Boko Haram (da una locuzione hausa che letteralmente significa «l'educazione occidentale è peccato») è un'organizzazione terroristica jihadista diffusa nel nord della Nigeria. È anche nota come Gruppo della Gente della Sunna per la propaganda religiosa e la Jihad (in arabo: جماعة اهل السنة للدعوة والجهاد, Jamāʿat Ahl al-Sunna li-daʿwa wa l-Jihād).
L'organizzazione ha adottato il nome ufficiale di "Gruppo della Gente della Sunna per la propaganda religiosa e per la Jihād" (in arabo: جماعة أهل السنة للدعوة والجهاد, Jamāʿat Ahl al-Sunna li-daʿwa wa l-Jihād) ma nella città di Maiduguri, dove essa si era formata, le fu dato il soprannome di Boko Haram. Il termine "Boko Haram" deriva dalla parola hausa bokoche significa "educazione occidentale" e la parola araba harām, che indica un divieto legale , metaforicamente, il "peccato". Il nome, liberamente tradotto dalla lingua hausa, "l'educazione occidentale è sacrilega" o "vietata" o "peccato". Il nome è dovuto alla dura opposizione all'Occidente, inteso come corruttore dell'Islam.
Il gruppo viene fondato da Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf nel 2001 o nel 2002 nella città di Maiduguri con l'idea di instaurare la shari'a nel Borno con l'ex governatore Ali Modu Sheriff. Yusuf fonda un complesso religioso che comprende una moschea ed una scuola, dove le famiglie povere della Nigeria e degli stati vicini possano iscrivere i propri figli.
Il centro si dà altri obiettivi politici e presto lavora per reclutare i futuri jihadisti per combattere lo Stato federale. Il gruppo include membri provenienti dai confinanti Ciad e Niger, e parla solamente arabo. Nel 2004 il complesso sposta la propria sede nel villaggio di Kanamma, vicino il confine col Niger.
Eric Guttschuss (Human Rights Watch) racconta ad IRIN News che Yusuf attirava con successo seguaci tra i giovani disoccupati "parlando male della polizia e della corruzione politica". Abdulkarim Mohammed, studioso di Boko Haram, ha aggiunto che le insurrezioni violente in Nigeria sono dovute "alla frustrazione per la corruzione e al malessere sociale sulla povertà e la disoccupazione".
Il gruppo è divenuto noto internazionalmente dopo le violenze religiose in Nigeria del 2009.
Dopo la morte di Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, avvenuta nel 2009, il suo posto è stato preso da Abubakar Shekau.
È organizzata come movimento clandestino d'ispirazione islamica fondamentalista che ha come obiettivo l'abolizione del sistema secolare e l'imposizione dellasharīʿa nel paese.
Prima che il gruppo divenisse noto internazionalmente dopo le violenze religiose in Nigeria del 2009, Boko Haram non aveva una struttura organizzativa precisa o una catena di comando chiara, ma adesso si sa che è diviso in tre fazioni. Inoltre è ancora argomento di discussione se Boko Haram sia collegato al terrorismo straniero e in che misura i suoi combattenti si siano frequentemente scontrati con il governo centrale nigeriano.
Il gruppo è anche noto per numerosi attacchi a chiese cristiane e per le violenze religiose in Nigeria del 2009, che ha reso il gruppo noto a livello internazionale. Nel 2011 è stato ritenuto responsabile di oltre 450 omicidi in Nigeria.
Un portavoce di Boko Haram ha dichiarato che Ibrahim Shekarau, governatore di Kano, e Isa Yuguda, governatore di Bauchi, hanno entrambi pagato mensilmente il gruppo terroristico.
POLITICAL ELITES IN NIGERIA TRADE ACCUSATIONS OVER WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FAILURE TO STEM BOKO HARAM'S VIOLENCE.
Zainab Usman is a doctoral candidate in International Development at the University of Oxford. Her research assesses political institutions, the oil economy and economic reform in Nigeria since the transition to democracy in 1999.
Some 5,000 people have been killed in violence instigated by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria [AP]
Nigeria has recently been brought to global media attention both as the largest economy in Africa and as the home country of the Boko Haram insurgency. The growing security threat has been accompanied by a failure to develop a comprehensive narrative about Boko Haram's origins, its motivations and its implications for the country's future. The absence of such a cohesive narrative by the Nigerian government, its citizens and the communities affected is indicative of the need for a domestic solution to tackle this security challenge.
The recent abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from the remote community of Chibok in Nigeria's northeast focused the world's attention on the country's five-year battle with violent extremism. Within this period, the goals of Boko Haram have evolved - from leading a hermetic life away from a society they deemed corrupt and decadent, to a vengeful war against all symbols of modernity, democratic governance and Western education.
