Boko Haram was established by radical Salafist Muslim, Mohammed Yusuf, who believed that following Western customs, both legal and societal, was against the teachings of Islam. He sought the liberation of Nigeria and the establishment of “The Islamic State of Nigeria.” To deliver his message, Mr. Yusuf started a school and a mosque that would communicate his religious complex to the public and help recruit “jihadis” for his movement. Slowly, the group began to grow.
Over the years, Mr. Yusuf was able to produce his very own army of radical thinkers that would serve to do nothing other than cause chaos in Nigeria and other West African nations. The group’s initial violent activities included village raids to gain resources and followers. Through such raids, the movement gained a degree of success. However, as the threat of Boko Haram became more and more apparent, government officials knew that they needed to take action in order to preserve their rule over Nigeria.
In 2009, after the group carried out several attacks on police stations and government buildings, the Nigerian military needed to strike back against the group in order to protect its power and its citizens. The Nigerian military was able to penetrate the group’s headquarters and neutralize its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, capturing many fighters in the process. This mission was seen as a huge success for the Nigerian government, which believed that it had brought the demise of “Boko Haram.” Unfortunately, a new leader, Abubakar Shekau, took control of the group. Since his rise to power, Shekau has proven himself to be much more violent and aggressive than Mohammed Yusuf was. Under new orders, the group has greatly increased the number of attacks carried out against the Nigerian government. The group has transitioned from ordinary attacks to bombings and attacks against the police and government in the Nigerian capital.
In 2013, as new fears arose that the group might expand its activities beyond Nigeria, the group was recognized as a terrorist organization. Boko Haram has been linked to the ‘Islamic’ State of Iraq and the Levant, with Shekau praising ISIL leader Abubakar Albaghdadi. Boko Haram has had a very large impact on the West African region.
The group’s attacks have induced a constant state of fear and panic. Fighters have engaged in innumerable unthinkable acts, kidnapping women and children under the illusion that their religion demands this of them. Given how lethal Boko Haram has proven to be, action must be taken in order to end their misguided tyranny. The first step towards ending the group’s false message towards followers is to reduce poverty in Nigeria and build an educational system that will gain the support of Muslims in the area.