Boko Haram Insurgency


In less than two decades, Boko Haram has transformed itself to a force that predominately operated in Northern Nigeria to a group that has terrorised, caused devastation and a humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, i.e. Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. In fact, Boko Haram, whose official name is Jama’atu Ahlus Sunna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, is considered the most dangerous terrorist group in the world based on the number of people who die as a result of their attacks. Like other Salafist-jihadist groups, Boko Haram, which is allied to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), aims to create an Islamic caliphate. Though allied to ISIS, the extremist group maintains ties with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  Boko Haram, who was officially founded in 2002 under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed Yusuf, has successfully captured, controlled, ad governed territory. Though by 2018, a report by Council on Foreign Relations indicates that Boko Haram’s territorial control had significantly reduced, now limited to small villages and pockets of countryside. The loss of territory is a result of military campaigns by Lake Chad Basin countries. The more the group loses territory, the group has relied on suicide bombings which pose a more significant threat to those living in the Lake Chad Basin. Mosques have increasingly become targets of Boko Haram suicide bombings. In addition to suicide bombings, Boko Haram has made a name for itself for kidnapping schoolgirls and women, who are then used as sex-slaves and/or married off to militants. The most notable instance that brought the world together to condemn the actions of Boko Haram was the kidnapping of the 267 schoolgirls from their dorms, commonly referred to as the Chibok girls. The incident brought the #bringbackourgirls social media campaign to bring awareness about the issue while piling pressure on the Nigerian government to act swiftly to bring back the young schoolgirls.  In addition to the loss of territory, Boko Haram has suffered through two major internal disputes which have led to two foremost leaders to splinter and create their respective groups. The causes of the breakaway stem from Shekau’s decision to target civilians at a high rate and the question of allegiance to Islamic State.

The Nigerian government, as well as the Multinational Joint Task Force (NJTF), have been fighting against the threat of Boko Haram primarily using the military. Their operations aim to destroy the military capability of the militant group while killing or arresting current members of the group. Additionally, their efforts aim to rescue kidnapped civilians, and forced child soldiers while ‘liberating’ villages and towns under the brutal control of Boko Haram. As a result, thousands of civilians have been rescued. The military efforts of Nigeria and other Lake Chad Basin countries have drawn criticism since the soldiers are accused of committing human rights abuses. The accusations range from raping women, sex-for-humanitarian aid exchange, execution and extrajudicial killings of suspected Boko Haram militants and targeting Boko Haram sympathisers. From a political standpoint, the Nigerian military has negotiated with Boko Haram directly to rescue some of the kidnapped Chibok girls. The United States has been supporting the fight against Boko Haram militarily and financially. The United Nations efforts in the Lake Chad Basin region has been assisting with the humanitarian aid activities since over 300,000 people in the region are in dire need of help. The increased attacks by Boko Haram increases the need for humanitarian aid in the area.  

The division with Boko Haram following pledging their allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has resulted in the creation of an equally potent jihadist group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). Tension over tactics and killing of Muslims during attacks caused the split between Boko Haram, under the leadership of the original leader Shakau, and ISWAP, under the guidance of Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi. ISIS immediately recognised al-Barnawi and ISWAP as their representative in West Africa. Thought ISWAP officially became a group, it was not until 2018 when their threat became evident. With the support of some locals in places they control, ISWAP’s influence has been steadily growing. The militants operate in the traditional insurgency parameters, targeting police and military posts.  Unlike with Boko Haram, rarely conduct attacks, which are throughout the Lake Chad Basin, target civilians.




Where: Lake Chad basin – Nigeria (home base), Chad, Cameroon, Niger

Members: Estimated at around 15,000

Deaths: Tens of thousands (at least 20,000 in 2014 alone)

Displaced peoples: 2.4 million (UNHRC estimates)

Refugees: 208,000

Kidnapped: At least 2,000

Key actors

Who are they: Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group in Nigeria’s northeast, with the military capability to attack countries in the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Chad and Niger). Boko Haram, whose official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad which means “People Committed to the Prorogation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad”, seeks to establish a caliphate. To create a caliphate, the militant group raids villages and forces them to be under their control.  Some of the factors that allowed for the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria include, 1) historically deep religious and ethnic cleavages, 2) political struggle between the South and the North, and 3) unequal distribution of wealth and corruption. In 2016, Boko Haram pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and rebranded themselves as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). Boko Haram controls four of the ten zones in Borno state, according to security analysts and anonymous federal official.

Target: Everyone is a target of Boko Haram attacks. They have targeted government and military posts, schools, churches, mosques, and other soft targets such as villages, public markets and transportation centres.  Their attacks predominantly use suicide bombings, kidnappings, armed assault and destruction of property 

Finances: According to Crisis Group, Boko Haram during the reign of the founder Sheikh Yusuf was receiving funds from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Currently, their funding comes from local extortion and protection money, possible bank robberies, kidnapping for ransom, and foreign donations. Boko Haram is accused of benefiting from illegal fishing along Lake Chad, where all fishing is outlawed. They have also set up roadblocks to collect tax from vehicles and persons walking through checkpoints.

