Founded in Africa in 2002 – Boko Haram was one of the most deadliest and merciless militant Islamic terror organisations after the ISIS. Boko Haram was originally known as, ‘Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad’, meaning ‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’. Members of Boko Haram were Jihadi Islamists who opposed and boycotted anything western. They initially operated from their headquarters in Maiduguri. They now have taken control over Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and showered a wave of massacres, bombings, abduction and assassinations.
Now what is Boko Haram asking for?
They want to overthrow the government and establish a caliphate. An Islamic state.
Members of Boko Haram were furious that the Nigerian state, although run and governed by a Muslim president, was a state ruled by a bunch of non-believers or unfaithful Muslims.
When the Boko Harams started out they began with simply focusing on education. They promoted a dimension of Islam which made it a sin for a true Muslim to undergo western education. The word ‘Boko’ means fake, it refers to the ‘fake western education’ and ‘Haram’ means forbidden and hence the name translated to forbidding the fake western education system. And this is exactly what they went about doing.
Certain sections of Nigerian society already opposed the British education due to their hate for the colonisers. This made the job of the militant group easier. Boko Haram set up Islamic schools to impart the ‘true and rightful’ education a Muslim must receive. Ha! Boko Haram gave two shits for ‘true and rightful’ education. Poor Muslims in Nigeria and surrounding states readily enrolled their children into this religiously complex system trusting that their children would receive the peace loving teaching of Allah.Instead these ‘schools’ became breeding grounds for potential jihadists.
The Boko Harams soon declared it ‘Haram’ or sinful to even take part in any political or socially engaging activity associated with Western ideologies like voting, wearing shirts or trousers, receiving secular knowledge etc.
In 2009, Boko Haram carried out terror attacks on police stations and government buildings of Maiduguri which led to shoot-outs on the streets where hundreds of their supporters lost their lives and thousands of residents fled the city. The Nigerian security forces managed to seize the militant headquarters and captured and killed Mohammed Yusuf who was then spearheading the extremist group. His body was shown all over television and security forces declared the end of Boko Haram. The people breathed a sigh of relief which they regretted even before they fully exhaled.
The fighters of Boko Haram regrouped and appointed a new leader Abudakar Shekau within no time. They mourned for Mohammed Yusuf, appointed a new killer leader and reverted back in full force with a vengeance to consume more blood.
Despite all of this, it was only in 2013 that the United Nations finally baptised Boko Haram as a terrorist group. At this point the world feared that Boko Haram had close links with other terror groups like al- Qaeda. It was speculated that the extremist groups were coordinating to launch global jihad together.
A class act…
Boko Haram had panache. They had a trademark way of killing. The young men, all between the ages of 16 to 40 conducted their murders in full style. They usually fired as they rode their motorcycles in full speed, killing police, politicians, civilians and other Muslims who criticised Boko Haram. Not to mention the death of even the unfortunate supporters of Boko Haram who happened to be around at that fateful moment of attack.
These adrenaline pumped, young blooded fighters were drawn from Africa’s ethnic group- Kanuri. Kanuri’s were familiar with the Nigerian terrain and have distinctive facial scars and heavy Hausa accents that make them easily identifiable with other Nigerians.
In May 2013 President Good luck Jonathan declared an emergency in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, were the militant group was most active.
Boko Haram had a scary habit of holding on to any territory and inscripting their claim over it after an attack instead of retreating as any attacking terror troupe usually does. As soon as they occupy a land they establish base and begin attacks, fires and lootings on surrounding areas.
August 2014 was a turning point for the Boko Harams. Inspired and awed by Abu Bakr al-Bhaghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, the self declared caliph of Muslims worldwide; the terrorist group of Nigeria, after 11 years of establishing their rule, Abudakar Shekau, flanked by masked men in black carrying machine guns, declared “We are now in an Islamic caliphate. We have nothing to do with Nigeria. We don’t believe in this name.”
