Boko Haram, which emerged in Nigeria over a decade ago as a small Sunni Islamic sect advocating a strict interpretation and implementation of Islamic law for the country, has grown since 2010 into one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups. Calling itself Jama’a Ahl as-Sunna Li-da’wa wa-al Jihad (roughly translated from Arabic as “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”), the group is more popularly known as Boko Haram (often translated as
“Western education is forbidden”), a nickname given by local Hausa-speaking communities to describe its view that Western education and culture have been corrupting influences that are haram (“forbidden”). Civilians in Nigeria’s impoverished, predominately Muslim northeast have borne the brunt of Boko Haram’s violence. The group conducted its first lethal attack against Western interests in August 2011, with the deadly bombing of the United Nations building in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. After attracting international headlines with the kidnapping of more than 270 girls from a school in the Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014, Boko Haram commenced a territorial offensive that Nigerian security forces struggled to reverse until regional forces, primarily from neighboring Chad, launched an offensive against the group in early 2015. Private mercenaries have also been used in the campaign.
Date of Report: April 3, 2015
Order Number: IF10173
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