Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamist group, has been creating chaos and instability through unspeakable crimes and acts of limitless violence, all in a bid to create and maintain an Islamic state. Forming in 2002, Boko Haram began cultivating their reign of terror approximately nine years ago, launching attacks on local law enforcement, politicians, and religious leaders within Islam and among its Christian neighbors. Boko Haram eventually drew worldwide attention and outrage when its members kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from a learning facility to be sold or married off to jihadi soldiers, prompting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. But Boko Haram’s militant regime may finally be coming to an end.
Boko Haram’s stronghold primarily covers northeastern territory, but has been on the cusp of spilling over the Cameroon border, stirring the development of a five-country task force that includes Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad. Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has tasked his military chief with defeating Boko Haram within the next three months, while Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, has promised to end Boko Haram’s rule, “decapitating” them by the end of the year, according to France24, promising a “short war” made up of regional forces.
But residents have heard this promise before.
Boko Haram had long earned the US label of terrorist group before their widely-seen videos gained notoriety. Just as the militant group had been gaining prominence within Nigeria’s borders, State security forces destabilized them once before, killing its then-leader, Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf was later replaced by a visibly erratic madman, Abubakar Shekau, who began to propel Boko Haram forward with a twofold goal of creating an Islamic state and becoming a recruiting ground for jihadis, according to the BBC. Since then, Boko Haram has captured over 2,000 children, trading girls as sex slaves and boys as its newest soldiers. Recently, the girls have been used as suicide bombers.
Shekau, rumored to be dead, declared Boko Haram an Islamic caliphate, formalized its ties and pledged its allegiance to ISIS. ISIS in turn accepted Boko Haram, further establishing the territories captured by Boko Haram to be the Islamic State of West Africa.
With Shekau out of the way, and new leader Mahamat Daoud in his place, President Deby sees this as a chance to destabilize Boko Haram, as it should have done in 2009. Doing so would be critical at this time, since Boko Haram now has the full support of ISIS, a group who is richer in extremism and financial resources.
Analysts have surmised that Boko Haram could weaken with increased government efforts to reduce poverty and increase access to education, but President Debay is more confident in his military plan to battle the insurgency.
“It is within our power to definitively overcome Boko Haram.”
[Photo courtesy of BBC News UK]