Boko Haram: Terrorist Organization, Freedom Fighters or Religious Fanatics? An Analysis of Boko Haram Within Nigeria, an Australian Perspective and the Need for Counter Terrorism Responses that Involves Prescribing them as a Terrorist Organization.
SRI Security Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
The adoption of Sharia law and the creation of an Islamic government are prominent motivations for religious terrorism within the current climate. Throughout history, Nigeria has been exposed to ethno religious violence and political discontent and has recently seen an escalation in associated violence threatening its sovereignty, territorial integrity, peace and stability. This paper explores Boko Haram, a Nigerian Islamist sect, responsible for numerous attacks in northern and central Nigeria on infrastructure and people. The origins and ideological motivations of this group are examined and compared to the current wave of religious terrorism in relation to tactics, leadership and objectives. Parallels and relationships are drawn between Boko Haram and other proscribed terrorist organizations such as al-Qa’ida, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Somalian al Shabaab. This paper defines Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, as opposed to religious fanatics or freedom fighters, other common views about this group. This paper takes an Australian legislative approach to defining terrorism and terrorist organizations and examines Boko Haram against a contemporary terrorist organization proscribed by the Australian Government, AQIM, to substantiate claims that this organization demonstrates features common among terrorist organizations. Future prospects of this group, including potential expansion and listing them as a terrorist organization by the Australian government for national security, are presented.