Fighters: The troop strength of Boko Haram is placed between 4000 and 10000, though only 1500 are active fighters. The numbers have remained high because of the frequent abduction of young boys.

Structure: Operationally, the group is governed by the Emir, or leader, who is governed by a Shura or council of 30 people. The council then sends direction to local cells which have the freedom to operate as they wish, as long as they deliver based on the general directive from the Shura

Internal problems: Internal strife in Boko Haram has led to the creation of several splinter groups. In January 2012, Khalid al-Barnawi and his group Ansaru splintered from Boko Haram. It is reported that the splintering was a result of disagreement on the targeting of civilians, with Khalid Barwani advocating for western and high-profile targets. Khalid was arrested in April 2016 by Nigerian forces. 

Splintering to Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province: In March 2015, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged his allegiance to Al-Baghdadi and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Following the pledge, Boko Haram transformed to Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). By 2016, internal struggle between Boko Haram leader and another high-ranking leader, Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi caused a split. ISIS sided with al-Barawni, who is reported to be a son of the founder of Boko Haram, declaring him the leader of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in an official publication. Shekau rejected the appointment signalling the official split between Boko Haram and ISWAP. ISWAP actively operates in the Lake Chad Basin, raiding military barracks in Nigeria and Niger to get guns and ammunition to sustain their operations. They have also engaged in direct combat with US forces in Niger. The group has managed to get defectors from Ansaru and other jihadists formerly operating from Mali.

Abubakar Shekau is the current leader of Boko Haram. Not much information is known about his background – including his age and road to radicalisation. He was born in Shekau village in Yobe state, in Northern Nigeria. He became the leader of the militant group after the founder, Sheikh Yusuf, suspiciously died in police custody in 2009. Under Shekau’s leadership, Boko Haram transformed into the most dangerous terrorist group in the world as a result of their raids and suicide bombings which have killed tens of thousands. Additionally, he transformed the group into an insurgent movement with territory throughout the Lake Chad Basin region. Moreover, he connected the local jihadist movement to the global movement by declaring their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Also, since becoming the leader of Boko Haram, Shekau has not been seen publicly. Instead, still images, audio and video clips of him are published by the radical group online.

History: In March 2015, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged his allegiance to Al-Baghdadi and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Following the pledge, Boko Haram transformed to Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). By 2016, internal struggle between Boko Haram leader and another high-ranking leader, Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi caused a split. ISIS sided with al-Barawni, who is reported to be a son of the founder of Boko Haram Yusuf, declaring him the leader of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in an official publication. Shekau rejected the appointment signalling the official split between Boko Haram and ISWAP. Additionally,

Who are they? ISWAP, a splinter of Boko Haram, has been gaining power and influence in Lake Chad Basin region. like a traditional insurgency, they have filled the gap in governance and service delivery which translated to local support. Moreover, to retain support from the local population, they have not been conducting attacks that have led to the loss of lives in the Muslim community, unlike Boko Haram. ISWAP’s long-term ambitions are uncertain. Currently, the group is focused on consolidating and extending its networks rather than establishing undisputed territorial control.

Where they operate: Through they split in 2016, it was not until 2018 did ISWAP become a lethal force. ISWAP actively operates in the Lake Chad Basin, raiding military barracks in Nigeria and Niger to get guns and ammunition to sustain their operations. They have also engaged in direct combat with US forces in Niger.

Support: ISWAP’s greatest influence is on the banks and islands of Lake Chad, which provides some protection from aerial attacks. They enjoy support in parts of northern Borno countryside.

Target: ISWAP has been targeting military installations as a way to sustain its insurgency. Though they operate within the Lake Chad region, the Nigerian military has suffered the most.

Finances: ISWAP has several sources of income to sustain its insurgency in the Lake Chad region. It’s believed that money from ISIS has made its way to ISWAP through the Middle East. The stream of money from ISIS headquarter stopped as ISIS started to experience more pressure. The group also taxes those who live under their protection or pass through their checkpoint.

Fighters: ISWAP has about 3000 – 5000 fighters, according to Crisis Group. Some fighters that went to fight for ISIS are believed to have come back to fight for ISWAP. The group has managed to get defectors from Ansaru and other jihadists formerly operating from Mali.

Structure: The current leader of ISWAP is Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Barnawi who was appointed as the leader in March 2019. It is not clear why he appointed as the leader when the previous leader who had been power since ISWAP took shape in 2016,  Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, was not dead. Not much information is known about the new leader of ISWAP, Umar al-Barnawi.


Who are they: The Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) is a military force that was created in 1994 when insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin worsened due to armed banditry, arms trafficking and border intrusion along the Nigeria border with Chad. The initial mandate was to conduct a military operation in the region while facilitating the free movement of members states. The growing strength of Boko Haram led to the expansion of the Task Force’s mandate in April 2012 to include fighting against terrorism. The headquarters of the Taskforce is in Chad. The MTJF, which was approved by the African Union, currently has over 9000 troops under its umbrella. The national forces of troop-contributing countries tend to operate independently and under their own national command structures rather than with the consultative direction of the Nigerian Generals in charge of Task Force.

