The notorious controversial Islamic preacher Mohammed Marwa (Maitatsine), who forbade reading any books other than the Quran, had an influence on Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of Boko Haram.
In an interview held in 2009, Yusuf personally emphasised his resistance to not only Western education but also to the theory of evolution, a spherical (not flat) Earth, and the notion that rain is produced and brought down directly by God instead of through “evaporation induced by the sun.”
The formation of an Islamic state in Nigeria is what Boko Haram calls for in opposition to the Westernisation of Nigerian society, which it accuses of being the root cause of “Nigeria’s culture of corruption.”
It became a terrorist organisation in 2009. The group, which identifies itself as Sunni Salafi Jihadis, seeks to re-establish the Islamic caliphate and subjugate all peoples, eliminating contemporary states and any sense of patriotism towards them.
Following Boko Haram’s declaration of allegiance, the Islamic State declared in a statement that “the rejection of nationalism drove the mujahidin (jihad fighters) in Nigeria to give bay’ah (fealty) to the Islamic State and wage war against the Nigerian murtaddin (apostates) fighting for the Nigerian taghut (idolatrous tyrant).”
Boko Haram was founded in 2002, but as it became more radicalised, the Nigerian military launched an operation to put an end to it, and in July 2009, its leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed extrajudicially.
Its unexpected resurgence, following a mass prison break in September 2010 in Bauchi, was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated attacks, initially against soft targets, but progressing in 2011 to include suicide bombings of police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja. The government’s establishment of a state of emergency at the beginning of 2012, extended in the following year to cover the entire northeast of Nigeria, led to an increase in both security force abuses and militant attacks.
Of the 2.3 million people who have fled the conflict’s displacement since May 2013, at least 250,000 have done so from Nigeria to Cameroon, Chad, or Niger Republic.
Boko Haram killed around 6,600 individuals in 2014. The group has carried out massacres, including the killing by fire of 59 schoolboys in February 2014, and mass abductions, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, in April 2014. The security services’ abuse of human rights and corruption have made it difficult to quell the unrest.
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