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Published on Jul 26, 2014
Boko Haram, in one of its most recent heinous attacks, led an assault on a village in Borno State, killing 44 people and burning down three churches. They believe that Western education is a sin and they hold in contempt the education of young women and the presence in Nigeria of religious minorities – particularly the Christians.
Boko Haram is part of an axis of terrorism that spreads across the Sahel, beginning with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and including Al-Shabaab in Somalia, and stretches across the Middle East, where we see leading groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the Taliban. The UN must now begin to seek a dedicated international policy – uniting the European Union, the United States, Russia, India and China, all of whom have an interest in fighting global terrorism – and must look at this phenomenon in its entire global context, rather than pursuing the current piecemeal approach.
In countries like Nigeria, where 70% of the population is living on little more than a dollar an day, there is fertile ground for small groups of extremists exploiting individuals in desperate search of work, food and stability. With a weak state, boasting only inadequate security forces, and with corruption in Nigeria endemic, Boko Haram is flourishing. It is dangerously destabilising a fragile country and dividing the Muslim majority of the north from the Christian majority of the south. The response of the government so far is woefully inadequate.