Boko Haram - Islamic Terrorists in Nigeria


Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist movement that operates out of north-eastern Nigeria. There are up to 10 000 members of the group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. Boko Haram is also thought to have connections with al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The organization has been active since 2009, killing more than 5000 civilians, mainly in Nigeria’s Northern provinces.  In the last five years Boko Haram have kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children, including some western tourists.  By 2014 over half a million people have fled from the conflict zone to neighbouring countries.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002. Violence started increasing in 2009 when its founder was killed. Since then the terrorist group has carried out numerous attacks on police buildings and other governmental organizations. Targets include politicians and religious leaders. In 2011 Boko Haram a car bomb exploded in a UN office in the capital, Abuja, killing 21 people.

The Islamic movement has been in control of a territory of about 50,000 square kilometres in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is also active in neighbouring Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. Islamic fighters escape the Nigerian army by retreating to these countries. The army’s attempt to fight Boko Haram has not been successful. The country’s armed forces are short of money. Some officers and soldiers are corrupt and sympathise with Boko Haram.

Boko Haram is a fundamentalist movement that follows the sharia. It is against western values, especially education, and wants Nigeria’s poor people to receive a part of the country’s oil revenues. Since 2000, the sharia has been introduced by local authorities, mostly in the Islamic north of the country.

Since Nigeria became independent from Great Britain in 1960 the country has been ruled by civilian governments as well as military dictators. The country is split between the poor Islamic north and the wealthier Christian south. In the past few years northern politicians have become strongly sympathetic to Boko Haram and other Islamic groups.

Although Boko Haram has a hierarchical structure, the organization operates in cells with a few hundred fighters each. The terrorists get their money from kidnappings and are also funded by Islamic-friendly governments. Drug trafficking, smuggling and rhino poaching are other sources of income.


Boko Haram militants in Nigeria

Boko Haram militants in Nigeria



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  • although = while
  • armed forces = army
  • attempt = try
  • capital = the main city of a country; where the government is
  • cell = group, unit
  • civilian = a person who is not in the army
  • connection = link, relationship
  • dictator = person who has complete power over a country; in most cases they are not elected
  • drug-trafficking = buying and selling drugs
  • escape = get away from
  • especially = above all
  • establish = start, begin, set up
  • flee-fled =escape
  • found-founded = start something new
  • fund = get money from
  • fundamentalist = someone who has very strict religious beliefs
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • hierarchical = ordered
  • including = also
  • increase = to go up
  • independent = free
  • kidnap = to take someone and hold them prisoner in order to get money for returning them
  • local authorities = the government or council that rules a small part of the land
  • mainly = mostly
  • movement = organization, group
  • numerous = many
  • officer = someone who is in a high position in the army, air force or navy
  • oil revenues = the money that a country gets from selling oil
  • operate = work out of …
  • politician = someone who works in politics or in the government
  • receive = get
  • retreat  = move back to
  • rhino poaching = to hunt rhinos illegally and sell their valuable horns
  • rule = control
  • sharia = Islamic law
  • smuggling = take something illegally from one country to another
  • soldier = person who fights for a country
  • source of income = place where you get money
  • split = divided
  • state = country
  • strongly = very much
  • successful = here: if something works the way you want it to
  • sympathise = to support someone and help them
  • target = a person that is to be attacked
  • territory = land
  • thought to have = people think that …
  • value = idea
  • violence = fighting
  • wealthier = richer