Boko Haram: Beginnings and Structure

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Nigeria

Boko Haram, defined by The United States Institute of Peace,  is an islamic sect in Nigeria that believes the political group in charge of Northern Nigeria is a group of false Muslims.

How Boko Haram Was Started 

The group began as a bunch of radical Islamic youth that worshiped at a Mosque in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The group of young Islamists, not yet known as Boko Haram, decided the city was corrupt and went on a hijra and moved to a village called Kanama. A conflict began with police there and many of the original 70 members were killed. After this conflict the survivors returned to Maiduguri and the first true leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf took charge. Under his leadership Boko Haram made a “state within a state” with their own religious police, cabinet, and farm. No one is sure if the group actually calls themselves Boko Haram, the groups neighbors gave them that name roughly meaning “Western Education is forbidden” in Hausa

Leadership Today and Structure

Abubakar Shekau is the commonly accepted leader of the group right now.He communicates through the internet and passing videos over to journalists . He is the second main leader of the group, whose founder,  died in 2009.

This group is difficult to define because the way the group is organized. There are many opportunities for the group to form factions and split. Recently the leader of the group has come out with a video stating their terms but also saying that the previously thought to be second in command, Sheikh Mohammed Abdulaziz, was never in charge and does not take orders from Shekau. This man recently held a telephone conference with journalists telling them that Boko Haram was willing to enter into peace talks. Something the Nigerian has been trying to do for years. (Washington Post)

This is a still image taken from the recent video. These internet posts have been appearing less and less since the Nigerian Government has tried to block more internet usage.

  1. Whoa…Boko Haram’s existence seems dangerous. To make a “state within a state” is a bold move. I’m not sure if this group will stay peaceful. With so many factions and claims of false leadership, it doesn’t seem like this group will function over time.

  2. Liz Stratman says:

    You did a nice job of organizing this post. Dividing it up by sections/sub-titles makes it clear and easy to follow. The content is very useful and informative. It sounds like Boko Haram really stirred up trouble, but I find it interesting that he sort of created a “state within a state.” I also think the whole group is a bit full of drama if they are accusing one another of not really being a true leader. It seems like everyone is seeking power, but obviously not everyone can be in power.

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