This article will appear in the Bernice Banner, Bernice, Louisiana the week of 3/8/2015.

Over the past several years we have been watching groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS deploy its’ terrorism across the Mid-East and has now extended tentacles into Europe. Revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East have been a subject of discussion for several years. While these front-page stories filled the media air waves another terrorist organization has struck terror in darkest Africa. Boko Haram has been able to practice Islamic Terrorism while the world viewed this group as a regional issue and paid little attention. Last week this scenario changed.
Boko Haram is officially named Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad but is doubtful if this name will be used in the Western press. Boko Haram is much more palatable.
This terrorist group operates in Northern Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the more modern countries in sub-Saharan Africa and when viewed in relation to the rest of the world its position is quite surprising. This position in the world makes the emergence of Boko Haram even more compelling to world peace.
Nigeria was carved out of Africa during the British colonizing period. Northern Nigeria is predominately Islamic while Southern Nigeria is largely Christian. Britain stayed in charge of Nigeria until 1960 when independence was granted. Two years after independence Nigeria had a civil war that was indicative of other countries that had won freedom from their colonial rulers from Europe. Britain had built schools throughout the nation that were based on an English education. This is one of the issues that Boko Haram uses as an excuse for its’ reign of terror in Northern Nigeria. The name Boko Haram is translated to be “Western Education is Forbidden”.
Nigeria’s economy is quite large and is not single threaded like the oil countries of the Middle East. America’s top trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa is Nigeria and the United States is the country’s largest foreign investor. Twenty percent of Nigeria’s exported oil goes to the United States and this represents eleven percent of America’s oil imports. Nigeria is a major trading partner of the United States and with a Gross Domestic Product of 30th in the world Nigeria demands respect in the economic community. Nigeria is a perfect country to become a target for Islamic terrorism. They will tear a country apart while hurting another country they would like to see suffer most, America.
There are varied reports of the size of Boko Haram. Some say it is as small as a few hundred while others put the army as large as ten thousand. This disparity shows how little is known of this organization. What is known is its disregard for human life. Much like ISIS, Boko Haram uses terror tactics to subjugate the residents of Northern Nigeria. The terrorist group was founded in 2002 but the explosion of terrorist activities began in 2009. Like ISIS the growth was meteoric but we were not truly introduced to the group until April of 2014 when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 school girls. Fifty of the girls escaped but the remainder are believed to have been sold into slavery. Kidnapping is not the only terrorist act that is being conducted. Last summer the death toll was given at 5,000 and has been steadily climbing at a greater rate. Today over one and a half million civilians have fled the area while Boka Haram has expanded it terrorist attacks to neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. They are becoming more powerful by the day and like ISIS the West is not affective at controlling it. Even when the United States offered a seven million dollar reward for info leading to the return of the school girls that attempt proved ineffective.
Last week the very worst possible scenario came to fruition. Boka Haram swore allegiance to ISIS. Two of the most dreaded and diabolical terrorist organizations in the world, located almost two thousand miles apart are merging. This will now give Boka Haram a new financial conduit that will allow it to obtain more sophisticated weapons to expand its terrorism.

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