Boko Harām: Terrorism in Nigeria
by Michael Onas
President Goodluck Jonathan seems hopelessly overwhelmed by the ongoing Boko Haram crisis. Absent of any concrete strategy to tackle this issue, he simply goes about his political efforts towards re-election and other social events. Goodluck Jonathan, shown here attending a wedding ceremony on January 10, 2015, whilst Boko Haram continues killing of unarmed Nigerians.
“We are here because the government is not acting decisively enough,”. “Our soldiers are not prepared for an asymmetrical war against terrorists. They are in urgent need of a new strategy.” – former Education Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili
“Government forces are handicapped by their dilapidated equipment, poor discipline and chaotic communication. Morale is also poor among the soldiers, their meager wage payments are often weeks overdue. “They are incapable of eliminating these criminals. On the contrary, corrupt officers are even collaborating with Boko Haram.” “Our military reflects the rotten state of the entire country.”- Nuhu Ribadu
Nine generals are currently under investigation on charges of selling arms to Boko Haram. Six soldiers died in a May 13, 2013 attack on a combat patrol of the 7th Infantry Division, which has been deployed in the Chibok region. The Boko Haram attackers were familiar with the details of the unit’s whereabouts, which they likely obtained from corrupt “employees” in the army. When the division commander subsequently visited the troops, his own soldiers shot at his vehicle, because they suspected him of cooperating with Boko Haram.
Nigeria has typically resisted security cooperation with the west, which analysts say has hampered efforts against the militants, who have killed thousands since 2009. American officials have acknowledged that the US military has relatively weak ties with Nigeria and unlike many other African states, the government in Abuja has shown little interest in major training programmes.
“In the past, the Nigerians have been reluctant to accept US assistance, particularly in areas having to do with security,” said John Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria.
“Whatever assistance we might provide and might be welcomed by the Nigerian side is likely to be essentially technical,” he said.
Meanwhile, the terrorists are attacking churches, schools, police stations and military barracks. They attack and level villages with strike forces of up to 500 men. Most of their victims are Muslims. Some 375 were reportedly killed in an attack on the town of Gamboru in early May,2014. The governor encountered angry citizens when he toured the devastated town.
Corruption and Mass Poverty
Nigeria is, by its own account, now Africa’s largest economy. But the torn country of 170 million remains a giant with feet of clay. Even though Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest petroleum-exporting country, pumps are often empty at gas stations. The country has 95 universities, but about 40 percent of the population is illiterate. The government sends peacekeepers to other crisis-ridden countries, but it is incapable of defeating enemies on its own territory.
Nigeria’s problems are particularly evident in the overwhelmingly Muslim north. The breakdown of government, corruption that eats away at all institutions, mass poverty and the struggle over scarce resources only exacerbates existing ethnic and religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims. This creates an ideal breeding ground for the fundamentalists of Boko Haram, a terrorist group that began as a sect and is very popular today, because it condemns the moral decrepitude of the political elites and the duplicitous imams.
Boko Haram Founding leader Mohammed Yusuf
- Boko Harām, a militant Islamic group working out of Nigeria, whose purpose is to institute Sharia, or Islamic law.
- In the local Hausa dialect, Boko Harām means “Western education is forbidden.”
- The group also refers to itself as Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.”
- Boko Harām militants mainly inhabit areas in the northern states of Nigeria, specifically Yobe,Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna.
- Founded in 2002.
- Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state.
- Founding leader Mohammed Yusuf (pictured above) killed in 2009, same year in police custody, succeeded by Abubakar Shekau.
- Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja.
- Some three million people affected.
- Declared terrorist group by US in 2013.
Originally, Boko Harām was referred to locally as the Nigerian Taliban because of their religious similarities to the Taliban. The group has become more proficient in carrying out attacks since a 2009 clash with security forces that led to the death of its leader Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf. Since then it has either claimed or been blamed for numerous attacks on Nigerian government and civilian targets. Most attacks have been the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, though the group’s name has been called out in other bombings such as the attacks against the United Nations HQ and the main police building in the capital city of Abuja. The group itself has since factionalized with some allied to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Boko Harām does not engage in Nigeria’s political system out of an adherence to a fundamentalist form of Islam, which forbids participation unless the system is based on Sharia, or Islamic law.
