By Kaye Foley
On April 14, 2014, a group of terrorists known as Boko Haram raided a school in Chibok, Nigeria, and kidnapped 276 girls. The horrible act sparked outrage across the world and brought global attention to this militant Islamist group.
The name Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western education is sin,” captures some of the motivation behind the terrorist organization. It began in 2002 when a Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, started his own Islamic school and mosque, where he taught a rejection of principles associated with Western society. That means no secular education, no voting in elections and the dismissal of concepts like evolution and the Big Bang theory.
The school gained influence in northeastern Nigeria and eventually became a recruiting site for jihadis. In 2009, Boko Haram carried out militarized attacks against police stations and some government buildings. Yusuf was captured and killed by Nigerian security forces.
Abubakar Shekau took over as leader, and Boko Haram became even more radical. The insurgency of the militant fighters continued with the goal to create an Islamic state.
The group has enacted a campaign of violence, bombing and attacking churches, boarding schools, police headquarters and even the U.N. building in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. It is estimated that Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands of people.
Due to concerns of possible links to other terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida, the United States declared Boko Haram to be a terrorist organization in 2013. This March, Shekau pledged Boko Haram’s allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, which IS reportedly accepted.
Many have criticized the Nigerian government’s inability to eradicate the militant group, and last month President Goodluck Jonathan was voted out of office. President-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will take office on May 29. He has vowed that Boko Haram “will know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas.”
Meanwhile, the kidnapped girls have yet to be found and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls is as relevant as ever. When it comes to the terror of Boko Haram, at least after watching this video you’ll be able to say, “Now I get it.”