Countries part of MJTF: Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin

Nigeria: The Nigerian Government has dedicated resources to fight Boko Haram since the West African country is the most affected by the militant attacks. The first major offensive by the government began in 2013 following the declaration of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Through the operations, the Nigerian military, sometimes in coordination with the MJTF, have successfully rescued kidnapped people, as well as those boys and children forced to become fighters. Additionally, they have managed to recapture some of the towns and villagers under Boko Haram’s control. Though the case, the constant overselling of their success has not worked in their favour. For instance, they have on three separate occasions said that the leader of Boko Haram, Shekau, has been killed which is disproven when the militant group releases a video mocking the government. In another instance, the Nigerian government vowed to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015 and to find the remaining kidnapped Chibok girls. Both promises have not been kept. Also, in their quest to defeat Boko Haram, human rights groups have accused the Nigerian military of committing human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings. This has been seen in places where the government believes the villagers are sympathetic to Boko Haram. Ten years after fighting the Boko Haram threat, the soldiers are demoralised and on the defensive. In fact, there are reports that some soldiers have chosen to flee rather than fight against Boko Haram fighters. They complain that they have not been given leave in three years. Their weapons and vehicles are old. Military commanders have been accused of using old and ineffective strategies.  The Nigerian government has allocated nearly 80 million dollars each quarter to fight Boko Haram and ISWAP.

Chad: The increased attacks by Boko Haram on Chadian soil ensured that the government tightened their terrorism laws in 2015. As a result, Boko Haram militants who were found guilty were executed. Additionally, in 2015, the country has banned the wearing of burqas or full veils following a series of female suicide bombings. Niger and Cameroon also approved similar measures.

Cameroon: Due to the increase of Boko Haram suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks, the Cameroonian military responded with excessive force against suspected Boko Haram militants. According to human rights organisations, the Cameroonian army allegedly tortured and executed Boko Haram suspects without due process. In other instance, they forcibly returned more than 17,000 Nigerian refugees to Nigeria while in other they are accused of killing villagers who were suspected to be Boko Haram sympathisers. In other fronts, the Cameroonian military has formed and funded local militia groups to support with the community policing in Boko Haram affected areas.

The United Nations role in the fight against Boko Haram has primarily been supporting with the humanitarian crisis in Northeast Nigeria and the Boko-Haram affected areas in the Lake Chad Basin. The funding for the humanitarian crisis comes from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which provides lifesaving assistance to at least 250,000 people in Northeast Nigeria and 200,000 people in Chad. UN efforts in the region are usually coordinated through the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).  UNOWAS mandate is to “support, as appropriate, the states of the Lake Chad Basin region to address the impact of the threat of peace and security, including the political, socioeconomic and humanitarian situation in the subregion.”

Early on in Boko Haram’s history, a suicide bomber rammed through the security checkpoint and crashed his explosives-laden car into the reception of the UN compound in Abuja, killing 21 people instantly. This was one of the first attacks that demonstrated the strength of Boko Haram and their ability to attack secure places.

In 2015, then US president Barack Obama notified US Congress he intends to deploy 300 troops to Cameroon to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations as part of the counter Boko Haram effort. The support from the US has sometimes been halted due to the concerns of human rights abuses by the Nigerian military. After news broke about the kidnapping of the Chibok girls, the US, as well as France and the UK, pledged additional assistance, including equipment and intelligence support, to assist not only with finding the kidnapped girls but in general the fight against Boko Haram. By 2016, the US had provided over $400 million to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries.

Boko Haram Insurgency

Timeline of the crisis

The roots of Boko Haram are traced back to the early 2000s when the founder of the extremist group, Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf, formed Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad. Between 2000-2006, Sheikh was being advised by his mentor Ja’afar Muhmud Adam but had a public disagreement. Analysists and locals alike have long speculated that the assassination of Ja’afar in 2006 was under the orders of Yusuf. Sheikh Yusuf reign was short lived as he was killed while in police custody in 2009. The death of Yusuf brought the horrific reign of Abubakar Shekau, who is the current leader of Boko Haram, despite multiple claims from the Nigerian government about his death.

The first known attack by Boko Haram includes roughly 200 militants, who attack multiple police stations in the state of Yobe, near the Niger border.

The initial stages of the Boko Haram uprising involved the targeted killings of police officers in Bauchi state in Nigeria. The attacks spread to Borno, Kano and Yobe states in Nigeria.

Boko Haram members are allegedly killed during the operation. Additionally, the military destroyed structures associated with the insurgent group such as mosques. During the government response, the police arrest Boko Haram leader Shiekh Yusuf who then suspiciously dies in police custody. According to the police, Sheikh Yusuf shot while he tried to escape from police custody. When he was brought to the police station, he was visibly injured on the arm but otherwise looking healthy. Shortly afterwards, the police announced his death. Boko Haram maintains that he was an assassination by the police. 

