Boko Haram One Among Many Terrorist Organizations

Boko Haram

The official name of Boko Haram is Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad. They are an extremist group located in Nigeria. They are waging war to protect Islamic interests, which for them means a stated which is run by Sharia Law. Boko Haram is only one of many known terrorist organizations worldwide.

According to an article put out by the BBC in May of this year, there are 11 main groups calling themselves Jihadist and labeled as terrorists by Western nations.

These groups are located in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Egypt. Some groups span multiple nations, like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Palestine. Some nations, like Libya, host more than one group.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is an extremist group based in Yemen which follows the Sunni tradition. This group is responsible for the first attempted attack on the United States by Al-Qaeda since the 9/11 attacks. Occurring on Dec. 25, 2009, an attempt to explode a device on a Northwest Airlines flights was stopped. They made another attempt in Oct. 2010 that was thwarted. The group formed when they banded with the former AQY organization under the command of multiple veteran extremist leaders.

ISIL, or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is another Sunni jihadist organization. Their mission is to create a transnational Islamic state spanning from Southern Turkey to Israel and the Palestinian territories and to include Syria and Lebanon. The group came out of what was left of Saddam Hussein’s AQI insurgency. Their violence diminished during 2006-2007 but since late 2011 when U.S. troops withdrew from the area, their attacks have resumed.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a group with ties to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) from the 1990s in Algeria. It is a militant group in the Sahara and Sahel of the Salafi-jihadist tradition. Their ambition lies in reclaiming the region they reside in, and according to U.S. officials they do not pose a threat to the U.S. or any other Western nation outside their region.

Located in Somalia is the group known as al-Shabab. In Arabic, it means The Youth. It claims allegiance with al-Qaeda and had been labeled a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom and the United States. Attacks on the U.S. embassy in 1998 and 2002 are attributed to them. Kidnappings similar to what Boko Haram did this past year were orchestrated by al-Shabab in Kenya in 2011 showing how the many terrorist organizations may not always work together but amongst these groups they choose from the same playbook to wreak havoc on people.

The Taliban started with seemingly good intentions, as their stated intention was to resist the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. They are mainly Pashtun, which is an Islamic fundamentalist group and they ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001. They were invaded by the U.S. for allowing Osama bin Laden refuge and they have since moved over the border into Pakistan.

Ansar al-Sharia is found in Libya and Tunisia, and is considered more of a label for a group of people rather than an organized group. They were linked to the Benghazi incident in 2012. Their main aim is to overthrow any government which is not Islamic. This means that democracy does not fit into their view of the Quran.

Jemaah Islamiah formed in the 1990s with the intent of promoting an Islamic state which was to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indodenesia, Brunei and the southern part of the Philippines. They were not discovered until 2001 when the Singaporean government uncovered a plot to attack a U.S. Naval target. They have ties to the group Abu Sayyaf who is also based in the south of the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf formed in the 1990s looking to create a separate state for the Muslim population in the Philippines.

Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis were officially declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department on April 9, 2014. Following uprisings in Egypt in 2011 the group formed. They are responsible for attacks on tourists in Egypt and attacks on security services in Israel. They share some of the same ideology as al-Qaeda but they are not affiliated with them.

Each of these groups has terrorized at least one group of people on more than one occasion for not following their belief system. Boko Haram is currently at the forefront of these organizations because of the much-publicized schoolgirl  kidnapping. This puts Boko Haram as one among many organizations in the world created to instill fear and terror in others.

By Sara Kourtsounis

United States Institute of Peace
The National Counterterrosism Center
PBS News
Council on Foreign Relations
U.S. Department of State

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