Nigeria (MNN) ― They're responsible for murdering 32 people on Christmas Day. They set off 10 car bombs in 24 hours to kill over 250 people. They've owned up to bombings, drive-by shootings, anti-Christian and anti-government warfare. For the last several months, they've aimed deathly explosives at churches on an almost weekly basis.
Hundreds have died at the hands of this terror group, but who exactly are they?
After all the talk on Mission Network News about Boko Haram targeting Nigerian Christians, we wanted to give our readers and listeners a profile of this terror sect. With Ramadan still in its beginning days, this is a crucial time to understand and pray.
Findings vary about when the Boko Haram (translated "Western education is a sin") was started, but dates vary between the mid 1990s and 2002. In a special report on the threats of Boko Haram to the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives noted that Boko Haram began as a religious study group. But when Nigerian civil service worker Mohammad Yusef took over, the group made a radical shift. In no time, they were calling themselves the Nigerian Taliban.
From 2002 to 2009, Boko Haram laid moderately low, engaging in only small scale run-ins with local police. But in July 2009, Boko Haram members launched an attack against a police station, resulting in a five-day stand-off and over 700 deaths.
Although the group was forced underground after that pestilent encounter, in 2010 they re-emerged more radical and violent than ever before. Most agree the group has gained a great deal of outside funding, and violence has been escalating ever since.
But the "why" questions still loom.