What gives Boko Haram its strength

Guest post by David Jacobson

David Jacobson, author of Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict co-authored a CNN online commentary about the recent abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian girls. This excerpt is published with permission. Read the full commentary.

The Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram has been active as a violent group since 2009 and in recent months has killed Nigerians, both Christian and Muslim, at rates frequently exceeding a hundred people weekly.

It is puzzling how little attention this has received in world media, especially in comparison to, say, the attack of Islamist militants on the mall in Kenya in September, resulting in 67 dead.

That is, until now. The abduction of a reported 276 schoolgirls from Chibok village in the northeastern Borno state has shocked people around the world. A deeper examination of Boko Haram provides a revealing prism of the conflict in Nigeria.

Boko Haram translates as “Western education is sin.” Rarely has the name of a terrorist organization revealed so much, but it does in ways beyond the surface interpretations sometimes portrayed in the media.

Read the full commentary.

 David Jacobson is a professor of sociology at the University of South Florida and the founding director of the Citizenship Initiative. He is author of Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global ConflictRights across Borders: Immigration and the Decline of Citizenship and Place and Belonging in America, all published by Johns Hopkins.