The Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf in Nigeria. Though he was killed by security forces in 2009, Abubakar Shekau took over and plunged the terrorist group into even greater depths.
While haram is a word common to Indians, Boko roughly translates to “Western education” making the goal of the terrorists quite clear. Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not the only person to have announced a Caliphate. Shekau shares his views.
In all Boko Haram has killed in excess of 5000 while lakhs of people have been displaced. Kidnappings are a regular affair with the most high profile one being the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, one of the few Boko Haram dastardly deeds which got great global coverage.
They have also bombed a UN building in Abuja. While they are based out of Nigeria, areas in Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been affected.
While Al-Qaeda caught the public imagination in the 2000s, who would have thought that Islamic State and Boko Haram would surpass them in the 2010s!
A look at some of their deadliest attacks with the death toll mentioned at the very beginning…
2000: This is like 9/11. From January 3-7, Boko Haram practically burnt the town of Baga in Nigeria and the area was littered with burnt bodies. 35,000 people fled the area and many drowned in the nearby Lake Chad while trying to escape.
Baga bore the brunt in 2013 too when 200 were killed and hundreds more were injured. An estimated 2000 houses were destroyed. However some blamed the Nigerian military for this even as the military blamed Boko Haram.
One must say that the reaction of the Western media has been quite lukewarm especially when you consider that the Charlie Hebdo attack took place at exactly the same time.
336: In May 2014, Boko Haram terrorists came in stolen armoured personnel carriers and opened fire with AK-47s and destroyed the twin towns of Gamboru and Ngala in the dead of the night.
200: In the very next month (June 2014) Boko Haram dressed as soldiers and perpetrated a massacre in Gwoza.
180: The Islamist group launched a series of co-ordinated attacks on churches in throughout January in 2012 in Abuja. They were protesting against the detention of Boko Haram members.
130: Boko Haram terrorists go around killing at times without even making world headlines. Sometimes their deeds are noticed much later. Like the July 2012 Plateau State massacre where 130 bodies of villagers were discovered with Boko Haram being the prime suspect.
120: Boko Haram does not even spare mosques. At the Grand Mosque in Kano in November 2014, serial blasts targeted those who were doing their Friday prayers. The reason for this was that because the Emir of Kano, who also happens to be a Muslim cleric, said that the people should arm themselves against Boko Haram.
Muslim leaders have also been assassinated.
118: Plateau State was targeted again a target during the 2014 Jos bombings where two bombs were placed near a bus stop and a market place.
100: In the 2011 Damaturu attacks, government buildings, police stations, banks and churches all were targeted via car bombings and masked men spreading havoc for hours.
88: Bombs went off during rush hour at a busy bus station in Abuja in April 2014. 200 were injured.
55: Boko Haram and Nigerian military forces clash regularly. Whenever Boko Haram terrorists are captured, more attacks are unleashed to release them. One such incident in Bama in May 2013 saw the release of more than 100 jail inmates at a great death toll.
More than 700 prisoners escaped in the Bauchi prison break in 2010.
Educational institutions: The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s dastardly attack on the Peshawar school left got great international attention. But Boko Haram has been attacking educational institutes regularly.
More than 40 were killed in each of the following attacks: Yobe State School and college, Gujba College of Agriculture and institutes in Mubi. The University of Maiduguri was also targeted.
Many of the killings do not even make international headlines and if you surf the Internet then you will find very little information and details for some of the massacres. Sometimes a single death in Gaza or Europe will get much more coverage than hundreds dying at the hands of Boko Haram.