2014 - Present: Boko Haram Insurgency

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In Nigeria and its neighboring countries, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out a brutal campaign of violence aimed at establishing an Islamic state. The kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014 brought international attention to the conflict, which has since spread into neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and Niger...

The Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009 and is primarily located in northeastern Nigeria, with spillovers into neighboring countries Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates to "Western education is forbidden" in Hausa, is a jihadist militant organization founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002. The group officially refers to itself as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad).

Boko Haram was initially focused on opposing Western education, which it saw as corrupting Muslims. However, the group's activities escalated from passive resistance to active militancy following a crackdown by Nigerian security forces in 2009. This crackdown resulted in the death of Mohammed Yusuf while in police custody, and the group's mosque and headquarters were destroyed. Yusuf's death led to the radicalization of Boko Haram under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, who escalated the violence and turned the group into a full-fledged insurgent organization.

Under Shekau, Boko Haram launched military operations and began a violent campaign against the government, security forces, and civilian targets. The group is responsible for numerous bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings throughout the region. One of their most notorious acts was the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, which drew international condemnation and brought global attention to the insurgency.

Boko Haram's activities have caused immense suffering in the region, resulting in thousands of deaths and displacements, contributing to a significant humanitarian crisis. Their attacks have been varied, including suicide bombings, armed assaults on villages, attacks on schools, and abductions.

The Nigerian government has struggled to effectively combat Boko Haram, despite assistance from neighboring countries and international support. Military efforts have sometimes managed to reclaim territory and disperse fighters but have been criticized for human rights abuses and failing to protect civilians.

The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which includes troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, has been formed to fight Boko Haram across borders. The United States and other international actors have also provided military aid to Nigeria and its neighbors in the form of training, equipment, and intelligence support.

In 2016, Boko Haram experienced a factional split. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which broke away from Boko Haram, was recognized by ISIS as its West African branch. ISWAP has focused more on military targets and has managed to gain some support from local populations by presenting itself as less brutal than Shekau's faction.

The insurgency has ebbed and flowed over the years, with both Boko Haram and ISWAP remaining persistent threats to the region's stability. As of the latest updates before my last training data in January 2022, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, reportedly died during clashes with ISWAP, potentially marking a significant shift in the insurgency's dynamics.