ISIL, also known as ISIS or The Islamic State,
shocked the world when it swiftly occupied a huge
chunk of Iraq and Syria last year and swiftly
brought about a continuing series of airstrikes (
us-coalition-12-air-strikes-isis-syria ) by a US-
led international coalition.
Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgency movement in
Nigeria, achieved notoriety when it kidnapped more
than 200 girls from a school in Chibok, sparking
the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls ( http://
our-girls-nigeria ) . But since then, the group has
disappeared off the radar of most of the Western
world. This is a mistake, as there are all the signs
that Boko Haram could be the next ISIL.
The size of its territory is terrifying
Boko Haram controls around 20,000 square miles
now ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
Islamic-State-with-its-own-territory.html ) , an
area the size of Belgium, with its latest victory
coming at a small town on Lake Chad earlier this
That amounts to a territory stretching “from the
Mandara Mountains on the eastern border with
Cameroon to Lake Chad in the north and the
Yedseram river in the west” that includes 11
government provinces and 1.7 million people. At
least 850,000 people have been displaced by the
violence in the worst-hit three northeastern states,
according to the UN ( http://www.bloomberg.com/
bombed.html ) .
Andrew Pocock, the British High Commissioner to
Nigeria, told the Telegraph:
> There is a copy-cat element at work here. If
ISIL can declare a Caliphate, then so can we. Boko Haram want to
be seen by their peers as grown-up jihadis. They
want to show ‘we can control territory, we can
control a Caliphate’.
The Nigerian jihadists still have a ways to go
before they can make the sheer scale of ISIL’s
territory ( http://www.nytimes.com/
isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html ) .
The biggest city it controls, Mosul in Iraq, alone
has more than 2 million people.
Boko Haram is getting more brazen
ISIL shocked everyone with its medieval form of
strict Islam—with brutal beheadings of captured
hostages and even children ( http://
four-children-iraq-4767241 ) , as well as daily
atrocities such as whippings of forty lashes and
fines ( http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n24/patrick-
cockburn/if-only-they-would-leave ) (paywall) for
shopkeepers who stay open during the call to
Boko Haram is getting more extreme itself. This
week, the group used a 10-year-old girl as a
suicide bomber ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
old-girl-in-Nigeria-kills-at-least-10.html ) . “I
doubt much if she actually knew what was
strapped to her body,” one observer told AFP. The
group has been using young women and children
more and more.
Last week, the group committed its worst
massacre yet, killing as many as 2,000 people in
Baga. Most of the victims were reportedly children,
women and elderly people who “could not run fast
enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing
rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on
town residents,” The Guardian reported ( http://
haram-deadliest-massacre-baga-nigeria ) .
Civilians gave up on trying to count all the bodies.
Not enough people are paying attention
The massacre mentioned above barely made a
ripple in the international media:
> Boko Haram has just overrun a town in northern
Nigeria. 2,000 dead. Story doesn’t make it on BBC
front page. Because no whites died?
> — Tim Weber (@tim_weber) January 8, 2015 (
The schoolgirls were kidnapped eight months ago
and are still missing ( http://
counting–288073541.html ) .
No military action or
diplomatic maneuvering was enacted by the
international community—the same community
that in the that time launched airstrikes against
ISIL, brought sanctions on Russia over the
annexation of Crimea—has secured their
release. The leader of Boko Haram openly mocked
the campaign ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
Haram-a-campaign-in-vain.html ) . “Bring back
our girls?”Abubakar Shekau snorted. “Bring back
our army!” He has said the girls have been sold
ISIL sprung from the resistance to the US
occupation of Iraq, which morphed from Al-Qaeda
in Iraq to the proto-caliphate that operates today.
Airstrikes alone are not eliminating ISIL, which
remains quite deadly ( http://www.reuters.com/
and, more terrifyingly, an ever-more entrenched
part of daily life in the area it controls.
It has a
government, administers law and justice, and is
even launching its own currency ( http://
guide-to-creating-your-own-currency/ ) .
The longer Boko Haram is left to fester, by the
time it becomes a big enough threat to interest the
international community, the harder it will be to
Author : Kabir Chibber
URL : http://qz.com/324612/boko-haram-is-