Danger at Home: Boko Haram's Threat to Nigeria and The Limits of Its Strategic Expansion

EvolutionBoko Haram, which calls itself Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda’awati w’al Jihad, was founded in 2002 with the ultimate goal to establish Sharia Law in Nigeria and destroy the country’s Western-imported institutions, including education and democracy. In its first years, however, Boko Haram was an isolated religious community based on Salafist principles and the societal model of the Taliban, and thus it was nicknamed the “Nigerian Taliban.” Its base in Kanamma village in Nigeria’s Yobe State, located three kilometers from the border with Niger, was referred to as “Afghanistan,” and it attracted followers from Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, including Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Despite Boko Haram’s multi-national membership and aspects of its ideology imported from abroad, the group only sought to exert influence in Nigeria, while retaining an arsenal of weapons for what it considered “defense.” More than one decade later, Boko Haram is now one of the…

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About the Contributor

Jacob Zenn

Jacob Zenn earned a J.D. from Georgetown Law with the commendation of a Global Law Scholar and a Certificate in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (...

Virginia Comolli

Virginia Comolli runs the IISS Security and Development programme which analyses complex forms of insecurity afflicting the developing world. She joined the Institute in 2006 as part of the Military...