Boko Haram is a terrorist organization with its roots in northeastern Nigeria, linked to insurgency stemming from north Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“Boko Haram” is a Hausa name which translates roughly as “Western education is forbidden”, while the real Arabic name translates as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad”.
The sect was founded in 2002 by the late Mohammed Yusuf who was captured and executed by the Nigerian security forces in 2009. Until the government clamped down on the sect’s activities in 2009, the operations conducted by the sect were more or less peaceful. Since Abubakar Shekau, a former deputy to Yusuf’s era, violent attacks have escalated in terms of both frequency and intensity.
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The sect seeks to establish a “pure” Islamic state ruled by Sharia, putting a stop to what it deems Westernization. It proposes that interaction with the Western world is forbidden, and also supports opposition to the Muslim establishment and the government of Nigeria.
The group is known for attacking Christians, Muslim clerics and government targets, as well as for bombing churches, mosques, schools and police stations. The group is also notorious for kidnappings. The violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in an estimated 20,000 deaths between 2002 and 2015.
On November 13, 2013, the United States government designated the group a terrorist organization. On May 22, 2014, the United Nations Security Council added Boko Haram to its list of designated al-Qaeda entities, bringing “funding, travel and weapons sanctions” against the terrorist group.
On the same day Boko Haram was officially declared a terrorist group affiliated to al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. International sanctions including assets’ freeze, travel ban and arms embargo are imposed against the Islamist extremist group.
It was reported in August 2013 that Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, had been shot and deposed by members of his sect, but he survived. He has taken responsibility for the April 2014 kidnapping of over 200 school girls in Chibok, Borno state, Nigeria.
Funding sources for Boko Haram are not certain, but is believed to be partially funded by bank robberies and by other Islamist groups.