News / Africa

Nigeria's Boko Haram Remains Persistent, Mysterious Threat

Nigeria's Boko Haram Remains Persistent, Mysterious Threati
X
November 14, 2013 10:19 PM
The United States has formally designated Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram and a splinter group, Ansaru, as foreign terrorist organizations. VOA's Anne Look has this report on what we know about Boko Haram.
Anne Look
The United States has formally designated the Nigerian militant sect, Boko Haram, and a splinter group, Ansaru, as foreign terrorist organizations. 

Boko Haram's propaganda videos have been some of the public's only windows into the shadowy militant sect. 

Sect leader Abubakar Shekau appears in them routinely. He boasts about attacks and threatens enemies ranging from the Nigerian government to Christians to the United States.

A man in recent videos who experts say appears to be Shekau taunts the Nigerian military, which has declared him dead twice.

In a video distributed on DVD to journalists in Maiduguri in early October, the sect shows off large stocks of weapons it says it seized from Nigerian soldiers.  Shekau says "a big war" is coming.  He says "This war is not about the Nigerian government; it is a war to uplift Islam and get all non-Muslims to repent their ways and embrace Islam.  This war is a task that will bring peace, tranquility, equality and fairness in Nigeria."

A charismatic imam named Mohammed Yusuf founded Boko Haram in the northeast in 2002.

People nicknamed the sect Boko Haram after Yusuf's preaching.  It means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language.

The sect wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria's Muslim-majority north.  Its war with the Nigerian state has killed thousands of people since the insurgency began in 2009.

Yusuf was murdered that same year during a crackdown against the sect.  His deputy, Shekau, resurrected what remained of the sect.  It reemerged in 2010 more violent than ever. 

"He [Shekau] really transformed an organization that was sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida to an organization that operated like the Taliban and al-Qaida.  Whereas for Yusuf, it was mostly just preaching and preparing for jihad, but he [Shekau] transformed it from a preaching group about jihad to an actual jihadist group,"
said Jacob Zenn, Nigeria analyst for the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation.

Militants have attacked police and military installations, schools, churches, mosques and the U.N. headquarters in the capital, Abuja.  There have been dozens of raids, suicide bombings and drive-by shootings.

Security experts say Boko Haram militants have trained with al-Qaida linked groups in Africa, like al-Shabab and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Experts say what people call Boko Haram is actually several distinct factions.   Moderates have split off - some wanting dialogue with the government, others forming new militant groups, like Ansaru, which took issue with the sect's killing of Muslims. 

Nigeria launched a massive land and air offensive against Boko Haram in the northeast in May. 

Despite the military's reports of success, attacks have continued, not all of them claimed by Boko Haram.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: K Taddonio from: New York, NY
November 15, 2013 9:50 AM
While it is important that the United States recognizes the violent acts of Boku Haram and its splinter groups- I tend to wonder whether this designation is really significant. Seems to be a passive act by the government without any real implications or meaning. http://transparentpolicy.org/2013/11/us-adds-boko-haram-terrorist-organization/

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Nigeria
November 14, 2013 9:21 PM
it will only cost 1 politician's loot to build a well needed military baracks in all our porus boarders to better protect the country ,when are we ever gonna have reasonable leaders?

by: freedom
November 14, 2013 12:54 PM
Let the BIAFRANS Go and stop killing them, They have the highest number of christians in Nigeria and are involved in all these killings by the so called islamic boko haram. Nigeria can only be good if it will be splitted into three and everyone will go their way and mind their own tradition, religious and cultural belief.
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
November 14, 2013 10:51 PM
Splitting Nigeria into several small mini states will never ever solve any current political problems.
People ought to be educated themselves about the benefit of staying united, accountability, fairness and democracy.
In my country, Somalia, where everybody seems to have one language, culture, tradition and religion, but we continued mercilessly slaughtering one another, raping girls as young as five year old, and splitting the country into hundreds of small mini states. We created in our neighbouring country the largest refugee camp in the world. Yet unfortunately solving all these problems seems very remote. I strongly believe that only mass education is the only way out.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs