The Boko Haram group, which is believed to have existed since the late 1990s, is organized under the aegis of the Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf. Centered in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Nigeria, it aims to institute Sharia law. But there are terrifying facts about this terrorist group.
Since Boko Haram began in 2009, the radical group has been waging a catastrophic war against the Nigerian State and its neighboring countries. In the year 2013 alone, 10,000 people died, more people have been killed since then. Dig a few more in-depth, and you will discover a nightmare of violence and blood, threatening to tear the heart of West and Central Africa apart.
These ten facts about the Boko Haram terrorist group are terrifying
10. Kidnapping of Schoolgirls
Boko Haram members kidnap about 276 teenage girls from a Chibok boarding school in Borno on April 14, 2014. The then abduction caused worldwide outrage and a #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media.
In Adition, a faction in Boko Haram attacks the Government Girls’ College of Science and Technology in the northeastern Nigerian town of Dapchi, kidnapping 110 students from the college.
9. Selling of under-aged girls
In a statement in a released video by the terrorist group, a man reported to be Shekau explained the reason they abduct mostly under-aged girls. “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah… there is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he emphasized on the video (translation from the local Hausa language), first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
8. Expanding of Caliphate
In an audio message allegedly from a spokesman for the Boko Haram terrorist group, the group announced that the caliphate has expanded to West Africa and that the head of The Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has accepted the oath of allegiance of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram currently controls more than 50,000 square kilometers of northeastern Nigeria, creating its caliphate that governs about 1.6 million people, and its activities have spread to Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
7. Horrific attacks
Since December 2003, the first known attack made by Boko Haram focused on several police stations in Yobe State, near the Niger border. In 2010, in Bauchi state, the group attacked a prison, killing five people and releasing more than 700 detainees. On May 29, 2011, during the inauguration of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Boko Haram detonated three booby traps near a military barracks. At least ten people died in the attack.
More than 100 people die in multiple attacks in Yobo, Damaturu, and Borno states on November 4, 2011, while on January 20, 2012, more than 200 people are killed when Boko Haram launches coordinated attacks on police, army, a prison and other targeted in Kano State. In 2015, about 30 people died, and 145 were injured after Boko Haram militants attacked a crowded market in Kerawa, Cameroon.
February 2016-Boko Haram militants attacked two villages in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 30 people. In another attack, two female suicide bombers killed 58 people in a Nigerian refugee camp. March 1, 2018-Boko Haram activists attack a camp for displaced people in Rann, Borno State, killing at least three Nigerian aid workers and injuring three others.
On December 11, 2019, more than 70 soldiers feared killed in an ambush in Niger. March 24, 2020-Boko Haram kills 92 Chadian soldiers in a seven-hour attack.
6. Nigeria Military also worse
As Boko Haram becomes more impudent, the Nigerian State responds by falling to dangerous extremes. Following the mass escape of prisoners in March 2014, Amnesty announced that the military had tracked down and killed 600 former prisoners in one night without trial.
The fugitives were surrounded, forced to dig their graves and then shot or stabbed as part of a clean-up operation. Within two months, a military detachment opened fire on a group of protesters, killing 19 adults and two children. These are far from isolated cases.
A 10-year amnesty investigation revealed that the Nigerian State often electrocuted, tortured, and molested men, women, and children as part of its fight against the terrorist group. Individual reports concluded that the military was utterly corrupt and distrustful of up to 90 percent of all Nigerians.
5. Grant government amnesty
In April 2013, the Goodluck Jonathan’s led-administration states he has inaugurated a committee to explore the possibility of Amnesty for the Boko Haram members. In an audio response, Shekau stated that it is not “surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us Amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.”
4. Fake military uniform
In May 2013, the Nigerian army warned the public about the use of military camouflage by members of the Boko Haram sect to commit violence and create the impression that the military is responsible.
Not quite long after the warning, on September 17, 2013, Boko Haram militants changed into military uniforms. They built a fake checkpoint near Benisheik in Borno, burning cars and executing travelers, which killed at least 143 people.
3. Using children for suicide bombing
On January 10, 2015, a 10-year-old girl walked into a busy market in Maiduguri, Borno State. While the shoppers were doing their daily chores, the girl detonated a suicide belt, murdering 20 and injuring many more. The girl herself was torn in half by the explosion, part of her body was thrown over the nearby buildings by the force of the blast.
Officials later stated that she might not have known what she was carrying, bringing the total number of innocent people killed in the attack to 21.
2. Politically scorecard for campaign
Since insurgence of Boko Haram activities and declaring them a terrorist group, every presidential aspirant and governorship aspirants from the affected states pledged to crush and eradicate this group. Promises upon promises for may years, yet effort not encouraging.
In 2014, President Buhari had promised to defeat the group if elected. In February 2016, during his interview with BBC on Friday, he maintained that indeed the terrorists had been “technically defeated”. One would wonder if it was fair to say a group that killed over 65 persons in a single attack, in the same month, he claimed the victory, had been “technically defeated”.
1. Death and resurfacing of Abubakar Shekau
Abubakar Shekau was first reportedly killed in 2009 but reappeared as the leader of the group after allegedly dying the previous year. On August 19, 2013, Nigeria’s Chief Army spokesman claimed that Shekau might have been killed after an attack on June 30, but the claim never verified.
In a video that appeared on September 25, 2013, a man claiming to be Shekau says he is alive and doing well. However, his identity is not verified.
The Nigerian army also claimed to have killed him in the battle of kodunga in 2014, while on May 5, 2014, in a video statement, a man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau resurfaced.
The Cameroonian army posted a photo and also claimed that its forces had killed Shekau in September 2014. In early October 2014, the AFP news agency obtained a video showing Shekau alive, in which he mocked the Nigerian army’s allegations that he had been killed.
The Chadian President, Idriss Déby, also claimed in mid-August 2015 that Mahamat Daoud had replaced Shekau. Still, on March 7, 2015, in an audio message allegedly from Shekau, Boko Haram terrorist group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
Shekau was reported “mortally wounded” during an airstrike in the village of Taye on August 19, 2016, by the Nigerian Air Force, which also killed some of Boko Haram’s senior leaders. Not quite long, on September 25 of the same year, a video of a man claiming to be Shekau was posted on YouTube, in which he claimed that he was alive and healthy.
In a video posted on June 27, 2017, Shekau claimed responsibility for the abduction of Nigerian policewomen and criticized the Nigerian government for declaring victory over Boko Haram.
This video appears to be further evidence of Shekau’s survival. Shekau released a video in February 2020, threatening the Minister of Information and Digital Economy for preaching against Boko Haram.