US officials have repeatedly made a point to emphasize the “threat” posed by Nigerian militant outfit Boko Haram to American interests. It is unsurprising, as Nigeria is one of America’s largest suppliers of oil and the campaign against the faction has turned much of the nation’s northeast into a no-go area.
To that end US officials have pledged major support for the Nigerian government, with the belief that their usual anti-terror policy of large scale military operations against the affected regions will provide a solution. Always unspoken, of course, is that this strategy doesn’t seem to be working for the US anywhere else.
But Boko Haram is interesting not so much for what it is — another militant faction using the the same strategy of violence against rivals and suicide bombings — but for what Boko Haram was: a mostly irrelevant Luddite sect.
The group’s name, Boko Haram, is a combination of the Hausa word “Boko” meaning Western education, and the Arabic word “haram” used to refer to religiously forbidden or sinful things, usually seen in the context of Muslim dietary laws. The group was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a Western educated cleric, and was virtually unknown for several years.
Yusuf’s faction was reportedly something of a laughingstock early on, with some claiming that Boko Haram was originally a term of ridicule for the group’s backwards belief system. In an interview with the BBC, Yusuf claimed that the idea that the Earth was round was “heretical” and also mocked the idea that rain was the result of condensation, insisting that it was clearly a miracle instead.
The group’s membership also eschewed firearms for the most part, arming themselves with bows and arrows and machetes on the grounds that there was no mention of guns in the Qu’ran.
But in early 2009 the group began to attract attentions amid claims that they were responsible for several violent killings, particularly targeting people who refused to convert to Islam.
Instead of treating this as a law enforcement matter, the Nigerian government sent in the military, announced their intention to “wipe out” the faction, and shelled their mosque before pursuing the survivors.
The operation ended in a massacre, with a large number of Boko Haram members tossed into mass graves. Yusuf was arrested and then died under “mysterious circumstances” hours later when he was shot repeatedly while in military custody.
The Nigerian government instantly declared the operation a military victory (and certainly a decisive case for machine guns over shortbows). Unsurprisingly, it was not the end of the situation.
With Yusuf dead and much of their group massacred in the streets, Boko Haram did not simply fade away but rather changed its tactics dramatically. The group abandoned its aversion to modern weaponry and armed itself with the usual tools of the trade, machine guns and suicide vests.
Now instead of the occasional beheading in Maiduguri, the Nigerian government is coping with major bombings on a fairly regular basis. Last week Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reported that Boko Haram is believed to have infiltrated most of the government and the military, and that the threat is even greater than the ugly late 1960’s Biafran War, which killed millions.
For US officials, this is just one more opportunity to throw massive amounts of arms at the Nigerian military and turn them loose. Yet Boko Haram’s current status is a clear reflection of what a disastrous policy that has been, and history certainly does not favor the notion that a sufficiently bloody military response will solve the problem.
11 thoughts on “Boko Haram – An Overview on America’s Latest ‘Threat’”
I don't know who Boko Haram are, but I'm skeptical about what their leader said about the shape of the earth, how rain is produced, etc. If he'd ever read the Qur'an, he'd know that it specifically talks about rain (see http://www.quranandscience.com/earth/263-quran-on… and that it describes the Quran like the shape of an ostrich egg (which is almost – but not – a sphere, like the earth). I wonder if he was saying that science was wrong about these things or just that it all comes from God in the first place? Contrary to the impression many people have, the Quran was very advanced on scientific matters – much more advanced than state of scientific knowledge in the 7th century, when it was revealed.
would you be kind enough to share some of this advanced knowledge with us kafirs? Supposedly "the Quran" was given to mohd by the Almighty so it would be prudent to assume that it/he/she would get the basic facts about his/her creation right.
you come here blowing smoke in everyones eyes, stop beating about the bush and share with us ignorants this so called divine knowledge.
We are waiting anxiously for the "Advanced Scientific knowledge". The suspense is killing me!! Will they finally prove that earth is flat just like it says in the Quran? Will there be clips of stars(missiles) shooting down the Jinns attempting to snoop on Heaven? Will there be any breakthrough cure for genetic abnormalities? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392217/M…
If you dont like the truth, try ignorance.
So, let me get this straight . . . the FedGov is going to give billions of $$ in weapons to a government and an army that is infiltrated and presumably more or less controlled by the latest terrorist group du jour? Sounds like they're re-using the strategic plan from the recent Libyan adventure.The FedGov certainly has a way of doing things in the most counterproductive way imaginable. It would be ironic if it weren't so laughable.
First question – is there oil in the country? The answer is yes, so we know the playbook. Geez, this is getting tedious.
The Boko Haram is now a lot like Al Queda in that it's a catch all phrase for anyone who is ticked off at their messed up governement. In this case they have good reason to be mad. They have tons of oil but only a small percentage of the people get anything out of it. The government is very heavy handed and the average person is more afraid of their government then they are the Boko Haram.
it's none of our business but we already have a large troop presence. My best friends brother is actually the colonol in charge of training their troops. Which is a joke considering he is National Guard but has never seen combat and was actually range control not counter insurgency.
Of course, no one will dare to explain how a bunch of people in the jungles of Africa are somehow a 'threat' to Americans. Maybe, like Saddam, they've got a balsa wood drone with which they'll manage to wipe out NYC? What are they really going to do to hurt us? Shoot blowgun darts at us?
But, it is a fine excuse to steal millions and millions more of your tax dollars and waste them on something that doesn't impact you in the slightest. But, I'd bet there's a contract for whatever Haliburton and Blackwater are calling themselves these days.
LIES,LIES LIES,MISTAKE,MISTAKE,MISTAKE,CRIMES,CRIMES, CRIMES,ILLEGAL WARS,ILLEGAL WARS,ILLEGAL WARS.(America,Israel)
israel is the fall guy. when there will be no more use for Israel, it will be thrown under the bus. It is a class war.
More like America is Israel's chump.
some people will believe anything.but carry on, dont let common sense and logic cloud your judgement.
lol@ people who thumbs down my posts. i don't care,rather I am amused by this childish display.
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