Part One: Genealogy
Mohammed Yusuf, Leader of the “Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad —meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” in Nigeria, spells out that Secularization yoked together with Westernization of education (BOKO) is illegitimate (HARAM) in Islam as translated into the vernacular, which must be criminalized, fought off and eliminated. The Group was rebranded and nicknamed into Boko Haram, which means WESTERN EDUCATION IS FORBIDDEN.
Boko Haram Ideology
Boko Haram stubbornly insists that secularized and westernized education goes against Islam as it makes coeducation mandatory in schools, while introducing CHARLES DARWIN’S THEORY OF EVOLUTION along with other deviant concepts into curricula, deemed taboos in Islam. Boko Haram does not recognize banking transactions, taxes, along with such modern economic and legal practices forbidden by Islam.
To best stave off and steer clear of such taboos in the big cities, Boko Haram has sought to establish a society isolated from the Nigerian reality; Mohammed Yusuf has disallowed his followers to engage in democracy, civil service, and Westernized education. With this mindset put into force, Boko Haram has soon metamorphosed into such a group that has denounced the Nigerian rulers and society, ballooning into an existential threat to Nigeria. Extremist fighters were not a threat to national security when armed conflict first flared up; however, as the authorities poorly managed the conflict, terrorist fighters successfully pulled off many resounding victories over the Nigerian government. By 2014, they managed to control vast swaths of territory inside Nigeria.
The Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque was the headquarters from which Mohammed Yusuf and his militant successor, Abu Bakr Shekau, spearheaded insurgency. Boko haram had three important organs: Cabinet, Shura Council, Hisbah Commission.
US government officials used NIGERIAN TALIBAN to describe Boko Haram in an interview about the small fundamentalist Islamic Group that migrated in October 2003 from Maiduguri to Yobe State, and how the affiliated members were billeted in camps in a small desert village called ZAGI-BIRIRI in local government area in Tarmuwa.
Shekau, Second Leader
As described by the author, Mohammed Yusuf, First Leader of Boko Haram, is a sagacious and resourceful figure who adopts Salafism. Being well-rounded and well-spoken, Yusuf has assumed a high social status enriched by his fluent English. However, Yusuf sowed the seeds of ideological violence in his leadership of the Boko Haram and set the tone for the organizational structure to feed on terrorism. Following his death, Abu Bakr Shekau assumed the leadership of Boko Haram and fled to the Republic of Niger to be safe from the Nigerian authorities.
Shekau was born in the village of Shekau, located in Yobe; he did not receive any formal education even with no rudimentary English. Like other poor children, he moved to Maiduguri in 1970s in search of Islamic Sharia and food. Later, he managed to receive Islamic Sharia by a local teacher.
Imbibed with such a dark and hardline ideology heart and soul, Shekau became a living example of extremism. Driven by his extremist ideology, Shekau moved up the hierarchy and assumed the leadership of Boko Haram, making it ruthlessly more deadly and notoriously terrorist. With a clear-cut, terse, and laconic message, Shekau hurls accusations against the authorities in Abuja and Borno of corruption, insisting that putting Sharia into force would result in a fair government; Shekau had an ambition to apply Sharia throughout Nigeria. With his violent rhetoric, Shekau lured and decoyed many youth who had grown up as beggars into believing that the real enemy was Nigeria’s corrupt elite being directly responsible for their abject poverty and sheer misery.
When zooming in on the military conflict staged between the government and Boko Haram, the author insists that the Nigerian authorities passed up a favorable opportunity to ease Shekau out of Boko Haram. In July 2009, the authorities heroically arrested Yusuf in Borno, who he was later killed, while Shekau was shot in the leg but managed to escape.
Record of Violence
Mixed reports and accounts are narrated about the source of the first terrorist attacks launched in Nigeria; some researchers believe that the attackers were staged by the Yobe Taliban Sect. while others accused the YUSUFIYA Sect (followers of Mohammed Yusuf). The author stakes out that the first attack on the PAN-SHEKARA Police Station is a direct act of terrorism by Shekau. The YUSUFIYA Sect (later Boko Haram) has become at the time one of the few armed groups that favored using violence and had the practical ability to carry out large-scale attacks supported by ammunition, organized fighters, and ubiquitous presence. The author attributes such unawareness of the evolution of terrorism there to the lack of intelligence information available to the Nigerian authorities at the time.
You can read more about this topic in Issue 33 of Book Reviews.