The announcement from Boko Haram that Abubakar Shekau is the new leader came as a surprise since it was previously reported that he had died during the Boko Haram uprising

50 Boko Haram militants armed with machine guns breached the perimeters of jail in Bauchi, freeing 700 inmates. One hundred fifty released inmates are believed to be members of the organisation. In the process of freeing the prisoners, one soldier, one police officer and two residents were killed while six others are in critical condition.

Coordinated attacks using around 70 suspected Boko Haram militants kill eight people, including four police officers, in Damboa, Borno State, near the border with Chad. They targeted a police station, a police barrack and a bank

An explosives-laden car crashed through two security barriers and rammed into the reception before explaining in the UN compound in Abuja. The attack resulted in the deaths of 23 people and injuring another 60. This attack was significant since the UN compound is in the diplomatic area of the city, where other high profile potential targets like the US embassy are located.

Boko Haram militants, using VIEDs, IEDs and armed assault, targeted security forces and their offices, public markets and 11 charges. More than 100 people were killed.

In January 2012, Khalid al-Barnawi and his group Ansaru splintered from Boko Haram. It is reported that the splintering was a result of disagreement on the targeting of civilians, with Khalid Barwani advocating for western and high-profile targets. Khalid was arrested in April 2016 by Nigerian forces. 20 January 2012: a coordinated Boko Haram attack targeting the police and military, prison and others result in the deaths of 200 people in the city of Kano, Nigeria

Using three bombs, Boko Haram attacked churches in Kaduna, Wusasa and Sabon Gari killing 12 and wounding 80 others. As a result of the attack, locals began targeting Muslims in the area. Red Cross officials stated that they had recovered at least 20 bodies.

Militants claiming to have allegiance to Boko Haram kidnap a French family of seven at the National Park in Northern Cameroon. Boko Haram releases a video later demanding that the Nigerian and Cameroon governments release jailed members. The family was released less than two months later, unharmed.

The circumstances of what happened in Baga village are unclear since the residents of the village and the military have different accounts. Before the attack on the village, Boko Haram engaged government forces at a military post outside Baga, killing one soldier. The residents of the village say that the government forces, upon arrival, began setting their homes on fire.

Some of the residents drowned in Lake Chad while escaping from the military forces. By the end, known as the Baga massacre, more than 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured. More than 2000 homes and businesses were destroyed. According to the military’s account, only six civilians and 30 Boko Haram militants were killed, while only 30 thatched houses were burnt. They claim that Boko Haram’s weapons set the homes on fire. Base on a satellite image analysed by Human Rights Watch, at least 2275 buildings were damaged and another 125 severely damaged.

The confrontation between Boko Haram and the Lake Chad Basin multinational security leads to death of over 200 people, including civilians. Boko Haram quickly releases a video claiming that they are not responsible for the civilian deaths

Boko Haram gunmen attacked a government-run boarding school in Mamudo Village in Yobe state, Nigeria, killing 42 people. Most of the dead were students who either died from gunshots or from being burnt alive. Six students were found later hiding in the bushes.

Nigerian military announces they have rescued women and children hostages from Boko Haram in the Bulabulin Ngarnam area, one of their strongholds, in Maiduguri. In the process of saving the hostages, several militants were killed, according to the military.

According to an intelligence report, Boko Haram leader, Shekau, was shot on 30th June during a raid in Sambisa forest, one of their strongholds. The report claims that he died weeks later.

In a video message, a man who appears to Shekau claims the news about his death is false. He claims the person the government killed is an imposter

In another school massacre, Boko Haram gunmen target the College of Agriculture in Gujba, Yobe State, Nigeria. In a night-time raid, they targeted the male sleeping quarters. The majority of the dead students were Muslims.

A French priest, Father Georges Vandenbeusch, was kidnapped by 15 gunmen from his church in Nguetchewe, Cameroon. It is reported that he was able to alert the French embassy before he was abducted. He is released a month later.

In a predominantly Christian village, Boko Haram militants dressed in military gear raid a village in Konduga, Borno state. The day-long massacre resulted in the death of 121 people

The kidnapping of the adolescent girls caused worldwide outrage, and as a result, the #bringourgirls social media campaign began. Henceforth, the kidnapped girls are referred to as the Chibok girls.

On May 5, Boko Haram leader, Shekau, announces that he is planning to sell off the kidnapped girls

In a 12-hour attack, Boko Haram militants armed with AK-47s and RPGs raid Gamboru and Ngala towns in Borno state killing at least 300 people. By the time the militants left the town, the town was largely destroyed with most of the survivors fleeing to Cameroon.

Twin vehicle bombings at a crowded bus terminal and market in Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria claimes the lives of 118 people. The city of Jos is a predominantly Christian city that had seen very few attacks from Boko Haram

In a mission to support the international efforts, the US sends 80 troops to Chad to help with search efforts for the abducted Chibok girls. Most of the US personnel are Air Force crew member, maintenance specialists and security officers for unarmed Predator surveillance drones, not boots on the ground.

