Who Are The Boko Haram Islamists?

Published January 24, 2015
Updated October 31, 2019

As the world reacted to the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, Boko Haram terrorists slaughtered thousands. Who are they?

While the media and public were fixated on the January terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris headquarters, a village in the northern Borno State of Nigeria was the site of a five-day bloodbath committed by the radical Islamist and terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Some estimate that 2,000 people died, but the Nigerian government will not confirm any more than 150 deaths. The president, Goodluck Jonathan, is up for re-election in February and has done little to address the rising death toll as the group burns a swath of terror across northern Nigeria, killing countless civilians.

So, who are the Boko Haram Islamists? Where did they come from and how have they been able to commit their crimes under the media radar?

Boko Haram Group
Boko Haram Unit
Boko Haram Map
Boko Haram
Who Are The Boko Haram Islamists?
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Below, a BBC reporter speaks with people who knew Boko Haram's current leader, Abubakar Shekau:

Al-Jazeera looks into the historical context of Boko Haram:

Susan Sims
When she's not fighting crime or cleaning the garbage disposal, you can find Susan writing about travel, science and things that go bump in the night.