are the police officers at home, on patrol or even in police stations. The group has used improvised explosive devices, petrol bombs, and armed assaults during their attacks. Since the beginning of 2012, the group directed their attacks to the telecommunication infrastructure as they believe that the global system for mobile communications had ratted them out to the security agencies by providing their communication information (Agbiboa).
The primary goal of the group being to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state and revolt against the western education, on April 15, 2014, they attacked a girls’ school in Borno state kidnapping more than two hundred and fifty girls. The leader of the group released a video on May 5th threatening to sell the girls as "wife" and cited the organization’s ideology opposing the education of girls. The same day, the Boko Haran militants took advantage of the country’s military being distracted and attacked the town of Gamboru Ngala which was not protected killing over two hundred civilians. The abduction of the girls has prompted several countries to provide aid to Nigerian government by offering $300,000 reward to anyone who had information that would lead to the rescue of the girls. The organization is reported to be radicalizing and training some their kidnapped girls (Simonelli et al.).
Nigeria’s actions against the Boko Haram’s attacks
The Nigerian government has tried to engage with the organization for negotiations. There are some instances where the government has reached out to the group. For example, on July 16, 2011, Governor Kashim Shettima called on the group to come forward for dialogue. Another attempt was in 2012 when the president of the National Supreme Council on Sharia Datti Ahmad tried to reach out to the organization, but the group broke contact. The Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan also established a committee that would initiate dialogues with the leaders of the Boko Haram group. The committee was required to convince the leaders of the group to surrender their arms, and in return, the state would not charge them. The leader, however, responded by say that they were not guilty of anything and instead it was the Nigerian government which had committed atrocities. After this, the organization launched a series of attacks which lead to the president declaring a State of Emergency northern region (Agbiboa).
After the organization rejected all the negotiations and instead attacked innocent civilian, the Nigerian government resolved to pursue and crackdown on all Boko Haram members. The government established a special task force known as Operation Restore Order (JTOPO). The president ordered 8,000 soldiers deployed in the region to flush out the members of Boko Haram organization and arrest them (Agbiboa). The government is using all the resources they have in this fight against terrorism.
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