UNSC’s al-Qaida Sanctions Committee approved the decision to add Boko Haram into its list of individuals and entities subjected to the targeted financial sanctions and arms embargo list,

The Gwoza massacre happened when Boko Haram militants, dressed in military uniform, stormed a predominantly Christian village in Gwoza, killing at least 300 people. Some reports place the death toll between 400 and 500. Due to the tough terrain and poor cellular connection, it took several days for information about the attack to reach the provincial capital of Maiduguri.

Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnap 20 girls and women from Garkin Village. The new abduction site is mere 8 km from where the Chibok schoolgirls were taken

During those four days where the village of Kummabza was captured, Boko Haram abducts at least 60 women and girls and kill 30 men. 57 out of the 60 kidnapped women and girls escape 17 days later.

The Nigerian army claims that Shekau has been killed by Cameroonian military during a Boko Haram attempted capture of Kodunga, a village in Borno state, Nigeria. The Cameroonian military supports the claim by releasing a photo of the slain leader on social media. This is the third time that the Nigerian military has claimed that Shakau has been killed.

In a video message, Shakau mocks the allegations from the military that he has been killed.

Following a month-long negotiation process between the two parties, allegedly Boko Haram agreed to release the Chibok girls. The government spokesperson said that the kidnapped girls would not be released all at once, but a significant number would be released.

In a video message, Shemau says that the ceasefire agreement with the government had never been reached. Additionally, the video message announced that the Chibok girls had converted to Islam and married off. Moreover, the video stated that since the group does not know who the person the government is saying that it is negotiating for the release of the girl when they find him, they will kill him.

The government spokesperson immediately commented, stating that the video contradicts the sentiments of the video. He added that the government is doing everything to verify the claims in the video.

On 3rd January, Boko Haram militants captured the town of Baga and overrun the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) guarding the town. According to MNJTF, the militants attacked their headquarters in the town from all directions. During the battle between the two forces, thousands of villagers fled the area. As the battle for Baga continued, Boko Haram militants began targeting civilians directly. Within the five day raid, at least 100 people were murdered, hundreds more injured, as well as hundreds of homes, According to local and independent reports, at least 35,000 people have fled the region.

In an allegiance video, Boko Haram declares that they are now called the Islamic State of West Africa.

In the audio message, ISIS spokesperson says that the Islamic caliphate has extended to West Africa

Damasak had been freed by Boko Haram, who had been controlling town since November 2014, through a joint Nigerian-Chadian military operation. Upon a tour of the town to assess the level of destruction, the mass graves were found.

The military announced that the rescued women and girls are not the Chibok girls. The 234 rescued women join the 216 women and girls rescued earlier in the week. This new push is to save the 2000 women and girls abducted by Boko Haram, based on Amnesty International records.

Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Acting Chief of Army Staff, announced the launch of “Operation Lafiya Dole” as a way to tackle Boko Haram activities in Nigeria. The operation increased military presence in northeastern Nigeria.

Idriss Deby, the president of Chad, announced that the Boko Haram leader has been killed and replaced by another deputy. He claimed that the new leader, Mahamat Daoud, is open to peace talks. It is unclear how the Chadian president obtained the information. Previous to this, there were rumours that he was on the run or even fled Nigeria altogether as a result of increased military operations against the militant group.

Following the messages from the Chadian president regarding the death of Boko Haram, in an audio message, Shekua disproves the claims that he is dead and that he has been replaced.

 A Boko Haram attack on a crowded market and infirmary near a military camp in Kerawa, Cameroon results in the death of 30 people and another 145 injured

The military operation occurred in Jangurori and Bulatori villages in north-eastern Nigeria where the Boko Haram’s camps were destroyed entirely following the recovery of people and weapons. Out of the 43 arrested militants, one was a local leader, Bulama Modu, who the military claims is the Boko Haram Emir, or leader, of Bulakuri village.

Mohammed Mamman Nur, as well as Mustapha Chad, have been designated as terrorists by the US Treasury. Nur is a senior Boko Haram leader who helped organise the suicide bombing of the UN compound in Abuja. He is believed to have funded two unspecified suicide attacks in late April 2012. He allegedly operates in coordination with SDGT al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb. He was briefly detained but escaped from prison when members of Boko Haram stormed the prison. Mustapha Chad is Chadian national part of the advisory council of the militant group. He directed attacks in Yobe state in Northern Nigeria and spearheaded a 2013 offensive to take over Maiduguri, Nigeria but failed.

In a BBC interview, President of Nigeria, Mohammad Buhari states that Boko Haram cannot “conventionally attack” security forces or population centres. He added that the group mostly uses IED to wage their war. Also, he stated that Boko Haram has only a small force left, operating in the heartland of Borno state. The finished the interview by saying that “technically we have won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhood.” These comments from the president aimed to make the Nigerian army and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to look like they have been doing effective counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. This was not the case; Boko Haram, although still heavily relying on unconventional ways to battle the military, i.e. IEDs, is still a force to reckon with.

