In this day and age, Al-Qaeda is a household name and many would consider it public enemy number one. But one group with ties to Al-Qaeda has managed to operate for several years without drawing much international attention. Boko Haram is the insurgency group many people have never heard of. This week the group drew international attention when a bomb detonated under a busy bus station in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, killing more than 70 people. That same day, militants abducted 136 schoolgirls in Borno – an action which was met with a severely botched response from Nigerian authorities.
But these are only the newest in a long line of disgusting and brutal attacks perpetrated at the hands on Boko Haram. The name “Boko Haram” roughly translates to “Western education is sinful.” As such, the group has repeatedly sought to attack and kill children, often while they are in school. In July 2013, gunmen attacked a Nigerian school killing 20 students. Two months later militants in Yobe State opened fire on students while they slept, killing at least forty. In February of this year, the Islamist militants killed 106 villagers in Izghe. The militants began their massacre by rounding up a group of men, shooting them, and then going door-to-door killing anyone they found.
This is just a small sampling of the terror Boko Haram has inflicted in Nigeria over the past few years. However, the average American has probably never heard of the name Boko Haram, or or only heard of it recently. Why is this? I believe Boko Haram is blessed and cursed by its limited means. While Boko Haram has voiced a desire to strike internationally – including America – it is not yet organized enough to do so. With the threat contained to Nigeria, the international community has been slow to act, leaving the ill-equipped Nigerian police and military to deal with the problem. In fact, the US did not formally designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization until late 2013, after thousands of killings had been perpetrated by the group.
Do you think the international community has been slow to react to Boko Haram? If so, what is the reason for this? Is this a domestic problem for Nigeria to deal with or an international problem?
Image Source: BBC