Who Are The Boko Haram Islamists?

While the media and public were fixated on the January terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters, a village in the northern Borno State of Nigeria was the site of a five-day bloodbath committed by the radical Islamist and terrorist organization Boko Haram. Some estimate that 2,000 people died, but the Nigerian government will not confirm any more than 150 deaths. The president, Goodluck Jonathan, is up for re-election in February and has done little to address the rising death toll as the group burns a swath of terror across northern Nigeria, killing countless civilians.

So, who are the Boko Haram Islamists? Where did they come from and how have they been able to commit their crimes under the media radar?

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Boko Haram Group

Boko Haram was established by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 in Maiduguri, a city in northern Nigeria. Nigeria is divided along religious lines, with majority Muslim populations in the North and Christians in the South. Source: The Guardian

Boko Haram Unit

The name of the group translates to “Western education is forbidden.” Given Nigeria’s colonial past (parts of northern Nigeria fell under British control in 1903, and Nigeria only became independent in 1960), anti-Western sentiments make some sense. Yusuf championed that ideology, and hoped to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. He decried the corruption of the Nigerian government, which gained him many followers. Source: Bella Naija

Boko Haram Map

The group remained relatively peaceful until 2009, when police seized Boko Haram headquarters and discovered bomb making supplies and weapons. Source: The Daily Mail

Boko Haram

Yusuf was suspiciously killed while in police custody and Boko Haram has been on the warpath to create an Islamic State ever since. Churches, police stations and prisons have been burned in retaliation. Source: SFC Gate

Boko Haram Abu Bakar

The organization’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, took power after the death of Yusuf. He shows up periodically in videos released by the group. Source: The Daily Mail

Boko Haram Baga Attack

Under his leadership, the terror group has been connected to nearly 4,700 deaths within the country. In 2013, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in northern Nigeria, and sent in troops to oust Boko Haram. Source: The Guardian

Boko Haram Car Fires

Their tactics haven’t worked. Citizens are afraid of both the terrorists and the military meant to protect them. Groups have banded together to form militias that carry out extrajudicial killings. Source: BBC

Net

Following multiple bombings in the capital city of Abuja in 2014, the Nigerian government spent $470 million on Chinese CCTVs to monitor its citizens, but the system doesn’t work. Source: Front Page Mag

Boko Haram Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan finally visited the northern state of Borno, the stronghold for Boko Haram, two weeks following the five-day massacre in Baga. He stated that the government is working to combat terrorism, but did not give any specifics. Source: The Guardian

Boko Haram Car Bomb

An estimated 27 Nigerians were slaughtered every day in terror-related attacks in 2014. Why are people not more worried? Source: The Daily Mail

Boko Haram Victims

Nigeria’s modern history is fraught with military dictatorships, so it’s no surprise that it has Africa’s largest standing army. Due to its status as Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria is also Africa’s largest economy (in terms of GDP). And yet, throwing money at the problem doesn’t seem to be helping. Source: Naijagists

Boko Haram Hospital

Aside from shoddy Chinese surveillance, the country has spent 20% of its overall budget on bomb detection units, communications and transport to the tune of $5.5 billion. Boko Haram still thrives. Source: The Nation Online

Boko Haram Church

Elections will take place in February 2015 and Goodluck Jonathan has a tough fight. Jonathan is an evangelical Christian, and his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim from the northern part of the country, and once led a military coup. Source: BBC

Boko Haram Children

Buhari has earned a solid reputation for fighting corruption, and given their vulnerability and fear, citizens may look to Buhari to save them from the horror of Boko Haram. Source: Trust

Boko Haram ATV

Source: This Is 50

Boko Haram Debris

The group has maintained steady attacks since 2011, bombing diverse targets including churches, markets and even mosques. Source: National Geographic

Boko Group

The group also brought suicide bombing to the country, employing the tactic in an attack on a police station and the UN headquarters in Abuja. Source: CBC

Potiskum

Once uncommon, suicide bombers were only used by Al-Shabaab in Somalia and very rarely by AQIM in Niger. Source: Al Jazeera