Two Boko Haram suicide bombers kill four people at a school in Northern Cameroon. One of the reasons why the school was targeted was due to the high number of Nigerian refugees. Three days before this incident, a Boko Haram suicide bomber blew themselves up at an outdoor market in Kerawa, northern Cameroon killing 32 and wounding 66. The attack was the worst Boko Haram attack in Cameroon.

The two female suicide bombers were between the ages of 17 and 20. The camp they attacked was sheltering Nigerian escaping from Boko Haram’s devastation. Reports claim that there was a third female suicide bomber who did not blow themselves up after she realised that her family was also at the camp. The third female would-be suicide bomber was arrested and confessed the plan, including that two other bombers were on their way to the camp.

A statement by the Cameroonian government says that the Multinational Joint Task Force operation leads to the deaths of 92 suspected Boko Haram militants in Village Kumshe near the Cameroonian border. The operation freed 850 villagers captured by Boko Haram. Two Cameroonians soldiers were killed and five others injured. The statement did not mention whether civilians were killed or wounded during the operations.

The video released by CNN is supposed to be the same video sent to the Nigerian military when they were negotiating with suspected Boko Haram militants. According to CNN, the parents of the kidnapped girls were not shown the video.

The arrest of the al-Barnawi significantly affected the operations of Ansari, though they are not entirely diminished.

Amina Ali Nkeki, one of the kidnapped Chibok girls, has been released. Although the Nigerian military claims that they rescued her, witnesses say that she wandered out of the Sambisa forest, along with her child and a man who claims to be her husband. The man is being investigated by

Sheikh Abu Musab al-Barnawi, a 25-year-old man, is the second son of the founder of Boko Haram, Sheikh Yusuf. This announcement comes after chatter about a three-month internal dispute which led to Sheikh Barnawi to leave the Sambisa forest. A week after leaving the camp with his supporters, Sheikh Barnawi introduces himself as the new leader in an interview with ISIS publication al-Naba. Two days after the interview, Sheakau released an audio message disputing the change of leadership claims, adding that the announcement was an attempted coup. Despite the claims by Sheikh Barnawi, the majority of Boko Haram are still loyal to long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. Many analysts claim that the announcement in the ISIS publication is an indication that ISIS recognises Sheikh al-Barnawi over Shekau.

In a video message, Boko Haram demanded the release of their fighters. In the video, the Chibok girls are seen seated behind a masked Boko Haram militant. The militant speaking informed the viewer that 40 out of the 267 kidnapped girls had been married off. He also claimed that airstrikes killed some of the Chibok girls by the Multinational Task Force.

Just two months after Boko Haram released a video showing the Chibok girls, the group released 21 girls following negotiations with the government. The Red Cross and Swiss Government officials broked the talks between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government. Nigerian Minister of Information said that the government did not release Boko Haram prisoners in exchange for the kidnapped girls.

One of the Chiblk girls, with her 10-month old son, is found outside Sambisa forest, one of Boko Haram’s strongholds. Out of the 267 kidnapped Chibok girls, 57 have either been released or have escaped.

Two months later, another Chibok girl and her six-month-old baby have been located after a military operation to capture Boko Haram militants

In an operation in Rann in Northeastern Nigeria, a Nigerian military plane accidentally bombs an IDP camp. The military denied to give official figures of the death toll, but Doctors Without Borders put the death toll at 90 people and another 120 wounded.

82 Chibok girls have been released following negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. The girls were taken to Banki town in northern Nigeria. As part of the negotiation process, some Boko Haram militants were released. It’s unclear the number of militants who were released. Like in previous negotiations, the Red Cross was the intermediary between the two parties. Boko Haram still captures more than 100 Chibok girls.

Boko Haram militants kidnap 111 girls from Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, Nigeria. The abducted girls were between the ages of 11 and 19. Hours before the kidnapping, the Nigerian military removed a military checkpoint and withdrew troops from Dapchi. The Governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Geidam, immediately blamed the Nigerian government for removing the soldiers, adding that the girls would not have been kidnapped if the troops remained in the town.

On 21st March, 104 Dapchi girls are released. It is still unclear how many girls were kidnapped at the incident and how many remain with Boko Haram.

In the same case, 562 suspects were also released due to lack of evidence. They were sent to their state government for “proper rehabilitation.”

Boko Haram attacked a displacement camp in Rann, Nigeria using rocket-propelled grenades and truck-mounted guns.  In the process of the raid, 3 Nigerian aid workers, are killed, and 3 International Committee of the Red Cross aid workers are kidnapped. Also, during the attack by Boko Haram, eight soldiers and police officers were killed. The kidnapped Red Cross aid workers were killed on 17 and 26 September and 16 October respectively

A UNICEF report claims that Boko Haram has abducted over 1000 children since 2013. The report says that the militants take the children as a means to spread fear and showcase their power. The news came on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok girls.

