For a group that only two years ago was angrily condemning the notion that the world is round, Boko Haram has transformed considerably. After being on the losing end of a massacre by Nigerian soldiers in mid 2009, the group is now a feared terrorist organization that the government is desperate to negotiate a settlement with.
The 2009 edition of Boko Haram included a western educated cleric who scoffed at any technology discovered in the past millennium as sinful, and fought with bows and arrows and the occasional machete.
The 2011 version has discovered the utility not only of the gun but the car bomb, and just days ago attacked a UN building in Nigeria killing 18. Such attacks are becoming increasingly common.
The group has gone from a launchingstock bunch of people with bows and arrows to an influential terror group that is being endorsed by groups like al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group’s ability to command “taxes” in northern Nigeria is growing by the day.
The Nigerian government has been suggesting negotiations might be in the offing for months now, but usually backs off. The issue however is largely one of their own creation, because before the 2009 massacres the group posed no serious threat on a national scale.