Boko Haram has been attacking churches, Christian areas and government targets in the north and south of Nigeria, killing around 1,000 people since 2009.
They are known as Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language. They prefer to be called Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jiha, which means, People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.
Boko Haram is believed to have links with al-Qaida, and to be splintered into several factions. Its stated aim is the imposition of Shariah (Islamic law) in Nigeria. Here are some of their teachings, in their own words, taken from videos in circulation on the internet.
“I call on you to war against these infidels… This is what Allah is saying: “Won’t you kill?” If Allah said this, what then should I say? The contrary?... The verse said “Won’t you come and kill all those who did not keep their promise to serve Allah?”’… ‘Allah said “Kill them!” This is the understanding I have and no other…
“Do not give any excuses when you are given an order to do a thing. You must carry out that order even if it will cost you your life. Haven’t you seen the faithful devotees that will be sent in a car with bombs for suicide bombing, and they willingly carry out the errand, the bomb goes off with him, and yet he is happy? You should be like that… that is how a faithful should be.
“For me now I proclaim that Nigeria as a nation must be governed by Shariah, and it must come to pass.” – Mohammed Yusuf. Founded Boko Haram in Maiduguri in 2002. Died in police custody in 2009.
“Dear Muslim brothers, it is indeed a fact that we are the ones responsible for the act of war in the land called Plateau or Jos… The reason for this act is none other than that our creator has commanded us to war against any person that refuse to accept or acknowledge Islam after we have invited him to the faith.” – Boko Haram’s current leader, Muhammad Shekau.