Who are Boko Haram … and what do they want? | Guardian Explainers

Who are Boko Haram … and what do they want? | Guardian Explainers

Boko Haram is Nigeria’s biggest Islamist
group. But who are they? They were founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf,
a cleric who had set up a religious centre in the northern city of Maiduguri. Boko Haram means “western education is forbidden”,
although the group’s official name means People Committed to the Propagation of the
Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad. At first they were nonviolent and even seen
as an alternative to the government in northern Nigeria. Education is very low, poverty is very high,
unemployment is very high, so Boko Haram seemed to be offering them an alternative to that. Their leaders would distribute money and alms
and help pay hospital bills, that kind of thing, initially. So they did have popular
support. But in 2009, they staged attacks on government
buildings in Maiduguri. The response from the government caused thousands
of people to flee and hundreds of Boko Haram supporters were killed. Mohammed Yusuf was also killed in police custody
and his group was declared dead and buried. So why are they still going strong? The declaration was premature and a new leader,
Abubakar Shekau, rose to the top of the pile and Boko Haram upped the violence. They graduated from crude attacks with homemade
bombs being thrown into beer parlours, that kind of thing, to the sort of large scale
abductions and attacks that we’re seeing today. So, they’ve been really radicalised, Shekau
is very hardline. They’ve become a completely different group to what they started off as. They also hit a number of religious buildings,
including churches, as well as their biggest international target – the UN headquarters
in the capital of Abuja. The violence continued to escalate and by
May 2013, the militants controlled much of their home state of Borno. The federal government will not rest until
the perpetrators of these acts are brought to book. President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state
of emergency and initially the army achieved some success. Boko Haram, who largely operate in three states
in the north, were forced out of their urban strongholds. But the attacks carried on – particularly
on schools offering a western education. In March and April 2014 they raided two boarding
schools in Yobe and Chibok, kidnapping hundreds of girls. Like millions of people across the globe,
my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken. The world got angry for a minute or two using
the hashtag, bring back our girls But then most of the world and the media moved
on to another crisis somewhere else. Boko Haram appear to be well-funded, and claim
to be part of a wider radical movement and it seems that Abubakar Shekau has been trying
to raise his standing in that movement with videos like this, praising the Charlie Hebdo
attacks. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram,
has several times said that he receives support and funding from al Qaeda. It seems that they
are connected into this jihadist movement. How seriously? It’s really difficult to verify
that. Nigeria ranked 136th on Transparency International’s
corruption perceptions index and resources that should have helped fight Boko Haram have
been siphoned off and disappeared. Instead the Nigerian army is under-resourced,
poorly paid and over-stretched and the militants have thrived. Recently, Boko Haram’s forces have overrun
military bases and attacks have spread into northern Cameroon. One point six million Nigerians have been
displaced and thousands have been killed, including the recent massacre of 2,000 people
in Baga, as Boko Haram attempts to carve out its own Islamic Caliphate in west Africa.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

25 thoughts on “Who are Boko Haram … and what do they want? | Guardian Explainers

  1. Who are Boko Haram… and what do they want? ► https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrhawIAGbpM

    Boko Haram is Nigeria's biggest Islamist group. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri in 2002, Boko Haram was initially a non-violent group.

    Subscribe to The Guardian ► http://is.gd/subscribeguardian

    But since Yusuf's death in police custody in 2009, it has grown increasingly violent under the stewardship of new leader Abubakar Shekau, culminating in the massacre earlier this month of 2,000 people in the town of Baga.

    #bokoharam #nigeria

  2. What do they want?  Either they're crazy and they don't know or care about what they want,  or their goal is a rational, political one.  Since they do not now have any formal political power, what they want is very simple: power. 
    This isn't that different than elections in democratic nations.  The candidates campaign, trying to convince the electorate that they will accomplish great things.  But first … they must have power. That's the democratic process for allocating power.  In many parts of the world, the process is violent, he who has the better bullies, gains power.  So, in the case of Boko Haram, we should ignore all the blather about God and righteousness, yada yada.  That's not their immediate goal, we don't really know what exactly they would do if they got what they want.  All they want right now is power.  We need not complicate our thinking with philosophical quandries concerning theocracies, freedom – religious, cultural.  Forget the arguments over the 'clash of civilizations', Christian vs. Islamic values and the rest.Our analysis, and any response that flows from it must focus on that simple fact – all we know they want is power.  Will we let them have it, or not?

  3. Lol, the Chadians kicked your ass today!! Bozo haram can only fight women and children! But when you face a real army with real soldiers (like Chad), you get your ass handed to you! Thank you to the fighting men of Chad for killing these murderers. Chad will beat Boko Harm all day long!

  4. 'Resources that should help fight Boko Haram have been syphoned off.'

    Is that code for "our government sold the weapons to Boko Haram because they placed a higher bid?" I sincerely hope not.

  5. Humm, a Us/UK backed government tried to crush a non-violent movement, killed its leader in police custody, and now we have a radical Islamist movement fighting our pawns in Nigeria, how unique, wait a minute….Iran?

  6. America and its dogs like Great Britain,Australia and others killed about 1 million people in Afganistan and Iraq and now they teach rest world how to live,even if Boko Haram is evil this evil is much more less then western world of hypocrites

  7. I'm not the first to say it, but it's ironic that the movement determined to forbid western education stand in front of vehicles – built as a result of western education, shoot guns designed and manufactured – as a result of western education, and publicize how stupid and vile they are via the internet – a product of western education.

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