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|Turning towards Mecca|
“”The present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam, like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain or like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism.
|—Founder Mohammed Yusuf|
ISWAP, or the Islamic State's West African Province, The People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad, more commonly known as Boko Haram ("Western education is sinful" in Hausa) is a Sunni Islamist paramilitary group responsible for killing thousands of people across Nigeria. Founded in 2002, targets of Boko Haram ranged from banks to bars to churches, although it focused mainly on state institutions including the police and army, and argues that it is fighting authoritarianism and corruption. Reuters reports that Boko Haram was responsible for 10,000 killings in 2014. Boko Haram have caused famine in a state where they are active.
The group also has kidnapped some western tourists, many Nigerians, and has assassinated members of the Islamic establishment who are critics of the group. Boko Haram has actively opposed polio vaccination. The group claims inspiration from the Taliban and has demanded the implementation of sharia law in northern Nigeria.
Boko Haram originally pledged allegiance to al Qaeda as leader of the global jihad, but then flip-flopped to demonstrate how meaningful its oaths are by pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as Caliph of all the Muslims. After months of no response, DAESH finally acknowledged their subservience.
Boko Haram is a large threat to Nigeria, especially during election years. Many north Nigerian politicians have openly stated that Nigeria does not have the military capability to defeat Boko Haram and reports indicate this is true as Boko Haram's fighters are not only better armed but they are much more disciplined than Nigeria's military. This is supported by the fact that Nigeria has asked for international help to defeat Boko Haram, after the group launched a 2014 terrorist attack that killed up to 2,000 Nigerians and used several small children as "suicide" bombers in yet more attacks. The Council on Foreign Relations and the Congressional Research Service state Boko Haram was responsible for at least 5,000 deaths in the first half of 2014.
There are claims that Nigeria's northern politicians are supporting Boko Haram and these claims do have a degree of weight to them as there is some pretty strong evidence.
What makes Boko Haram so tough to beat is a mixture of ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria hampering a coordinated strike against Boko Haram, rampant corruption in both northern Nigeria and the Nigerian military along with low morale in the Nigerian military.
Some military successes against Boko Haram in the Spring of 2015 have been attributed to South African mercenaries having joined the fight, but the Nigerian army denies this (well, they would, wouldn't they?)
The rise of Boko Haram has also had other, unintended repercussions. In neighboring Cameroon, fear of Boko Haram and other groups known to use rape as a weapon of war, has led some parents to practice breast ironing on their daughters in the bizarre belief that this will make them less likely to become victims of rape.
- Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma
- Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists?
- Boko Haram triggers famine in Borno state
- Should the US fear Boko Haram?
- Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgency thwarting UN war on polio
- Nigerian death toll from Boko Haram attacks 'nears 1,000'
- Africa’s soldiers of fortune join fight against Boko Haram Financial Times, 26 March 2015