Great report by the United States Institute for Peace. It has a very good historical assessment of Boko Haram and comparison to the 1980s religious sect led by Maitatsine. Excellent reading for those wanting a detailed insight into Boko Haram. Key points:
*Boko Haram’s origins lie in a group of radical Islamist youth who worshipped at the Alhaji Muhammadu Ndimi Mosque in Maiduguri. In 2002, an offshoot of this youth group (not yet known as Boko Haram) declared the city and the Islamic establishment to be intolerably corrupt and irredeemable. The splinter faction withdrew and set up base in a village called Kanama in Yobe State, near Nigeria’s border with Niger.
*In 2003 they got into a local dispute which led to a gunfight between its members and the police. This incident led locals to nickname them the “Nigerian Taliban”. During this clash with the police Boko Haram’s then leader Mohammed Ali was killed.
*The survivors of the 2003 clash with the police returned to Maiduguri under the leadership of Mohammed Yusuf and built a new mosque in Maiduguri called the Ibn Taimiyyah Masjid. The new mosque was built on land owned by Mohammed Yusuf’s father-in-law, Baba Fugu Mohammed.
*The turning point for the group came when en route to a funeral, the group’s members got into an argument with police officers. Gunfire was exchanged. After this incident Boko Haram claimed that its members were unfairly imprisoned or arrested by the police. Boko Haram then carried out retaliatory attacks on the police, which brought them to national attention and led the army and the police to crack down on Boko Haram and imprison or summarily execute its members, including its leader Mohammed Yusuf.
*The name “Boko Haram” is not actually the name the group gave itself. The name was appellated to the group by observers and neighbours as a pejorative reference to the group’s preoccupation with criticising Western norms and education.