By Ashrita Rau
Much of the world has focused its attention on Paris this past week, but the terrorist group Boko Haram is still continuing to wreak havoc in Nigeria. Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yousef, and it was initially a peaceful protest with extremist ideas. However, the death of Yousef in 2009 has led Boko Haram to resort to extreme means of violence, and they use that violence toward their goal of turning the presently religiously diverse Nigeria into an Islamic state. The group believes that modernization leads to corruption, and therefore wish, essentially, to establish a state in which they can turn back the clock. Boko Haram became especially infamous worldwide when they kidnapped over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last April, whom they planned to use as suicide bombers.
Many people around the world might know Boko Haram because of the “#Bringbackourgirls” campaign that was prevalent last April. Celebrities and political figures, including Michelle Obama, participated in the social media campaign in the hope that it would lead to the return of the kidnapped schoolgirls. The campaign brought the kidnapping to the attention of the corrupt government, who, for 19 days, either failed to realize or simply did not care that their citizens had been kidnapped. However, while the campaign pressured the Nigerian government to act, it did not end up helping in the end. Countries like France, Israel, and the USA sent military advisors to assist Nigeria in bringing back their girls, but were unable to enact any change because all aid would be swallowed up by the corrupt government. The advisors were also worried that if they worked with the Nigerian government, they could potentially be working with a government that was also committing human rights offenses.
Boko Haram’s attacks have been growing even more and more deadly. They are likely responsible for the two teenage suicide bombers who killed over 40 people last November, and currently, they are gaining notoriety because of their attacks on remote villages in Nigeria. The attacks, which started earlier this month, took place in a few days and are responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people. This makes these killings the most deadly attacks that Boko Haram has ever initiated, and the group is continuing to attack daily.
Nigeria’s corrupt government has also led to many of the children who have been orphaned because of Boko Haram’s killings to have to fend for themselves. The orphaned children have established themselves in camps, where the oldest children (normally around 16-18) cook and take care of the younger ones. The camps are not receiving aid from the government, and the children, who do not know what happened to their parents, are continuing to suffer.
Ever since Boko Haram has resorted to even more violent means, the number of people willing to join Boko Haram has decreased drastically. As journalist Alex Perry stated in an interview with NPR, the group itself has become a death cult. While this means that people who may have previously joined Boko Haram are staying away, it also has led to increased violence and terror throughout Nigeria, and because of Nigeria’s extremely corrupt government, it is difficult to see when the devastation will end.
Ashrita Rau is a freshman majoring in International Relations.