The Changing Face of Boko Haram


Great article in the Financial Times about Nigeria’s security challenge – as posed by Boko Haram. If you want to get a quick synopsis on the phenomenon of Boko Haram, the key passage is:


“[Mohammed] Yusuf, who named his sect “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”, reasoned that elements in the modern education system conflicted with this interpretation of Islam – hence his movement’s nickname. “On education, he did not want mixed schools, or the teaching of evolution. He wanted children to have more time to study their religion,” says Mr Salkida. “But it was not just education. Democracy was alien to him, and he said he could not support a government whose constitution was not based on the Koran.”


A former Boko Haram member interviewed for the article was close by when Boko Haram’s former leader Mohammed Yusuf was summarily executed by the Nigerian police in 2009:


“Mr Salkida witnessed the fervency of Yusuf’s followers when violence first erupted in July 2009. On capturing a policeman – a fellow Muslim – they “slaughtered him like a goat”. At the same time, hundreds of Boko Haram members were thrown into police cells – as was Mr Salkida. When Yusuf was brought in, Mr Salkida heard police singing “no mercy, no mercy”. Yusuf was executed by an impromptu firing squad behind Mr Salkida’s cell.”


However Boko Haram continues to exist even after the death of its leader. The new leader is believed to be Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s deputy:


“Shekau was always studying and writing, and was more devoted and modest than anyone else. He would only wear cheap clothes and did not accept even to drive a car, preferring a motorbike. Even when Boko Haram was peaceful, he was somehow more feared than Yusuf.”


There is some hope that Boko Haram may become battle weary and can be bargained with:


“If there was a Muslim president tomorrow, this would not end. The war is not about individuals, it’s about institutions. Boko Haram sees the northern governors and emirs as part of the institutions…But I believe Boko Haram wants to end this, just not in a climate of uncertainty and insincerity. Compromises are possible.”


4 responses

  1. Boko Haram is an elusive concept that may only be understood in the wider context of prevailing contradictions within the Nigerian political economy.

    This explains the visible mutations and shifting perceptions in our effort to understand it.

  2. compromise is the most suitable solution. and we are begging for god mercy that boko haram should live kano due to the in convinence made by them but we still pesuade to them that dere should be peace becouse inocent are the once suffering.

  3. all this are cost by the president sit .my maid is let obama should look into this country and divid this country called nigeria

  4. Guchacks danjuma | Reply

    De issue here is not weda to divid de country or not but to pray an seek 4 long lastin solution to de problem of our land, it`s only god dat can help us.

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