Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Boko Haram and Sectarian Terrorism in Nigeria


Boko Haram and Sectarian  Terrorism in Nigeria

In 1997, while sectarian terrorism was at most intense point in Pakistan, my book on "73 sects in Islam" came out in the market. In that book, I have thoroughly discussed the history of all 73 Muslim sects in brief and the emergence of violent sectarianism in South Asia in detail. In 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2006, I wrote four more books on the issue and warned that violent extremism, social alienation and Talibanization in Pakistan can anytime develop into a bigger insurgent movement in near future. In my last book, I clarified the fact that an unending civil war would divide the country on ethnic and linguistic lines.

Sectarian violence in Pakistan, Afghanistan (The recent Kuchi invasion in Behsud), India, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Sudan and Nigeria opened a new chapter of TakfiriJihadism in modern Muslim history that justifies the killing of non-Muslims and members of other Muslim sects as well.

The yester years establishedTakfiri Jihadigroups with the financial assistance of the Arab world in South Asia now turned their arms on their Arab friends. From Al Shabab to Boko Haram and Houthies, members of all militant groups of the Arab and African region received training in the training camps of Afghan mujahedeen and Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Nigerian violence, though ethnic factor is dominant, but religious sectarianism emerged as the most potentially explosive social division. Violence introduced several social changes to the fragmented society and widened distances between Muslim and Christians in 1980.

In 1980, for the first time the Maitatsine sect started attacking opponents which resulted in eleven day emergency in Kano, Nigeria. The Kano riots were suppressed by army in which 4,000 people killed. In 1981, when Ameer of Kano was deposed, extremist sects started attacking government installations and public properties. In 1982, followers of Maitatsine sect attacked opponents in which 188 civilians and 18 police killed. In 1984, members of the proscribed sect attacked Yola. In 1985 and again in 1988, more innocent people were killed and thousands houses were set to fire.

AbimbolaAdesoji in his recent research article, (The Boko Haram Uprising and Islamic Revivalism in Nigeria-2010) has analyzed the crisis in Nigeria and understands that Maitatsine's attacks caused many crisis in the country: "The Maitatsine uprising in 1980 in Kano, 1982 in Kaduna ansBulumkutu, in 1984 in Yola and 1985 in Bauchi, obviously the first attempt at imposing a religious ideology on secular, independent Nigeria, marked the beginning of ferocious conflict and crisis in Nigeria."

Sectarian war between Muslim and Christian sects in Nigeria started in 1987 on schools and university levels while from 1990 to 2000, attacks on each other religious places stopped. In 2002, with the establishment of Boko Haram sect, sectarian violence again started dancing in the streets of Nigeria.

N.D Danjibo, in his research paper, (Islamic Fundamentalism and Sectarian Violence: The Maitatsine and Boko Haram Crisis in Northern Nigeria), has discussed the troubled journey of the sect in detail. In page six, he has introduced the leader of Boko Haram, Mr. Yusuf in these words:
"The leader of the Boko Haram Movement, Yusuf, was a secondary school drop-out who went to Chad and Niger republic to study the Quran. While in the two countries, he developed radical views that were abhorrent to Westernization and modernization.

Like the late Maitatsine, Yusuf got back to Nigeria and settled in Maiduguri and established a sectarian group in 2001 known as the Yusufiyya, named after him. The sect was able to attract more than 280,000 members across Northern Nigeria as well as in Chad and Niger republic. Yusuf began his radical and provocative preaching against other Islamic scholars such as Jafar Adam, Abba Aji and YahyaJingir and against established political institutions."

From 2010 to 2012, thousands innocent civilians were killed by sectarian armies of different sects while members of Boko Haram sect started the killings of Chritians in various places. Boko Haram is an anti Western and anti Christian Muslim religious sect. In Hausa language, Boko Haram is translated as Western education is Haram or sinful. In July 2009, Boko Haram killed more than 1000 people. This Islamic fundamentalist group is basically called JamaatulAhlussunna.

Boko Haram was formed by Muhammad Yusuf in the city of Maiduguri in 2002 and converted into a Salafisttakfiri Jihadist group in 2009. According to their religious philosophy, they abhor western education and working in civil service. The sect propagate the interaction with the Western world is Haram and opposes Christians. Boko Haram is trying to impose Sharia law in Northern Nigeria. After the killing of Muhammad Yusuf, Boko Haram carried out its first terror attack in Bomo in 2010 which resulted in the killing of four civilians. In 2012 AbubakarShekau took control of the group and under his leadership, group's terror cell killed more than 900 innocent people. Boko Haram is considered a terrorist sect in Nigeria and, according to CIA; the group is believed to be associated with Al Qaeda.

A radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, that kills innocent civilian trains it members in various African countries and receives military and financial support from Chad, Niger and Sudan. The group has close relations with Al Shabab and other Asian terrorist groups. Boko Haram bombed many Churches in the past two year. According to the Long War Journal recent report, just two months after targeting UN Office in Abuja, the sect launched series of attacks in Northern Nigeria's military headquarter and in Maiduguri. The campaign of beheading non-Muslims in the name of religion including attacks on Churches and suicide bombing was condemned worldwide. In 2012, Human Rights Watch reported more 255 people were killed in various terror attacks.

The United States has yet not decided whether the sect is to be designated as terrorist group or not but Politician in Nigeria demand European leaders to play their role in bring peace and stability to the country. According to intellectual circles in Nigeria, the perceived failure of the government to prevent the terror acts of BH is likely to lead to an increased in vigilant attacks by civilians. Finally, it must be born in mind that majority of Nigerian Muslim reject the anti-Western stance of Boko Haram and say greater interaction with the west is more important.

The writer is author of Policing in Multicultural Britain. He can be reached at: zai.musakhan222@gmail.com.

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