In a Multinational Joint Task Force operation in Borno state, the Nigerian military managed to save over 1000 Boko Haram captives, mostly women and children. Fifty suspected militants were also killed in the operation.

The report also says that the Nigerian soldiers are forcing these women and girls to exchange food for sex. The government commented on the report, stating that the military found cases of abuse in some of the camps and appropriate punishment will be dealt out to those found guilty. The government also claims that Amnesty International for recycling previously reported claims.

Reports claim that his lieutenants killed Nur following his decision to release 104 out of the 110 Dapchi abducted girls. The report claim that his lieutenants believe that his approach was apparently too soft.

Ali Gaga is reported to have been killed because he was plotting to escape, alongside 300 Boko Haram captive, and surrender to the Nigerian military.

According to UNHRC, 30,000 people have been forced to flee over one weekend due to the increased threat from Boko Haram. Many of them have fled into Cameroon and Chad. The escalation of attacks has also forced some aid organisations to pull out from some locations.

In an 18-minute audio recording, ISIS replaced ISWAP leader Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi with Abu Abdullah Ibn Umar al-Barnawi. The audiotape did not give reasons for the new change in leadership

An anti-Boko Haram militia and Nigerian government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force has released 900 children, including 106 girls, from its ranks, according to the UN. At a ceremony dedicated to the freeing of the children, the militia pledged its commitment to end and prevent the use of children soldiers.

Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed responsibility for the attack on the Niger army that killed 28 soldiers. ISWAP claimed that they killed 40 troops, but the Niger Army published the ambushed killed only 28 soldiers. The Niger troops were ambushed near Tango village in Tillarei region near the border with Mali.

Three suicide bombers, two girls and a boy, killed in a total of 30 people and injured 39 others in northeast Nigeria. The exact ages of the three suicide bombers are unknown. The boy suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside a cinema hall where football fans had gathered to watch a match in Konduga, Borno state. This attack alone killed at least 24 people. A few kilometres away from the cinema hall, the two girls blew themselves up and killed another six people and injured 17 others. Though no group claimed responsibility, similar attacks have been conducted by Boko Haram.

Military sources say six soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). ISWAP opened fire on a patrol vehicle killing all the soldiers on board. Following the ambush, militants attacked a military base near the ambush. The hour-long battle was repelled by soldiers with ISWAP fighters abandoning their weapons and one of the seven vehicles they attacked the base with.


two drivers, and three health workers – were kidnapped. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack immediately. Later on, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) released a video of one of the abducted females asking the hostages to release her and her colleagues.

On 25 September 2019, Action Against Hunger said one of the kidnapped was executed. The execution of the aid worker comes just days after the Nigerian government accused Action Against Hunger of aiding and abetting terrorists.

Suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked a funeral procession in Borno state in northern Nigeria, killing at least 65 people. The chairman of a local government says that he believes the attack as a retaliation for the killing of 11 Boko Haram fighters two weeks prior by residents of the village.


Two female suicide bombers kill three and wounded eight others in a suspected Boko Haram attack in Mafa town. According to the head of security for the State Emergency Management Agency in Borno State, Bello Donbatta, the two women entered the town among a group of local women who had gone to fetch water and firewood. They detonated their explosions in a crowd.

A suspected Boko Haram female suicide bomber detonated her vest in a compound of a traditional chieftain in Kaiga-Kindjira district, Lac Province, western Chad. The bomb killed a soldier, four guards and a civilian while another five people were injured. Though officials suspect it was a Boko Haram attack, the group has not claimed responsibility for the attack. The group rarely claim responsibility for attacks.

A suspected Boko Haram night raid on border district of Gueskerou, southeast Niger, resulted in the death of twelve villagers. Gueskerou district has been the scene of many suspected Boko Haram attacks and kidnappings.


Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters kill eleven workers working on fibre optic cables in Wajirko village, Borno state. According to residents, ISWAP had warned the workers from working their project but ignored them since they needed money to feed their families.


Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters opened fire on a military convoy in Borno state, killing eight soldiers instantly. The convoy was heading towards the capital of northeastern Nigeria, Maiduguri when the insurgents used RPGs and heavy guns to attack the forces.

This attack is part of intensified efforts by ISWAP on Nigerian military and police targets. On 17 August, ISWAP fighters killed four soldiers. Three days later, ISWAP fighters killed five soldiers. ISWAP efforts during these two weeks have not been localised to Nigeria but also in Niger. On 24 and 25 August, ISWAP fighters planted two IEDs in Niger killing one person.

Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters claimed responsibility for an ambush on Nigerian soldiers in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria. Like in previous ambushes, the militants used RPGs to ambush the soldiers. On this occasion, ISWAP attack killed seven soldiers.


A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims that the Nigerian army arrested thousands of children they suspected of involvement with Boko Haram. The report says that some of the arrested children were as young as five years. The children were crammed into overwhelmingly hot and crowded cells in Giwa Barracks, a notorious military facility in Maiduguri. HRW claims that more the 3 600 children, including 1 617 girls, were detained by Nigerian forces between 2013 and 2019. The report also claims that some of the children suffered abuse while in the hands of security forces.

