by Florian Flade
In 2009 international media for the first time reported about a ominous Islamist group operating in Nigeria – Boko Haram. The group whose name is translated from the Northern Nigerian Hausa language into “Western Eduction is forbidden” carried out a series of attacks, killing dozens of policemen in Christian-dominated regions of Nigeria´s north.
As a result Nigerian security forces took revenge on the Islamists of Boko Haram killing hundreds of the group´s members in and around the city of Maiduguri. Boko Harams leader and founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was captured by security forces. Yusuf had created the Islamist movement in 2002 starting with a network of mosques and Islamic schools to spread Salafi Islam in Nigeria.
Nigerian security forces claimed Mohammed Yusuf was killed during his arrest. Video footage which emerged several days after the raid on Boko Haram showed Mohammed Yusuf alive in custody being interrogated. He was shot dead by Nigerian soldiers and policemen, his body was also seen in videos released later.
While Nigeria´s government declared Boko Haram to be finished the movement re-grouped and emerged even more dangerous than previously. Hundreds of Boko Haram members were freed from prison by a large group of Islamists in 2011. Since then dozens of attacks – including suicide bombings – have been carried out by Boko Haram against Christians, Nigerian police and military targets.
U.S. intelligence officials are warning of a emerging threat posed to Western interests by Boko Haram. The group has been labeled a terrorist group which might seek to establish close ties with Al-Qaida and its African branches in the Maghreb and in Somalia.
In fact there are unconfirmed reports of Boko Haram members being trained as terrorists in Somalia by the Islamist organization Al-Shabaab. Other reports claim foreign terrorists are establishing training camps in Nigeria, importing bomb-building know-how and ideology to the Nigerian Muslim communities.
A few days ago a video message by a Boko Haram leader to the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was posted on Youtube. The man seen in the video was thought to be dead, killed in the 2009-crackdown on Boko Haram – the group´s spiritual leader Imam Abu Bakr Shekau.
“All these things you have been seeing happening, it is Allah who has been doing it because you refuse to believe in him and you misuse his religion, Jonathan”, the Islamist leader says vowing the Boko Haram would never be defeated by Nigeria´s security forces.
“Christians, everyone knows what they have done to us and the Muslims (…)”, Shekau further stated, “We decided to attack them and defend us, because we are on the right path (…) Everyone knows how our leader (Muhammad Yusuf) was killed and everyone knows how Muslims were killed.”
Abu Bakr Shekau promises more attacks on Christians in Nigeria, highlighting why the situation in Nigeria has come to this point in his opinion: “The disaster is caused by disbelief, discomfort is disbelief, injustice is disbelief, democracy and the Constitution is disbelief.”