Geopolitical analysis of Boko Haram terrorism threat in West Africa

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Geopolitics, Center for African Studies, Tarbiat Modares University.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University.


Extended Abstract     
Boko Haram is one of the newest terrorist groups in the West African region. due its rapid expansion and the increase in its activities and violence, Boko Haram is the most important terrorist groups in the world after The defeat of ISIS in 2017.
Boko Haram's emphasis on violent activities has given to this terrorist group a special character. Boko Haram terrorism, which is more complex than African terrorism not only, have had a high level of violence, but also creating global threat and have ideas for state-building. The group's emphasis on the ideological struggle against the West is another reason that has distinguished this terrorist group in the history of terrorism in West Africa. In other words, while the previous waves of global terrorism in West Africa were largely based on Marxism or nationalism and in some cases anarchism, this is the first time in West Africa that Salafist groups have been able to organize a new wave of religious terrorism.
The present study, using the teachings of the theory of "international waves of terrorism" and assuming Boko Haram as a symbol of the fourth wave of international terrorism, raised the question of how Boko Haram's threat in West Africa could affect the region's geopolitics.
Boko Haram has close ties with Salafist groups at the domestic, regional and international levels, and in addition to cooperating with extremist Islamist groups in West Africa, which are affiliated with al-Qaeda, it is linked to ISIS and its allies on the African continent. Boko Haram also has links to Salafist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), Ansar al-Din (AAD), al-Shabab, Sudan's Ansar al-Islam (Jamāʿatu Anṣāril Muslimīna fī Bilādis Sūdān) and ISIS.
Generally, Trend analysis is the widespread practice of collecting information and attempting to spot a pattern. Case study in this article refers to the in depth analysis of some facts about “Boko Haram”.
By examining the "trend" of Boko Haram's development, the paper seeks to show the future impact of this trend on West African geopolitics.
 In addition, Data were collected by four methods: individual interviews, survey on formal reports and news study, documentation collection and study the related Books and journals in Chinese, English and Persian languages. Data analyses was based on describe-analysis.
Discussion and conclusion
At the beginning of its formation, Boko Haram emerged as a peace movement that operated peacefully, but gradually replaced its peaceful approach with armed jihad and violence, and became a full-fledged terrorist movement in West Africa.
Today, Boko Haram, like other groups in the Fourth Wave of International Terrorism and ISIS, has killed thousands so far in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. The group also set fire to some Christian villages in Nigeria, treating 276 abducted girls as slaves. Boko Haram has also declared an Islamic caliphate following the example of ISIS in Iraq and the Levant.
Like ISIS, Boko Haram believes that the Islamic State and Caliphate must spread throughout the world, and that non-Muslim killings are necessary to achieve this goal. This article shows The organizational structure of the Boko Haram hierarchy and pyramid is very similar to that of other religious terrorist groups. Since 2011, Boko Haram, like other terrorist groups linked to the fourth wave of international terrorism, has dramatically altered Nigeria's internal security scene by carrying out suicide attacks.
As the analysis of trends shows, Boko Haram does not restrict itself from operating on the borders of Nigeria, and the claim of creating a caliphate, has significantly affected the Muslim population of the West African region.  In addition, international aid from Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries has increased the group's power. This article shows that Boko Haram can no longer be considered a religious terrorist movement, but must be considered a multinational movement that has international supporters. By taking advantage of the experiences of some Muslim politicians in this country, Boko Haram has been able to continuously strengthen its structure and power.
Selecting different names from the beginning of the activity until today, and examining the "trend" of words from which Boko Haram was born, shows that the "words" of this terrorist group have always been aimed at expanding and becoming international. Boko Haram extremists have also been able to expand their ties with radical Salafist groups and use their support to play an influential role in the West African region. Comparing ISIL's actions in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria reveals that the two groups' methods of intimidation are very similar.
In other words, Boko Haram is following the same path as ISIL, with the exception that ISIL eventually defeated from West Asian regional order and the power of Iran, while none of Nigeria's neighboring states have the power to deal with Boko Haram.
Finally, this article shows that Boko Haram has made the West African region (especially Nigeria) the mainstay of its activities, attracting young Muslims from northern Nigeria and Africa to the core of the group. These new conditions could fill the political power gap in the region and ultimately lead to many geopolitical changes in West Africa.


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