Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Growing Threat

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Boko Haram is a Nigerian Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Shariah law throughout the whole of Nigeria. It became known internationally following sectarian violence in Nigeria in 2009. As of 2011 it is thought to be responsible for “increasingly violent and sophisticated attacks”, with at least 327 people killed in 2011 through November 6 according to the Associated Press.

In August of this year, Boko Haram militants bombed the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria and are considered to be the gravest security threat to Africa”s most populous nation. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege” in Hausa,  is gaining prominence despite efforts by the military and police to stamp it out.

Abubakar Shekau, the imam of this violent sect said in a recent sermon, “Whomever we kill, we kill because Allah says we should kill and we kill for a reason.”

The most radical and “ideologically enhanced” faction of Boko Haram is in contact with al-Qaida”s North Africa branch and likely Somalia-based terror group al-Shabab, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity per embassy orders.

In a country where unemployment levels top 70%, joining this well-organized terror group is an appealing prospect for many disenfranchised Nigerian youth. Boko Haram offers inclusion and a livelihood in a nation where corrupt politicians collude with religious leaders, said Khalifa Dikwa, a professor at the University of Maiduguri.

Nigerian officials and diplomats fear the sect will launch bolder assaults on foreign interests and the country”s weak central government.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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