Even Al Qaeda Isn't A Fan Of Boko Haram, Which Pretty Much Speaks For Itself
If you didn't know a month ago, you certainly know what Boko Haram is now. Besides abducting more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the Islamic militant group has led an unrelenting wave of destruction in the country's remote northeast — and now, even Al Qaeda is speaking out against the group. If you're able to appall Al Qaeda with your actions...
After Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released a video Monday revealing his plans to sell the abducted girls, people took to social media to voice their outrage, including jihadists associated with Al Qaeda. According to The New York Times , one user posted on an Al Qaeda-affiliated web forum, "Such news is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen." And when news of the abduction broke, another wrote in shock, "There is news that they attacked a girls’ school!"
It started out as an affiliation of convenience, shared Islamic principles, and shared foes, but Al Qaeda's ties with Boko Haram seems to be loosening. The African militant group's brutal and casual style of mass murdering civilians goes against Al Qaeda's current strategy of avoiding such excess violence in hopes of gaining more supporters. It's possible that Al Qaeda could cut ties with Boko Haram the same way they disassociated themselves with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in February over similar differences.
"Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand," Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, told The New York Times. "So you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them."
Boko Haram started out as a spark that caught the attention of impoverished northern Nigerians, but has since escalated into an uncontrollable wild fire. Founded in 2002 by Muslim cleric Mohamed Yusuf, Boko Haram was initially formed by a group of well-educated students with the main objective of ending the tyranny of the Western-educated elite, and eradicating Western education in general. The group was able to gain supporters at first because it avoided killing innocent civilians even during violent opposition to the government, but that all changed in 2009 when the government executed Yusuf in front of a crowd after the group attacked a mosque.
That marked a turning point toward increased violence, and it also caught the attention of Al Qaeda leaders, who reached out to Boko Haram to lend support. Today, Boko Haram is led by Abubakar Shekau, who claims to communicate with God, and is bent on using violence to undermine the Nigerian state. And now even Al Qaeda is starting to distance itself from the mess.
On Thursday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan addressed Boko Haram's recent acts of violence at the World Economic Forum in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. "As a nation we are facing attack from terrorism," Jonathan said. "I believe that the [kidnapping] of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria."
The United States, Britain, France, and China have all offered their support in helping to find the kidnapped girls. And widespread support from political figures, celebrities, and activists continues to inspire around the globe. Several campaigns have formed around the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which has prompted tweets from influential figures including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Malala Yousafzai.
As the international community steps up to help rescue the Nigerian schoolgirls, the world is watching.