Boko Harām militants targeted and robbed banks in 2011 and on December 25, 2011, Boko Harām also bombed a church in Abuja and attacked other Christian targets in northern Nigeria. Boko Harām had previously given all Christians 3 days to leave Yobe State and Borno State following the Christmas bombings. The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, had declared a state of emergency in several towns of those states.
Boko Haram targeted both civilians and the military
- 2002 – The group, which may have existed since the late 1990s, organizes under the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf. It is centered in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno.
- December 2003 - The first known attack by Boko Haram includes roughly 200 militants, who attack multiple police stations in the state of Yobe, near the Niger border.
- July 2009 – The Boko Harām uprising begins in Bauchi and spreads to the states of Borno, Kano and Yobe. The militant group killed scores of police officers. A joint military task force responds, leaving more than 700 Boko Haram members dead and its operational mosque destroyed. The uprising ends when police capture the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf. Hisdeputy, Abubakar Shekau, reportedly dies in the uprising. Yusuf later dies in police custody; police say he is shot during an attempted escape, but Boko Harām claims it is an extrajudicial execution.
- August 2009 - Senior Boko Harām militant, Sanni Umaru, releases a statement claiming to be the new leader.
- July 2010 – Boko Harām releases a video statement in which Yusuf’s deputy who allegedly died the previous year, Abubakar Shekau,claims to be the leader of the group.
- September 7, 2010 – In the state of Bauchi, 50 Boko Harām militants attack a prison, killing five people and releasing more than 700 inmates.
- December 31, 2010 – Bomb attack on a barracks on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria, on 31 December 2010. Four people were killed, including a pregnant woman, and 26 were injured; according to defence minister Adetokunbo Kayode, all of the dead were civilians, as were most of the injured.The attack was the second in Abuja in three months, and was the first near a barracks in the country since its return to democracy in 1999.
- March 12, 2011 – Boko Harām Assassinated Muslim Cleric Imam Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi for criticizing the violent groups in northeast Nigeria
- April 22, 2011 – Boko Harām frees 14 prisoners during a jailbreak in Yola, Adamawa State.
- May 29, 2011 – The day of President Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration, Boko Haram detonates three IEDs near a military barracks in the city of Bauchi in Bauchi State. At least 10 people die in the attack.
- June 16, 2011 – The group claims responsibility for the 2011 Abuja police headquarters bombing.
- June 26, 2011 – Bombing attack on a beer garden in Maiduguri, leaving 25 dead and 12 injured.
- July 7, 2011 – Boko Harām warns Muslims to avoid Christians,public servants and public buildings, and anything related to politics,”This is a government that is not Islamic. Therefore, all its employees Muslims or non-Muslims are infidels.”
- July 10, 2011 – Bombing at the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State
- July 11, 2011 – The University of Maiduguri temporarily closes down its campus citing security concerns
- August 12, 2011 – Prominent Muslim Cleric Liman Bana is shot dead by Boko Harām.
- August 25, 2011 - Twelve people die after Boko Haram militants attack a police station and two banks in the city of Gombi in Adamawa.
- August 26, 2011 - Boko Harām attacks the United Nations compound in Abuja. A car bomb kills 23 people and injures more than 75 others.
- November 4, 2011 - More than 100 die in multiple attacks in Yobo, Damaturu and Borno states. Boko Haram militants utilize IEDs and vehicle-borne IEDs to target security forces and their offices, markets and 11 churches.
- December 25, 2011 – A total of 41 people are reported dead. Boko Harām, later claimed responsibility.
- Gadaka and Damaturu: Two explosions were reported in the city of Damaturu and another at a church in the northeastern town of Gadaka. At least one of the attacks in Damaturu was the work of a suicide car bomber, who rammed the building housing the headquarters of the State Security Service. At least three people were killed in that blast; a senior military commander allegedly targeted by it survived.
- Madalla: At least 37 people died and 57 others were injured in an attack at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a satellite town of Abuja located 40 km (25 mi) from the city center. A local coordinator with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed the death toll.
- Jos: An explosion hit the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos and gunmen later fired on police who were guarding the area resulting in the death of one police officer. Another two bombs were found in a nearby building and were disarmed
- January 2012 - A newly formed splinter group, known as Ansaru, announces Abu Usmatul Al-Ansari as its leader.
- January 5 – 6, 2011 – Militants armed with automatic weapons stormed a town hall in the city of Mubi in Adamawa State where people had gathered to mourn 3 Christians shot on the previous evening. At least 18 people were confirmed killed by a Nigerian Red Cross official, and a separate ambush of Christians leaving a church service in the state capital of Yola left at least eight people dead. Most of the victims were ethnic Igbo.