Upsurge in violence
Unfortunately, Nigerians haven't been as quick to come to terms with the upsurge in violence. The now-daily suicide bombings, mass murders, mysterious assassinations of political, traditional and religious leaders, mass abductions and other incidents of mindless violence are still hard to grasp.
In the first five months of 2014, over 5,000 lives were lost to such violence, according to the think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations. In the wake of the glaring inability of the government to contain this violent extremism, several competing narratives have emerged.
On the part of the Nigerian government, the narrative has been mostly incoherent and highly politicised. With the Chibok girls' abduction for instance, both the federal government and the states in the northeast - Boko Haram's stronghold - have been preoccupied with trading blame. Constitutionally, the responsibility for security lies with the central government.
Since May 2013, three of these northeastern states have been under a state of emergency, which gives greater powers to the central government over their security.
These states accuse the federal government of negligence, incompetence and corruption affecting the capacity of the military. In turn, the federal government blames the states for exaggerating the insecurity in their domains to embarrass it.
The key to understanding this lack of cohesion between the federal and the northeastern states lies in understanding the nature of the heated political environment.
The next round of general elections in 2015 may be the country's most contentious. President Goodluck Jonathan, it is widely believed, will run for a second term, against a groundswell of opposition under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Jonathan's emergence as presidential candidate in 2011 breached the ruling People's Democratic Party's (PDP) power-sharing rule in which presidential power alternated every eight years between the mostly Christian southern elites and their mostly Muslim northern counterparts. In the typical rhetoric of political brinkmanship that characterises electoral politics in Nigeria, a few aggrieved northern PDP politicians who felt short-changed of their turn at the presidency, threatened to make the country "ungovernable" for Jonathan, a southerner.
Where these empty threats should have ordinarily dissipated into thin air, they coincided with the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency. The Islamist group which emerged in the early 2000s became increasingly violent after confrontations with security agencies, as an International Crisis Group report documents. The extra-judicial murder of Muhammad Yusuf, the group's leader by the police in 2009, captured on camera, forced the remaining members into hiding. They reassembled a few years later, embarking on a viciously vengeful killing spree.
In 2011, Jonathan became president in regionally polarising elections, on the platform of a fractured ruling party, and with a simmering insurgency about to explode in its full wrath. The interaction of all these meant that as Boko Haram waged its campaign of violence, including its historic bombing of the UN building in Abuja, the president and his inner circle wrestled to consolidate their power in the PDP.
Consequently, a narrative slowly emerged from the president's mostly southern support base that the insurgency was being sponsored by "disgruntled northern politicians" to undermine his administration. This view has been articulated by known associates of the president such as Chief Edwin Clark and ex-militant Mujahid Dokubo Asari.
It is now a widely-shared belief by many southerners that the worsening insecurity is evidence of the northern elite making real their erstwhile threat, as opposed to the governance challenges bedeviling every aspect of Nigerian society. The northern elite are funding the insurgency, destroying their infrastructure and killing their own people just to make Jonathan look weak, it is said.
In the north where most of Boko Haram's attacks and victims have been concentrated, a widespread sense of fear, alienation and deep distrust pervades. This stems from the federal government's inability to contain Boko Haram despite the increase in defence spending to $5.8bn (or 20 percent of the budget) and militarisation of the northeast.
Rather, brutal human rights abuses by the security forces and allegations by combat soldiers of deliberate sabotage by their commanders reinforce the deep distrust in the federal government. The president's slow response and perceived indifference to attacks in the north has further alienated him from many northerners - he only publicly acknowledged the Chibok girls' abduction two weeks after.
Consequently, the predominant narrative among many northerners is that Jonathan's federal government at best has little interest in ending the insurgency in the north; and at worst, his associates may be indirectly fuelling it, to weaken the region and its elites' national political leverage. This is a view recently articulated by Murtala Nyako, the governor of Adamawa, one of the states under emergency rule. Coincidentally, the governors of all three northeastern states under the state of emergency are in the opposition party, the APC.
As the country's elites and citizens blame one another, Boko Haram appears more determined. As the country's social fabric unravels after each bomb blast, and the narratives become more disparate, Boko Haram remains consistent with its vision against Western education, modern governance structures and inter-religious harmony. The strong national cohesion needed among Nigeria's leaders and citizens to collectively tackle this terrorist threat is lacking due to contentious local politics. References to a civil war and a disintegration of the country are now constant features online, in print media and other fora of public discourse.
It is commendable that at this time of need, governments of the United States, United Kingdom and other global powers have pledged military support to help Nigeria to contain this terrorist threat. Yet it is up to Nigerians to decide whether to unite and tackle the insurgency, or continue blaming each other while the country gradually unravels at the seams.