Due to its abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls with the stated intent of selling them into slavery, the Boko Haram group has launched itself into the international spotlight as one of the most notorious terrorist groups in the world
Boko Haram was established during the late 1990s following the downfall of military rule in Nigeria. In its inception, Boko Haram followed the ideological teachings of Salafist Islamist Mohamed Yusuf, who later went on to assume the position of the group’s leader in 2002.
Upon the return of civil rule to Nigeria, Boko Haram started to expand its activities in the northern region of the country, and attempted to propagate its belief that the nation’s political system had been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims.
The group rejected the Nigerian constitution, claiming it did not comply with Islamic law, and demanded the return of the Sokoto Caliphate, an Islamic empire that ruled over northern Nigeria prior to British colonialism in the 19th century.
Some of the abducted girls wearing full veils appearing in the 17-minute video showed by Boko Haram (photo: Reuters)
Killing of Mohamed Yusuf in 2009
In 2009, Boko Haram carried out a wave of attacks on police stations and other government buildings in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, resulting in deadly clashes where hundreds of civilians and members of security forces were killed.
Nigerian security forces eventually stormed the group’s headquarters, capturing many of its fighters and killing its leader Mohamed Yusuf.
Following the killing of Yusuf, Boko Haram’s attacks increased in frequency and brutality.
Boko Haram leader Mohamed Yusuf who was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009 (source: timetoast)
Response to Boko Haram violence
The Nigerian government has been attempting to eliminate the group for over a decade. As part of a crackdown on the organization, Nigerian authorities declared a state of emergency in three federal provinces in northern Nigeria that are considered to be the main strongholds of the group.
In 2010, the US designated Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, amid fears that it had developed links with other militant groups, such as Al-Qaeda, to wage a global terrorist campaign.