While much of the world has been focused on the rise of the Islamic State, another proto-Islamic state has been waging a campaign of terror while dreaming of a caliphate in Nigeria. Since the public execution of Boko Haram’s founder in 2009 by Nigerian security forces, a hard-line militant, Abubakar Shekau, has led this makeshift army of Islamist fighters through years of escalating attacks on government personnel, religious leaders, young students, crowded mosques and marketplaces.
Nigeria’s president declares a state of emergency in the northeast, sending in more troops and granting them additional powers of arrest and the ability to seize “any building or structure.” Boko Haram responds with a wave of attacks, issuing an ultimatum to southern Nigerians living in the north. Hundreds of thousands flee. The United Nations calls the brutality and frequency of attacks on civilians “unprecedented.” According to data gathered from news reports by IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, Boko Haram killed about 2,000 people during the first six months of 2014, nearly as many as during the entire previous four years. The attacks include:
- In July 2013, dozens of teenage male students are killed in a raid on a school in Buni Yadi.
- In August, Boko Haram fighters attack a mosque in Konduga with automatic weapons, killing more than 40 people.
- In December, hundreds of militants attack an air force base and military checkpoint in Maiduguri.
- In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnaps more than 250 schoolgirls in Chibok, setting off an international outcry.
- In May, in a brutal attack on the border town of Gamboru Ngala, Boko Haram fires on a busy marketplace, burns down houses, and shoots people attempting to flee; hundreds are killed.