Choked pleas of Chibok…
As the day of 14th April 2014 started to draw to a close, little did the girls, who were going about their daily routine, know what the deadly night had in story for them. Boko Haram standing for eradication of western education stormed into a government-run girl’s boarding secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, north-eastern Nigeria. The militants were all heavily armed. In a calm and steady voice, a voice described by one of the girls as “so calm and steady that it churned my stomach” a militant member announced calling for all the girls to step out of the building and file out. The girls were terrified. Close to 300 girls were abducted that night. Some 11 of them managed to escape while getting shoved into the bushes. Boko Haram declared that the girls would be treated as slaves and be married off. They based this practice on the Islamic belief that women captured during conflict are part of ‘war booty’ and it was up to the discretion of the Caliph as to what to do with them.
The last straw cracks…
The people of Nigeria were horrifically taken aback at the almost indifferent attitude of the Government towards the kidnapping. It was Inefficient, slow response of Good luck Jonathan, the Nigerian President that proved his insensitiveness towards the grave situation. Imagine, on one side is a terror group hungry for your life and on the other a system that robs you of your sense of security. In such a situation death is probably easier to deal with than having to pick yourself up after your entire belief system has been turned upside down, telling you that even home is no longer safe for you and your care takers are just as helpless.
Boko Haram members consider the kidnapping of the Chibok girls as one of their most successful missions. They love narrating stories of how they whipped and lashed the girls until they begged to be converted to Islam. They brag of their captives who have been converted to Muslims and forced to marry the fighters. Some of these girls are subjected to violent sex from which ever soldier wishes to lay their hands on them. A few of them are said to have been trained and brainwashed to become suicide bombers. “They told me the Chibok girls have a new life where they learn to fight,” says Abigail John, 15, who was held by Boko Haram for more than four weeks before escaping. “They said we should be like them and accept Islam.” I believe their only saving grace would be to become as comfortably numb as soon as possible.
The world reacts…
The Chibok incident brought worldwide attention to the Boko Harams. It has now been more than 10 months since the abduction of the girls and close to 219 girls are still missing. A hash tag campaign was launched on twitter called #BringBackOurGirls which was popularised by Michelle Obama and has been retweeted close to 48,000 times. Good luck Jonathan has promised to increase pace of the search. Many countries, although unwilling to disclose their names due to fear are said to have extended their hands in helping Nigeria tackle the merciless killers. Michelle Obama in a press conference said “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters …we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”
Analysts have declared that although Nigeria has had a rich history of militant Islamist groups, Boko Haram has outlived them all and proved to be the most lethal, goriest, merciless Jihadi agent by far. Today, it has an army of over thousand men and access to vast amounts of money and weapons. They believe that Boko Haram will meet its death only when Nigeria’s government manages to reduce the chronic poverty and draw out a strong support group from the local Muslims (who are illiterate and often end up supporting the Jihadists)
The soul reacts…
Boko Haram has terrorised this world. There’s no doubt how cruel these militants have proved to be. But a nagging thought pricks me.
After all, the terror has not been committed by any other creature but man himself. How did this happen to us? Since when did religion mean bloodshed, stealing of innocence or such irreversible hurt? We are all partly to blame. Yes, each and every single one of us. It’s easy to blame the inefficiency of the system. But we often forget the system consists of me and you, it’s made for me and you, by me and you. Silence at a crime scene is probably worse a crime than the crime itself. Because the silence has a conscience.
How have we come to this point of helplessness? How will they pay for these sins? Who will tend to the wounds of the young, tender Jihadi boys who get sucked into the terror groups? What about the girl who will never see her parents again, the girl who is forced to allow a killers penis inside her and probably foster a child before she’s even had a chance to feel the wind in her hair, which every child her age has a right to.
Is there really space for so much pain in our world?
What happened to love?
Where are their souls?
Finally, which God will come to our rescue?