10 Things to Know about Notorious Boko Haram of Nigeria
By Johnlee Varghese | May 7, 2014 10:40 PM EST
Boko Haram gained much international attention following their involvement in the recent abduction of over 200 Nigerian school girls, whom the group now threatens to sell into slavery.
Boko Haram fighters (Reuters)
Founded by charismatic leader Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organisation wants to establish a "pure" Islamic state, ruled by Sharia law, and is hence completely against Western education.
Here are 10 facts about the terror group, which has gained much notoriety for its ruthlessness.
- Boko Haram's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad". But it was given the name Boko Haram in the local Hausa language, which means "Western education is sinful".
- Since 2002 till 2013, an estimated 10,000 people have been killed in violence linked to Boko Haram.
- According to Human Rights Watch, during the period between 2009 and 2012, Boko Haram militants were responsible for the killing of over 900 people in various incidents of violence in the country.
- The group considers it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society, including voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers, or receiving secular education.
- Islamic cleric Mohammed Yusuf formed Boko Haram in Maiduguri in 2002. He set up a religious complex, which included a mosque and an Islamic school. The school was a recruiting ground. In 2009, Boko Haram carried out a spat of attacks on government offices and police stations, following which the government forces heavily came down on the group and the leader Yusuf was killed. His body was shown off on national television. Now, the group's main leader is Abubakar Shekau.
- Shekau, a former deputy to Yusuf, took control of the group after Yusuf's death in 2009. Shekau is known as a ruthless killer.
- Boko Haram does not recognize the Nigerian government, and wants to bring an Islamic state in the country.
- A 2011 US Congressional report had stated that Boko Haram was an emerging threat, and reportedly has links with al Qaeda in Africa.
- Boko Haram, in its signature style, often uses gunmen on motorbikes for assassinating police officers, politicians and anyone who criticises the group. It does not spare even Muslim clerics.
- Since 2011, Nigeria has been reportedly working with the US government and the CIA to put a stop to Boko Haram but the group still continues to thrive and exhibit its ruthlessness.
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