This summary answers the question: Who Is Boko Haram? You can learn more about Boko Haram with full fact sheets, timelines, backgrounders and history here.

Boko Haram is one of the most ruthless and violent terrorist groups in the world today.

Since 2009 when the organization launched its first military operations Boko Haram has become a growing and at times overwhelming concern for Nigeria. The organization’s crimes launched them into the global spotlight when they kidnapped more than 200 young girls from their school in 2014.

who is boko haram

Prior to this event the group also claimed responsibility for a 2011 bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja and a 2010 prison attack that freed more than 700 political prisoners. Boko Haram became the first domestic organization to introduce suicide bombings to Nigeria and since that introduction in 2011 it has claimed responsibility for scores of such attacks. Its military operations have included the killing, kidnapping and massacre of thousands.

Most recently they were among the first to pioneer female suicide bombings in their terrorist activity.

who is boko haram

Who Is Boko Haram  and What Does Their Name Mean?


Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad which translates to “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad” is the actual name of the group but they have been nicknamed locally as Boko Haram. This is the name by which the international community knows them. Boko Haram translates loosely to English as “Western education is forbidden.” The mission of Boko Haram is not based upon opposition to western education but to western values.

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Who Is Boko Haram?


In 2014 after taking swaths of territory in Nigeria and proclaiming Sharia law the groups leaders pledged their loyalty and allegiance to ISIS who was rising to the forefront of the world stage and attention in the Middle East. By the end of 2014 Boko Haram attacks were prevailing not only in their native Nigeria but also in the surrounding nations of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Commentators worried of a growing belt of Islamic extremism stretching across the globe from the Taliban in Afghanistan to Boko Haram in West Africa.


All of these issues are covered in explainers and backgrounders in my in depth look at Everything You Need to Know About Boko Haram.


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If you are enjoying this Boko Haram Explainer and Backgrounder you might also enjoy my Boko Haram Intelligence Brief available at Amazon.