Boko Haram: An Inspiring Model for Criminal Gangs and Beyond
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The outfit generally known as Boko Haram, that operates in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, is counted amongst the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world. In Nigeria alone, tens of thousands of people were killed since 2009, and the killings have caused the displacement of more than two million others.
According to data from the Institute for Economics and Peace, out of the 20 most fatal terrorist attacks committed in 2014, nine have been claimed by, or attributed to, Boko Haram, with an average of 14 deaths/terrorist attack. The organization uses a variety of tactics for their attacks, such as suicide attacks, firearms and bombings. But the trademark of Boko Haram is, without a doubt, the gruesome exploitation of abducted girls as suicide bombers.
The local and international push for the release of the Chibok girls had an unforeseen negative side-effect. There are reports that the government of Nigeria paid €3 million Euro for the release of the Chibok girls that, by then, had become famous around the world. That fame drove the price up. It should not come as a surprise that this sort of money encourages the very modus operandi that it seeks to remedy. High amounts of ransom prove the profitability of the methodology.
According to expert Bulama Bukarti, a senior analyst in the extremism policy unit of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, there have been eight mass kidnappings affecting six different states of Nigeria. From December 2020 to August 2021, more than 1,000 students and teachers were taken hostage. In August 2021, three different gangs were holding more than 300 students. By last year it had become big business.
The merging of the two worlds — organized crime and terrorism — is a phenomenon that happens all across Africa and the Middle East.