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Confronting the Terrorism of Boko Haram in Nigeria

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In this monograph counterterrorism expert James Forest assesses the threat Boko Haram poses to Nigeria and U.S. national security interests. As Dr. Forest notes, Boko Haram is largely a local phenomenon, though one with strategic implications, and must be understood and addressed within its local context and the long standing grievances that motivate terrorist activity. Dr. Forest deftly explores Nigerias ethnic fissures and the role of unequal distribution of power in fueling terrorism. Indeed, these conditions, combined with the ready availability of weapons, contribute to Nigeria s other security challenges including militancy in the Niger Delta and organized crime around the economic center of the country, Lagos. Born of colonial rule the modern state of Nigeria contains a multitude of ethno linguistic groups and tribes, religious traditions, and local histories. This complexity, spread out across diverse environments from the coastal southern lowlands to the dry and arid north, has long posed a daunting challenge to governance and stability. Nigeria has had 14 heads of state since independence in 1958 many of these have taken power by military coup, while only five, including the current president Goodluck Jonathan, have been elected. Approximately half of the population is Christian, the other half Muslim, adding a religious dimension to Nigeria s contested political life. Many groups feel economically and politically marginalized, a situation that increased following the discovery of significant oil reserves in the Niger Delta and offshore. Corruption is rife and state institutions are weak. It is within this larger context that a group calling themselves Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning Western education is forbidden, appeared in 2009 and has attacked Nigeria, a key U.S. ally.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Unconventional Warfare

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