THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
January 2, 2012
New York Times

In Nigeria, Boko Haram Is Not the Problem

by Jean Herskovits

[T]he news media and American policy makers are chasing an elusive and ill-defined threat; there is no proof that a well-organized, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram even exists today. Evidence suggests instead that, while the original core of the group remains active, criminal gangs have adopted the name Boko Haram to claim responsibility for attacks when it suits them. . . .

Boko Haram began in 2002 as a peaceful Islamic splinter group. Then politicians began exploiting it for electoral purposes. But it was not until 2009 that Boko Haram turned to violence, especially after its leader, a young Muslim cleric named Mohammed Yusuf, was killed while in police custody. Video footage of Mr. Yusuf's interrogation soon went viral, but no one was tried and punished for the crime. Seeking revenge, Boko Haram targeted the police, the military and local politicians - all of them Muslims. . . .

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Jean Herskovits, a professor of history at the State University of New York, has written on Nigerian politics since 1970.

[Booklist: Griswold may be the first to explain how global warming intensifies religious conflict. For as she travels the climactically vulnerable region near 10 degrees latitude, she sees climate change exacerbating tensions dividing 700 million Muslims and 1.2 billion Christians. These tensions emerge in probing interviews with religious leaders - Christian and Muslim - aflame with spiritual passions now rare in the secular West. Yet Griswold also discovers how the West has helped incubate the region's interfaith hostility. It was, after all, Western colonizers whose arbitrary boundaries helped harden religious differences: in Sudan, for instance, the British established the tenth parallel as a partition between the Islamic north and the Christian south. More recently, it was the U.S.-led invasion of distant Afghanistan that triggered bloody clashes between Muslim and Christian mobs in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.--Eliza Griswold, "The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam," Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 17, 2010)

November 2, 2010

"Boko Haram Bombings Strike at Nigeria's Faultlines," Reuters (India), December 26, 2011

Jason Ditz, "Boko Haram: Heavy-Handed Policy Turns Loopy Sect Into Terrorist Powerhouse," antiwar.com, January 16, 2012

Ayo Okulaja, This Is Terrorism Not a Holy War Says Muslim Leader," allafrica.com, January 20, 2012

John Campbell, Did Nigeria massacre innocents and call them 'Boko Haram'?," csmonitor.com, March 24, 2014

[Boko Haram seems to have had an explicitly local agenda until the United States started meddling in Nigeria and Africa became Washington's new pet project in the "war on terror."--John Glaser, The Fear-Mongering and Hysteria Over Boko Haram," antiwar.com, May 9, 2014]

Alex Kane, How Washington Hawks Are Cynically Using Kidnapped Girls to Justify U.S. Military Intervention In Nigeria," alternet.org, May 12, 2014]

[A deal was almost reached to set some of the girls free in exchange for the release of 100 Boko Haram members being held in detention, our correspondent says.--Nigeria kidnapped girls: Government 'called off deal'," bbc.com, May 26, 2014]

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