Boko Haram first formed in 2002 under the name Jama 'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda 'awati wal-Jihad and set its headquarters in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The Maiduguri people dubbed the organization “Boko Haram,” meaning “Western education is forbidden,” to characterize the group’s initial focus on denouncing Western influence in the region. Boko Haram’s charismatic founder and leader Mohammed Yusuf set up a religious complex in the city, which over time became a recruiting ground for jihadis. Over the next seven years, the Sunni organization began to militarize as its focus shifted towards creating an Islamic State. In 2009, Boko Haram supporters launched military attacks on police stations and government buildings in Maiduguri but were suppressed by the Nigerian Police Force, who eventually captured and executed Yusuf.
After retreating into the Sambisa forest, Boko Haram soon reemerged under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau. Shekau increased Boko Haram’s military capabilities, inciting mass attacks on Christian communities, government officials, police forces, schools, politicians, and other Muslim communities....
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...rations as part of a religious mission. This theory is problematic, however, because it over-generalizes the mindset of both sides and does not consider ulterior political and financial incentives, as well as recent negotiation efforts.
The Boko Haram insurgency has terrorized the West African region for more than six years, causing almost 30,000 total fatalities. In recent years, Boko Haram’s forces have been greatly weakened, thanks to a military coalition formed by the Nigerian, Cameroonian, Chadian, and Nigerien governments. Realists attribute Boko Haram’s territorial and religious expansion to ambition, while Constructivists see terrorism as a social construct. The Liberalist framework provides the most comprehensive understanding of the war, analyzing it as failed bargaining due to Boko Haram’s attempts at miscommunicating information and coercive bargaining.
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