Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Boko Haram

aka Nigerian Taliban; Jama'atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda'Awati Wal Jihad; Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad; People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad; Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihad

Description: Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013, and led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram (BH) is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009. The group espouses a violent Sunni extremist ideology and at times has received assistance, including funds and training, from al Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Activities: Among its major attacks, BH was responsible for the August 26, 2011 bomb attack on the UN building in Abuja that killed at least 21 people and wounded dozens more. The group is also responsible for the January 2012 attacks in Kano, Nigeria, in which a wave of bomb attacks in the city killed more than 180 people in a single day.

BH maintained a high operational tempo in 2013, claiming or being accused of a number of significant attacks in northeast Nigeria, including March 14 and 22 attacks on prisons in Gwoza and Adamawa that freed approximately 270 BH members or associates; a September attack on a school in Mamudo, Yobe state, that killed 65 students; and a December 2 attack on a Nigerian military airbase in Maiduguri that killed at least 20 Nigerian military personnel and destroyed military equipment, including two helicopters. Among its most lethal attacks, Boko Haram was responsible for indiscriminate attacks in Benisheikh, Nigeria, in September that killed more than 160 civilians, many of them innocent women and children, in a single day.

Boko Haram has also increasingly crossed Nigerian borders to evade pressure and conduct operations. In February 2013, Boko Haram was responsible for kidnapping seven French tourists in the Far North of Cameroon. In November 2013, Boko Haram members kidnapped a French priest in Cameroon. In December 2013, Boko Haram gunmen reportedly attacked civilians in several areas of northern Cameroon. Security forces from Chad and Niger also reportedly partook in skirmishes against suspected Boko Haram members along Nigeria's borders. In 2013, the group also kidnapped eight French citizens in northern Cameroon and obtained ransom payments for their release.

Strength: Membership estimates range from the hundreds to a few thousand.

Location/Area of Operation: Northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and Lake Chad Basin.

Funding and External Aid: BH receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransoms. The group has also received funding from AQIM.


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