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Should the United States Fear Boko Haram?

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
October 1, 2013
cnn.com

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Last weekend, suspected Islamic jihadists killed at least 40 students at a Northern Nigerian agricultural college, many while they slept. The Council on Foreign Relations Nigeria Security Tracker shows that jihadist-related attacks in Nigeria are increasing. Most of the victims in this violence are Muslim, but some are Christian.

While no group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's massacre, the Nigerian media assigns responsibility to Boko Haram, and the operation has the hallmarks of the group's previous massacres.

What is Boko Haram? It remains shrouded in mystery. Boko is the Hausa word for "book," and commonly refers to Western education. Haram is the Arabic word for "forbidden." Hostile to democracy, modern science, and Western education as non-Islamic, it is highly diffuse. For some adherents, religious, even apocalyptic, themes appear to be paramount.

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