Australian Counter Terrorism Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


SRI Security Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


Originally published in the Proceedings of the 3rd Australian Counter Terrorism Conference, Novotel Langley Hotel, Perth, Western Australia, 3rd-5th December, 2012


Boko Haram (BH) is a Nigerian extremist group which emerged only in the last decade, but has rapidly established a reputation for violence. This paper reviews the development and behaviour of BH in recent years, concluding that the group’s activities meet the definition of terrorism as systematic use of fear-evoking violence against civilians to achieve political goals. This characterisation is justified in terms of four definitional elements of terrorism, and further supported by comparison of BH with contemporary terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf Group and Caucasus Emirate, which espouse an ostensibly similar ideology. BH should not be mistaken for a gang of criminals, freedom fighters or religious fanatics. The group is capable, driven, and should be understood as a modern terrorist organization.