Boko Haram Hunters

Local hunters have taken up arms to defend their villages against Boko Haram. Source: International Business Times

Boko Haram Embassy

Between the rapes and murders committed by Boko Haram and the extrajudicial killings and denial of human rights by the government, Amnesty International has been critical of local security forces and Boko Haram. Source: National Geographic

Boko Haram Obama

Boko Haram opposes the education of girls and has enacted mass kidnappings. In April 2014, the group kidnapped approximately 276 girls from Chibok, Nigeria, which spurred an international outcry along with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, inspiring public figures like Michelle Obama to take a stand. Source: Wikipedia

Boko Haram Girls

While some managed to escape, at least 200 more remain missing, and could be held in camps outside of Nigeria. Shekau stated that he would sell the girls into slavery. Source: The Daily Mail

Boko Haram Mosque Attack

In November 2014, Boko Haram attacked the Kano Central Mosque in Kano, Nigeria, killing more than 100 worshippers. Source: The Daily Mail

Boko Haram Escapees

Boko Haram members kidnapped French tourists along the Cameroon border in 2013. They were later released along with 16 other hostages for the sum of $3.15 million. Source: The Guardian

Boko Haram Cameroon

French and Cameroonian negotiators brokered the deal but didn’t divulge who made the payment. Cameroonian soldiers, pictured here, keep patrol along the border with Nigeria. Source: BBC

Boko Haram Destroyed Truck

Boko Haram stays well funded with donations from sympathizers. Recent reports also link Boko Haram with the elephant poaching industry and drug-trafficking into Europe. Source: Breitbart

Boko Haram Jos Attack

Boko Haram announced the existence of an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria in August of 2014. Said Shekau, “We are an Islamic caliphate. We have nothing to do with Nigeria. We don’t believe in this name.” Source: The Telegraph

Boko Haram French Cement

In December, they raided villages along the Cameroonian border, seizing children to convert into child soldiers. Source: Arab News

Boko Haram Satellite

Prior to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram was laying waste to the village of Baga. The offensive lasted five days and as satellite photos show, there’s nothing left of the town. Source: The Guardian

Boko Haram Protest

Daily rallies by Bring Back Our Girls demonstrators continue in Abuja despite police attempts to shut them down. Meanwhile, Boko Haram keeps pushing its malevolent agenda. While analysts concede that Nigeria has a history of producing militant Islamist groups, none have been as tenacious, ambitious and long lasting as Boko Haram. Unless the Nigerian government takes measures to reduce northern Nigeria’s chronic poverty and develop an education system that local Muslims support, analysts think it’s unlikely that Boko Haram will disappear any time soon. Source: Foreign Affairs

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Elvis Fans, The “Beliebers” Of The 20th Century

Elvis Presley Concert 1957

And you thought One Direction and Justin Bieber fans were the scourge of the planet. As the United States turned a cold shoulder to the USSR in the middle of the 20th century, it–or at least its young men and women–clamored for the gyrations of the King of Rock n’ Roll’s hips. The raven-haired Tennesseean lit the States on fire with his crooning and unabashed sexuality, using his background with black Gospel music to really pave the way for the boisterous, frenetic and electric sounds that would define the 1960s and beyond. Featured above is a woman at a 1957 Presley concert, who we can only assume was having a good time.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Portrait

Founding Father? Yes. President? No. Source: Wikimedia

As one of the leading figures of American history, Benjamin Franklin is certainly one of the most interesting as well. He enjoyed a long life filled with countless achievements and colorful adventures. Franklin truly was a polymath, wearing many different hats throughout his life: politician, businessman, civic leader, inventor, author, printer, scientist etc. It’s no surprise that someone with such a distinguished career has so many fascinating stories to tell.

1. He had a knack for pranks. Franklin was never above causing a bit of mischief for his friends and family. When he was a teenager, Ben worked for his older brother’s newspaper, The New-England Courant. When his brother refused to publish one of Ben’s letters, Ben adopted a false identity – that of a widow named Silence Dogood – and started writing letters in her name. These, of course, got published and became pretty popular. Eventually, he put an end to the prank when Mrs. Dogood started receiving marriage proposals from readers.

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