Chapter One: Who And What Are The Boko Haram, or An Introduction To Boko Haram

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Firstly, what is collectively grouped under the heading Boko Haram, is a combination of three separate groups which originated from the circle of students of the late Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf. Two of these groups in share the same name:  Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah Lid-Da’awati Wal-Jihad or Group Of The People Of The Sunnah For The Propagation (Evangelization) and The Striving, in English., However, despite the similarity in nomenclature, these two are separate organizations albeit with a common origination point in the remnants of the surviving students and followers of Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf (the founder of the Yusufiyya sect).

One is led by Sheikh Bukar Al-Barnawi a reclusive student of Sheikh Yusuf regarded as the true heir to the founder of the Yusufiyya sect (along with Rabiu Zubair who now serves as his deputy).

The other group is led by Abubakar Shekau (Abu Bakr Ash-Shaikawi in Arabic) a figure about whom very little is known even by people with access to his faction, who joined the Yusufiyya Movement few months before the outbreak of the 2009 Maiduguri Conflict and the subsequent death of Sheikh Yusuf.

The third violent arm of the Yusufiyya Movement is the shadowy group Ansorul-Muslimiina Fii Biladis-Sudan which renders in English as Helpers Of The Musims In The Lands Of The Sudan (The Sudan is a generic name used by ancient Muslim historians to refer to Muslim lands in the Saharan and Sahel areas stretching from the borders of Ethiopia with Sudan all the way to Senegal and Mauritania). It is led by Abu Usamah Al-Ansori supposedly the nom de guerre of Muhammad Haruna Bello, also a senior student of the late Sheikh Yusuf and a member of the his Shura Council.

According to sources with access to the highly secretie Ansorul-Muslimiin, a fourth Yusufiyya group is run by Khalid Al-Barnawi. This group named Harakatul-Muhajiriina Wal-Mujahidiin or Movement Of Those Who Have Migrated And Those Who Struggle, and it is an affiliate of Ansorul-Muslimiin but is completely independent of it.

Sheikh A.  Is a former Harakatul-Muhajiriin field commader and is from Sudan’s Darfur and a Taa’isha Baqqorah Arab. He lives now in Southern Libya. He fought with the Sheikh Bukar led faction before moving on with Abu Usamah Al-Ansori when he called for a defensive Jihad to protect the Muslims in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria from the atrocities Israeli-backed Christian Militias were visiting on them. He fought alongside Khalid Al-Barnawi for the Sudanese Jihad against the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the 90s, and like Khalid he also fought against the Sudanese government backed Janjawiid militias when they launched their ethnic cleansing campaign against non-Arab Muslim tribes in Darfur. He said that Harakatul-Muhajiriin is made up of mostly of Nigerian and non-Nigerian fighters from Chad, Sudan, Cameroun, South Sudan, Niger and Libya many of whom are ex-soldiesrs and policemen and many more of whom fought in the Sudanese Jihad against the SPLM/A in the 90s and early 2000s, in Darfur against the Janjawiid, and also in Libya during the 2011 Libyan Civil War on the side of Gaddafi. Although they fight under the banner of Ansorul-Muslimiin, Khalid Al-Barnawi and Harakatul-Muhajiriin do not take orders from Abu Usamah or Ansorul-Muslimiin.

Unlike the two Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah and Ansorul-Muslimiin, Harakatul-Muhajiriin sees itself as an integral part of the Global Al-Qaeda-led Jihad and is developing intensive links and ties of all kinds with Al-Qaeda In The Maghrib (AQIM according to the US) and Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This contrasts with Ansorul-Muslimiin’s development of ties with Harakatut-Tauhiidi Wal-Jihadi Fil-Afriqiyyatil-Maghribiyyah (Movement For Monotheistic Oneness And Jihad In West Africa, better known by the French acronym MUJAO), with both Ansorul-Muslimiin and MUJAO having localized views of their wars.

Secondly, the goals and objectives of these three main groups along with those of the Ansorul-Muslimiin affiliated Harakatul-Muhajiriin all vary. As a matter of fact the differences in aims and agendas has made it very difficult if not impossible for these groups to eve contemplate uniting and working together. However despite the differences in methodology and goals, these groups are not hostile towards each other, although there is animosity between the two Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah that dates back to when they split.

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