The reemergence of the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram is cause for significant concern. Since late 2010, the organization has been responsible for a brutal campaign of attacks targeting public officials and institutions and, increasingly, ordinary men, women, and children, wreaking havoc across northern Nigeria. At least 550 people were killed in 115 separate attacks in 2011, a grisly toll that has been accelerating. Meanwhile, Boko Haram’s rhetoric and tactics indicate that the organization has expanded its reach well beyond its original base in northeastern Nigeria. Indeed, it may be evolving into a transnational threat with links to other terrorist groups and violent extremists in North, West, and East Africa.
The group thus constitutes a wider threat to the political, economic, and security interests in Africa. Given that Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil exporter (it holds the world’s 10th largest proven reserves) as well as the continent’s most populous country, instability there has significant global implications.