Boko Haram

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Boko Haram [Western education is sinful], Nigerian Islamic fundamentalist militia, officially Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad [people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's teachings and jihad]. It arose (c.2002) in Maiduguri, Borno, NE Nigeria, and has since spread across the nation's north, where Muslims are the majority and poverty is widepsread; it is especially active in the states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa in NE Nigeria, especially in rural areas. Frustration with Nigerian government neglect and corruption has contributed to the influence of the group, which is loosely modeled on the Taliban. Boko Haram also has operated in areas of Cameroon and Niger bordering NE Nigeria, with significant fighting between the Cameroonian military and group beginning in the second half of 2014.

Boko Haram mounted its first attack in 2004, and since then the group has been responsible for thousands of deaths. The sect demands the adoption of sharia, and has killed many Christians in church bombings as well as more moderate Muslims. There also have been bloody attacks on educational institutions, mass kidnappings of women and children, scorched-earth attacks on entire villages, and attacks outside N Nigeria. In 2011 a UN building in Abuja was struck by a suicide bomber from the group.

After Boko Haram's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009, the group appeared to fragment. At least one of the resulting splinter groups, Ansaru, which formed in 2012 and mainly has targeted Westerners in Nigeria, has formed an alliance with Al Qaeda. In 2010 Abubakar Shekau claimed leadership of Boko Haram. In 2014 the group moved from hit-and-run attacks to holding territory, and declared an Islamic state in the parts of NE Nigeria it controlled; it also increasingly targeted political figures. Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015 as it faced a counteroffensive from Nigeria and its neighbors, in which Chadian and Nigerian forces largely forced the group from towns it had controlled. Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin subsequently agreed to establish a joint military force, led by Nigeria, to combat the group.