- January 20, 2012 – More than 200 people are killed when Boko Haram launches coordinated attacks targeting police, military, a prison and other targets in the city of Kano in Kano State.
- January 28,2012 – Nigerian army says it killed 11 Boko Harām insurgents.
- February 8, 2012 – Boko Harām claims responsibility for a suicide bombing at the army headquarters in Kaduna.
- February 16, 2012 – Another prison break staged in central Nigeria; 119 prisoners are released, one warden killed.
- March 8, 2012 - During a British hostage rescue attempt to free Italian engineer Franco Lamolinara and Briton Christopher McManus, abducted in 2011 by a splinter group Boko Haram, both hostages were killed.
- May 31, 2012 – During a Joint Task Force raid on a Boko Harām den, it was reported that 5 sect members and a German hostage were killed.
- June 3, 2012 – 15 church-goers were killed and several injured in a church bombing in Bauchi state. Boku Harām claimed responsibility through spokesperson Abu Qaqa.
- June 17, 2012 – 130 bodies were found in Plateau State. It is presumed they were killed by Boko Harām. Suicide bombers strike three churches in Kaduna. At least 50 people were killed.
- August 23, 2012 – Unverified media reports claim that Boko Harām has begun peace talks with the Nigerian government. Boko Harām spokesman Abu QaQa warns the media against making any more claims, “We are telling the government to understand that if it is not ready to embrace Sharia and the Quran as the guiding book from which the laws of the land derive, there shall be no peace… [and media agencies] should understand that for us there is no difference between those fighting with guns and with the pen.”
- September 18, 2012 – In Kano, a family of four was wiped out by four gunmen, suspected to be ,members of the sect, who arrived on two motorcycles and killed the victims at point blank range after herding them in a room. Last night, too six persons, playing the game of Ludo in front of their home, were killed by the gunmen of Boko Harām, without any provocation.
- September 19, 2012 - Nigerian Military arrests Boko Harām militants, reported death of Abu Qaqa.
- October 3, 2012 - Around 25 – 46 people were massacred in the town of Mubi in Nigeria during a night-time raid.
- February 19, 2013 – Militants alleging to be Boko Haram kidnap a French family of seven in a national park in northern Cameroon; however, the affiliation with Boko Harām can not be verified. The family is later released.
- March 18, 2013 – 2013 Kano Bus bombing: At least 22 killed and 65 injured, when a suicide car bomb exploded in Kano bus station.
- April 2013 – President Goodluck Jonathan states he has appointed a team to explore the possibility of amnesty for Islamist militants.Shekau responds in an audio statement: “Surprisingly the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.”
- April 19, 2013 – Boko Harām battles with multinational security forces from Niger, Nigeria and Chad in the city of Baga in Borno State, leaving nearly 260 people dead and nearly 1000 injured, including many civilians. Shekau releases a video in May saying Boko Haram is not responsible for the civilian deaths.
- May 7, 2013 – At least 55 killed and 105 inmates freed in coordinated attacks on army barracks, a prison and police station in Bama town.
- May 15, 2013 – Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence announces a military offensive has begun in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe to “rid the nation’s border territories of terrorist bases and activities.”
- June 4, 2013 - President Jonathan approves the proscription of Boko Harām and splinter group Ansaru as terrorist organizations.
- June 2013 - Boko Harām targets churches in various states on three Sundays in a row, leaving more than 50 people dead.
- July 6, 2013 - Yobe State school shooting: 42 people, mostly students, were killed in a school attack in northeast Nigeria
- August 11, 2013 - 44 people killed in a mosque in Konduga.
- August 14, 2013 – The Ministry of Defence announces the death of Boko Haram’s second-in-command, Momodu Baba (known as Abu Saad).
- August 19, 2013 – Nigeria’s chief army spokesperson claims Shekaumay have died after an attack on June 30, but the claim is never verified.
- September 17, 2013 – Boko Harām gunmen dress in military uniforms and stage a fake checkpoint near Benisheik in Borno, executing travelers and burning vehicles, leaving at least 143 people dead.
- September 25, 2013 - A man claiming to be Shekau appears in a video and says that he is, in fact, alive and well. However, his identity is not verified.
- September 29, 2013 - College of Agriculture in Gujba: 40 male students killed.
- October 20, 2013 - 4 motorists killed in northeastern Nigeria by Boko Harām militant
- November 13, 2013 – The U.S. State Department adds Boko Harām and Ansaru to its list of terrorist organizations.
- December 2, 2013 – Hundreds of fighters attacked a military base in Maiduguri.
- January 14, 2014 - At least 31 people killed, over 50 people injured by suicide bombing in Maiduguri, Borno State
- January 26, 2014 – At least 45 are killed in a market in Kawuri in Borno after Boko Haram militants open fire.
- February 11, 2014 - At least 23 people are killed when suspected Boko Haram militants torch houses in the village of Konduga, according to the governor of Borno state.
- February 16, 2014 – Izghe massacre: Boko Harām Massacres 106 Christians in Izghe Village In Northern Nigeria
- February 25, 2014 - Federal Government College attack: Fury at military over Yobe deaths. At least 29 teenage boys dead at Federal Government College Buni Yadi
- March 14, 2014 - Attack on the military barracks in Maiduguri, nearly 600 detainees freed. The detainees were executed when government forces retook control.
- April 14, 2014 - Chibok: Boko Harām militants kidnapped approximately 276 teenage girls from a Government secondary boarding school in Chibok in Borno. Officials there say some of the girls were able to escape. At least 16 killed or missing. The Boko Harām militants said they would treat the detainees as slaves and part of the “war booty”. April 2014 Abuja bombing: Two bombs explode at a crowded bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, killing at least 90 people and injuring more than 200
- May 2014 – Nigerian soldiers shot at the car of their divisional commander whom they suspected of colluding with Boko Haram and it was reported that nine Nigerian generals were being investigated for suspected sale of weapons to Boko Haram
- May 1, 2014 - A car bomb exploded killing at least 19 people and injured at least 60 in the same area of Abuja as the April bomb
- May 5, 2014 - Gamburu attack: Boko Harām attacked the twin towns of Gamboru and Ngala in Borno State, Nigeria. They started shooting in a busy marketplace, set houses on fire, and gunned down anyone who tried to flee. The death toll of the massacre has been set as high as 336. In a video statement, a man claiming to be Shekau says, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah…there is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
- May 13, 2014 – Hundreds of Boko Harām militants storm three villages (Menari, Tsangayari and Garawa) in the state of Borno.Villagers resist, killing more than 200 Boko Haram fighters.
- May 17, 2014 – Paris summit: A summit in Paris has declared Boko Harām is part of al-Qaeda as leaders from West African nations resolved to mount a region-wide offensive against the group that is holding more than 200 school girls hostage in a dense jungle. Western nations have pledged to provide technical expertise and training to the new regional African effort against the Islamic extremists
- May 18, 2014 – Kano: Suicide car bomb kills five people
- May 20, 2014 – Twin blasts in the city of Jos kill 118 people at a market. Nigerian authorities decline to say who is responsible.
- May 21, 2014 - The White House announces that the United States has sent 80 troops to Chad to help search for the kidnapped schoolgirls.
- May 22, 2014 - The U.N. Security Council adds Boko Haram to its sanctions list.
- May 30, 2014 – Assassination of Muslim leader Alhaji Idrissa Timta the Emir of Gwoza in Borno
- June 1, 2014 - Mubi bombing: An attack at a football field in Mubi, Adamawa kills at least 40 people
- June 2, 2014 - Boko Harām militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 200 civilians in three communities in Gwoza. A community leader who witnessed the killings said that local residents had pleaded for help from the military, but it did not arrive in time. It took a few days for word from survivors to reach the provincial capital of Maiduguri, because the roads are extremely dangerous and phone connections are poor or nonexistent. The slaughter was confirmed by both Mohammed Ali Ndume, a senator representing Borno and whose hometown is Gwoza, and by a top security official in Maiduguri who insisted on anonymity
- June 3-4, 2014 – Hundreds of people are killed in raids by Boko Harām Islamic militants in the state of Borno, with some sources putting the death toll at 400 to 500.
- June 6 – 12, 2014 – Suspected Boko Harām militants kidnap at least 20 young women over a weekend in the northeastern Nigeria village of Garkin Fulani, 8 kilometers from a town where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken nearly two months earlier. 4 attacks, killing 5 civilians, 6 military; military kill 50 Boko Haram.
