Last summer, Boko Haram, a little-known Islamic insurgency based in Nigeria, waged its first attack against an international target: the U.N. headquarters in the capital city of Abuja. A Boko Haram spokesman later claimed the bombing was designed “prove a point to all those who doubt our capability.”
Nearly every day, government officials, security services and innocent civilians — Muslims and Christians alike — fall victim to the group’s violence. Boko Haram is particularly known for opening fire on churches and public gatherings where it can inflict the most violence and increase its profile.
While Boko Haram’s primary objective is the dismantling of the Nigerian government, the potential for its objectives and targets to expand should not be underestimated. Weeks before the attack on the United Nations, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, revealed that Boko Haram has close ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabab. When taking responsibility for the bombing, a Boko Haram spokesman announced that it was directed toward not only the Nigerian government but those who support it.