Boko Haram is a radical Islamist sect of Islam that has been committing terrorist acts throughout Northern Nigeria since it was formed in 2002.
The group's official name is
Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "The Group of Al-Sunna For Preaching and Jihad".
Local residents refer to the sect as 'Boko Haram,' which means 'Western education if sinful' (or sacrilege)' -- a reference to the groups' belief that Western education corrupts Muslims.
Boko Haram's aim is to fight the Nigerian government through
Jihad and to establish an Islamic state (ruled by Sharia).
The BBC says
Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: "Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors".
Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.
This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education.
Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president.
- Source: Farouk Chotia, Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists? BBC, January 11, 2012 Articles
Boko Haram: Rocking the Nigerian boat Leela Jacinto, France 24, Jan. 27, 2001: Founded in 2002 in northern Nigeria, the Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a number of sophisticated attacks. France 24 takes a closer look at those who are threatening to fracture Nigeria's precarious sectarian fault lines.
The Rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria David Cook, Combating Terrorism Center at Westpoint. This article chronicles the rise of Boko Haram, identifying the two phases in which the group has passed. It also suggests how the group may proceed in the future.
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists? Farouk Chothia, BBC, Jan. 11, 2012. A general overview that provides a basic explanation of the group, its goals and activities. Multimedia
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