The Nigerian government denies the allegations.

Cameroonian officials announced that they lost six soldiers and nine others were injured in an attack by suspected Boko Haram fighters. The militants attacked a military post at Soueram near Fotokol in Lake Chad area. Fotokol is a major crossing point to Nigeria.

Nigerian government accuses Action Against Hunger aid group for aiding and abetting’ Boko Haram militants. They claim that the aid organisation is supplying militants with food and drugs. The organisation has denied the accusations, adding that they assist vulnerable people. The government has asked the organisation to close its office in Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria.

The Nigerian army has begun “Operation Positive Identification.” The army issued a statement asking citizens to carry valid identification while moving through Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.


Mercy Corps issued a statement saying they are suspending its operations in northeastern Nigeria. This decision is related to the government decision to close their four offices in Maiduguri after the government claimed that they aid and abet Boko Haram.

Militants belonging to Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) attacked Nigerian and Chadian troops in Gajiram town in two separate attacks. A local official commented on the incident, saying “we lost eight people in the attacks, including a policeman, a local hunter and six residents.” The militants mounted an attack on pickup trucks with machine guns. The militants were all killed when soldiers launched an RGP towards the pickup.

  • Suspected Boko Haram militants killed one civilian and injured several others in a raid in northern Cameroon. Following the attack, the militants looted foodstuffs and motorcycles. The militants fled to a nearby village and also looted from the villagers.

Nigerian army confirmed the arrest of 10 wanted Boko Haram commanders in Borno State. The commanders were arrested as they attempted to flee from sustained operations in the state. Some of the arrested commanders are responsible for a devastating attack on Gwoza in 2014.


At least four Nigerian soldiers were killed, as well as one ISWAP militant, following clashes between the two sides in Borno state. The troops clashed with ISWAP militants after they tried to ambush them. Four army vehicles were destroyed in the clash.

In a pre-dawn raid on a military base in Niger’s Diffa region by suspected Boko Haram militants, 12 soldiers were killed. In a statement, the Ministry of Defense said some Boko Haram militants were killed in the attack but did not specify the number.


Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) ambushed Nigerian military envoy near Damboa, Borno State, killing ten and severely injuring nine others. The ambush happened as the troops were conducting a clearance operation in the area. Following an hour-long battle, the Nigerian military was forced to withdraw from their position. Before retreating, they destroyed one of their trucks and three Kalashnikov rifles. Thought ISWAP lost a vehicle, they managed to take a pickup truck from the Nigerian military, as well as six machine guns.

Borno State government has organised a rehabilitation program for 86 Boko Haram child soldiers. UNICEF sponsors the state rehabilitation program. The child soldiers are between the ages of 10 and 19. They will undergo a six months De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation, and Reintegrating program.


During a clearing mission in Mandara mountains of Gwoza council, Borno State, Nigerian military managed to rescue seven people who had been in captivity under Boko Haram. The village where they were rescued from was under Boko Haram control since August 16, 2014.

Eighteen civilians have been kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in Far North region of Cameroon, according to military officials. They were kidnapped as the militants stormed a village where they also looted foodstuffs. The Cameroonian military has begun a rescue mission to secure their release, according to local authorities.


Cameroonian military claims that over 250 militants, some of whom belonged to Boko Haram, have surrendered in 2019. All of them have undergone rehabilitation. In one of the rehabilitation centres, the former militants and anglophone separatists raise pigs and chickens.

According to the ex-militants, more militants are willing to surrender for reintegration but are fearful that the government will arrest them indefinitely instead of rehabilitating them.


According to Amnesty International, at least 275 people in Cameroon have been killed by Boko Haram. The majority killed were civilians – 225 people. In addition to killing, they are notorious for looting and burning homes and health centres following attacks. All these attacks come after Cameroonian president claimed on 9 January 2019 that Boko Haram has been “pushed outside Cameroonian borders.”

Some of the interviewed survivors of Boko Haram attacks say they feel abandoned by the government. One interviewed person said that the problem with the government’s strategy in countering Boko Haram is that the soldiers are in the town while the militants are in the bush. Therefore, it takes the soldiers a long time to respond to the attacks.

A spokesperson for the Nigerian Airforce, Ibikunle Daramola, stated that the air force conducted an operation in Borno state. While targeting a Boko Haram camp, at least 30 militants were killed. He added that the camp was a tactical headquarters in Parisa town. The operation also destroyed Boko Haram settlements in Garin Molama town, which is the fringes of Sambisa forest, one of their hideouts.

Nigerian government-allied militia, Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), released 461 children from its ranks. All the children were between 12 and 13 years. They were recruited to fight against Boko Haram between 2013 and 2017, according to UNICEF. So far, 1 727 out of 3,737 children have been removed from the CJTF ranks.

Boko Haram Insurgency
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