Everything You Need to Know About Boko Haram - PolicyMic
I love PolicyMic, here are some excerpts from their well documented report:
“In 2001, a young Muslim cleric named Mohammed Yusuf in the northern city Maiduguri [the capital of Borno state] began preaching against the government’s ills, such as corruption, lack of adequate employment and education and the persistence of poverty,”said journalist Alexis Okeowo in a recent interview with Foreign Policy Interrupted.
The group’s initial aims were not violent government overthrow. Rather it called for the government to be replaced by Shari’a law, and for its full and correct enactment in the states that had incorporated it into their penal codes.
In the early years, Boko Haram leaders “had a cordial relationship” with the state government in Borno, if not the federal government, said Barkindo. “For example, Yusuf was a member of the Sharia Implementation Committee of Borno state. Most Boko Haram leaders were part of the political thugs used by politicians to confront their rivals in 1999 and the 2003 elections.”
A law enforcing bicycle helmets indirectly spurred Boko Haram into tactical violence, and led to it splintering off into the structure we know today.
It was a 2009 Borno state ban on riding bikes without helmets, likely combined with mounting violence between Christian communities and frustration with police corruption, that helped things come to a head between the government and Boko Haram.
(Mohammed) Yusuf’s early work won the group both moral and financial support among sectors of the public, as well as some political players. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has even claimed that presently Boko Haram members are in the upper echelons of Nigerian government and law enforcement.
Even when he was living, Yusuf “didn’t have complete control of the group, and after his execution, his followers split into at least five factions”, reads a Council on Foreign Relations brief on the group.
Now the group operates in cell-like fashion, and maintains near invisibility. Crimes believed to be carried out by Boko Haram are sometimes never claimed by the group. Their structure also makes them difficult to engage.
The most recent kidnapping of the school girls in Chibok is a tragedy, but it’s also a tactical move by the group.
“Boko Haram wants to instill fear in the populace, demonstrate that the government can no longer protect Nigerians and make the government look incapable before the people,” said Barkindo.
Quite simply, the kidnappings give Boko Haram leverage.
Well worth reading more: Everything You Need to Know About Boko Haram, the Group Kidnapping Nigerian Girls - PolicyMic