- June 13 – 19, 2014 – 2 attacks, 46 civilians killed; 8 Boko Harām killed by Borno vigilante group
- June 20 – 26, 2014 – 4 attacks, Boko Harām militants hold the village of Kummabza in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria, hostage for four days. 93 civilians killed, 60 abducted. A military fighter jet bombed unknown number of Boko Haram in counter attack; 25 Boko Haram and 16 soldier skilled in attack on military base. Cameroon military killed 10 Boko Harām near border.
- June 28, 2014 – Gunmen killed thirteen Fulani herdsmen in Taraba state.
- June 29, 2014 - Boko Haram attacked several villages in Chibok, Borno state, killing fifty-six.
- July 1, 2014 – In Maiduguri, Borno State, a suicide bomber in a van carrying charcoal killed fifty-six people, including seventeen members of the Civilian JTF. The attack was blamed on Boko Harām.
- July 4 – July 10, 2014 - 4 Boko Harām attacks, 11 civilians, 1 vigilante, 33 soldiers, 4 police killed. 53 Boko Harām were killed while capturing a military base and police station in Borno on the 4th of July. On the 6th, soldiers killed a Boko Haram kingpin and his brother at their home in Kaduna; also on the 6th, 44 Boko Harām were killed in 2 military operations in Borno. Sources say sixty-three women and girls kidnapped by Boko Harām last month from the Kummabza village in northern Borno state,have escaped from their captors and returned to their village. Boko Harām is still believed to be holding about 200 schoolgirls abducted April 14 from a boarding school in the town of Chibok.
- July 11 – July 17, 2014 - 4 attacks, 81 civilians killed, many of these shot by fighter jet in a failed counter-attack. German teacher kidnapped and 2 vigilantes killed on July 16 in Adamawa, presumably by Boko Harām.
- July 17-20, 2014 – Boko Harām raids the Nigerian town of Damboa. By the time the raid ends, 66 residents have been killed and more than 15,000 have fled.
- July 25 – July, 2014 - 2 attacks in Kolofata, Cameroon, including the kidnapping of the wife of the Vice Prime Minister, Amadou Ali, as well as local religious leader and mayor, Seini Boukar-Lamine
- August 11, 2014 - 28 civilians killed, 97 kidnapped, all men and boys, in attacks on villages in Borno State in rural northeast Nigeria. Many homes torched in the raid.
- October 16, 2014 – The Nigerian government announces they’ve reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist terror group that includes the promised release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
- October 29, 2014 – Several people were killed after clashes with the armed forces resulted in Boko Harām taking over the second largest city in Adamawa, Mubi. It followed the overrunning of Uba in Borno. Kukawa local government chairman Modu Musa said that several people were killed especially around the market.
- November 1, 2014 – In a video, Boko Harām’s leader denies the Nigerian government’s claim of a ceasefire.
- November 25, 2014 - Suicide bombing in the Maiduguri market by two women killed at least 45 people. Other sources count 78 deaths
- November 28, 2014 - 120 people were killed in Kano, where a local mosque was bombed by Boko Harām
- December 1, 2014 - In Damaturu, during a Boko Harām attack,two female suicide bombers detonated bombs at the central Maiduguri market, killing dozens.
- December 3, 2014 – Boko Harām abducted 20 women, mostly young girls, during an attack on Lassa in Borno State
- December 4, 2014 – Boko Harām raided Bajoga, in Gombe State, occupying buildings briefly before leaving with stolen vehicles and motorbikes
- December 10, 2014 – Boko Harām raided Gajigana, north of Borno State, killing at least 14 people.
- January 1, 2015 – Boko Harām abducted 40 boys and young men from the village of Malari in Borno State, Nigeria.
- January 3, 2015 – A multi-day raid begins, where hundreds of Boko Harām gunmen seize the town of Baga and neighboring villages in northern Nigeria, as well as a multinational military base, leaving bodies scattered everywhere and as many as 2,000 people feared dead.
- January 9, 2015 – 40 boys kidnapped by Boko Harām in Kukawa, northeast Nigeria.
Excerpt and News Source Credit: United Press International, BBC, CNN, The Moment Newspaper, Bartholomäus Grill and Toby Selander, Wikipedia, AllAfrica.com, Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update
Keywords: Boko Haram, Nigeria, Terrorism, Africa, Goodluck Jonathan, #Nigeria, #BokoHaram, #BringBackOurGirls