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Boko Haram and Jihad in Nigeria

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Nigeria has recently been confronted with increased terrorist activity by a group called Boko Haram. This group has been able to survive counterterrorist measures by the Nigerian government and has increased its attacks on targets inside and outside its traditional area of operation. On Christmas 2011, at least 25 churchgoers were killed. Earlier, Boko Haram hit the headquarters of the United Nations in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, in a suicide attack, leaving at least 23 people killed and more than 80 injured. This article will look into Boko Haram, its ideology, its methods, and its international connections. In order to determine whether or not the group is driven by religious motives, the authors consider Boko Haram’s use of religion as an ideology, as an instrument for recruitment, as a legitimation of extreme violence and as a criterion for the selection of targets. These indicators will be examined in order to learn more about the character of Boko Haram, about its ideology, its methods, and its international connections. The authors conclude that Boko Haram is indeed primarily driven by religious motives while its members are motivated by a Jihadist version of Islam. They view themselves as believers of the only true interpretation of the Islamic faith. Their aim is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria on the basis of the Sharia.


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