The term ‘Boko Haram‘ is a figurative combination of two Hausa words: Boko, which can literally be translated to mean ‘western education’ and ‘Haram’ which means ‘sin’. When the two words are combined, they actually mean that the western education is sinful and hence forbidden in a pure Muslim state. As a matter of fact, this name is an incisive indication of what this group stands for — they believe that anything that’s westernized is doctored to corrupt the Muslim belief. And since Nigeria is deemed to be a pure Muslim state, then it should strictly be governed by the Sharia law. As a result, this group has been rebelling against the Nigerian government, putting it at risk of dividing the country along ethnic and religious line.
Here are Some Key Facts about Boko Haram Organisation
The ideology of the group, estimated killings and the regions of influence
This rebel group was first heard in 2001, and it’s believed to have been founded by Mohamed Yusuf. Since then, the group has been linked with a series of attacks on Christians, schools, police stations and government targets, as well kidnapping of western tourists in Nigeria. On a positive note, this group is believed to be very supportive towards Muslims, and has been sponsoring several Muslim establishments. Since the group started, it has been purported to be behind 10, 000 total killings in Nigeria, with about 3600 deaths occurring between 2009 and 2013 — 1,600 of those killed are actually civilians with the rest being either policemen, tourists or government officials.
The Boko Haram Group has become more influential in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. This has resulted in the group controlling some of the Nigerian states like Adamawa, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe and Bauchi. Consequently, the government has declared a state of emergency in all these states as an attempt to fight them back but the war that’s forged against this group has been facing a lot of challenges since the group doesn’t have a clear chain of command nor structure, which makes it even harder for the government to identify its leader. They instead have a cell-like structure (called diffuse) that they use to facilitate factions and splits. As reported by some of its members, this structure is divided into three splits, with the splinter group referred to as ‘Ansaru’.
Their links to an external group
All claims that link this group to any external Jihadist group have been strongly disputed. But according to a military commander from the US, the Boko Haram group is sub-division of Al’qaeda-in-the-islamic-Maghreb (AQIM). There is however no evidence to support this claim, nor any evidence that clearly shows that they actually have an international support. Similarly, the group seems to be less interested in international targets as the bulk of its attacks are generally directed to local organizations and the population that seem to have a religious view that’s different from the Muslim stand and the sharia laws. But on 13th November 2013, the US government stated that this group is a terrorist organization and it’s one of the organizations that is targeted by the US government in their war against terrorism.
The Group’s Funding
Till this date, there is no clue that clearly shows where this organization receives its funding, and all the suspected sources are actually not certain. Some people, however, believe that this group partially gets its funds from their consistent bank robberies, while others believe that the group is funded by other external Islamic groups. On February 2012, some of the group’s officials who were arrested revealed how their coordination with the AQIM opened more ways for funding from their associate groups in the UK and Saudi Arabia. In addition, they also revealed how the group gets some extra funding from the Islamic World Society and the Al-Muntada-Trust-Fund.
Additionally, it has been verified that the group has been extorting money from the local government as it claims to collect ‘protection fee’. This was revealed by one of their spokesman who also went ahead to say that the governors for Kano and Bauchi, Ibrahim Sherakau and Isa Yuguda respectively, used to pay them this money on a monthly basis. But ever since the US government listed the group as a Foreign-terrorist-organization, more restrictions have been put on any national organization that gives them funding especially those from the US.
How they operate and recruit their members
It was rumored on March 2012 that the group had recruited high-profile Nigerians to target the highly fortified Nigerian buildings. Even though no building has been attacked since then, they have been reportedly linked with the attacks on several Christian buildings as they attempt to distract the authority so that they can unleash other attacks elsewhere. They have also been using motorcycles to attack security officers and government officials, which has led to a motorcycle ban in Maiduguri. Recent reports have also confirmed that the group has been using the internet to promote their radical activities and extreme ideologies as it tries to enhance its following. Most of the people who are recruited in this group are aged between 18 and 30, and mainly include young citizens and freed prisoners. They are also known for assigning the non-kanuris for suicide missions.