On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State. Soon after the kidnapping, reports surfaced that Boko Haram may have transferred many of the girls from Nigeria to Cameroon, Chad and as far as Central African Republic’s Birao region near Sudan.[1] In a video released on May 5, 2014, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau announced he would “sell” the schoolgirls as “slaves in the market,” and on May 12 proposed that “if you want us to release your girls that we kidnapped, you must release our brethren that are held in Borno, Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Enugu and Lagos states, as well as Abuja.”[2]

Despite an outcry from the international community, social media and civil society, this operation was consistent with Boko Haram’s previous militant activities in the Nigeria-Cameroon-Chad-Niger border region and its founder Muhammad Yusuf’s non-recognition of colonial-era political boundaries that “cut off Niger and Chad and amalgamated [Borno] with infidels.”[3] As Shekau, who is Yusuf’s former deputy, said in his May 5 statement, “we don’t know Cameroon or Chad…I don’t have a country. Islamiyya is what I have.”[4]

This article analyzes Boko Haram’s area of operations along the Borno-Cameroon border with a focus on kidnappings, as they have become Boko Haram’s primary method of self-sustainable funding and are a tactic first introduced in northern Nigeria by Nigerian al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) militants who formed the faction Ansaru[5] in 2012.[6] The article reviews Boko Haram’s militant networks in Nigeria and abroad from 2003 to 2012, traces Boko Haram’s retreat to southern Borno and northern Cameroon after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in 2013, and discusses how several factions may have come together to carry out the kidnapping in Chibok in April 2014. Finally, the article suggests that “Shekau” may have become a nom de guerre representing all Boko Haram leaders, including the real Shekau, in a confederation. This confederation pools resources together from all factions for major attacks, such as the one in Chibok, but disagrees over two main issues: terms for a cease-fire with the Nigerian government and the killing of Muslim civilians.[7]

Boko Haram’s Area of Operations
The first confrontations between Boko Haram (then called the “Nigerian Taliban”) and Nigerian security forces took place in 2003 at Boko Haram’s “Afghanistan” compound located two miles from Niger and less than 100 miles from Yusuf’s and Shekau’s hometowns in Yobe, and in 2004 near Gwoza in the Mandara Mountains along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.[8] After suffering losses, the Nigerian Taliban focused on preaching Salafist ideology based on the “pure teachings” of the Taliban and Usama bin Ladin and providing community services.[9] Yusuf and other leaders, however, also dispatched members to the Sahel, Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan to receive funds to build madrasas and mosques and acquire militant training and advice from al-Qa`ida, especially after Bin Ladin declared Nigeria “ready for liberation” in 2003.[10]

When security forces killed Boko Haram founder Yusuf and 800 followers in July 2009, more than 100 Boko Haram members fled to the border region, the Sahel, and Somalia, while Shekau, according to one member, “hid in the desert between Chad and Sudan.”[11] These members were aided by their pre-existing connections to al-Qa`ida and its affiliates, and Boko Haram’s regional network of sub-leaders.[12] In July 2010, after AQIM’s leader promised “men, weapons, and ammunition” for the “mujahidin in Nigeria,” Shekau gave an interview to a blindfolded journalist in a hideout near Maiduguri, Borno State, saying that he “assumed leadership” of Boko Haram[13] and declared to America that “jihad has begun.”[14]

From 2010 to 2012, Shekau led Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, while militants who trained with and received funding from AQIM and al-Shabab returned to Nigeria and established cells in northwestern Nigerian states under the leadership of longtime Nigerian AQIM militant Khalid al-Barnawi.[15] These northwestern cells, in contrast to Shekau’s faction in Borno, specialized in sophisticated bombings that bore the “hallmark of al-Qa`ida.”[16] Boko Haram claimed all attacks until March 2012, when al-Barnawi led a cell that kidnapped and killed an Italian and a British engineer in Sokoto and claimed it under “al-Qa`ida in the Lands Beyond the Sahel.” In January 2012, al-Barnawi had formed a new militant group called Ansaru, which attacked Nigerian soldiers and prisons in Abuja and Kogi and carried out three kidnappings in Nigeria.[17] Due to a dispute over funding from AQIM, ideology and Shekau’s “ruthless” leadership style, Shekau’s faction reportedly leaked information about some “traitorous” Ansaru cells to the Nigerian security forces, which contributed to Ansaru’s gradual demise and necessitated al-Barnawi to reconcile with Shekau in late 2012.[18]

Retreat to Gwoza
After the elimination of Ansaru as a competitor, Shekau appointed new leaders to replace Ansaru’s commanders, including ones close to al-Barnawi.[19] After the deaths or arrests of these commanders as well as Shekau’s own commanders in Yobe and Adamawa, however, Boko Haram became primarily a Borno-based movement, with 75% of its attacks in Borno during the first three months of 2013 (compared to 35% in 2012).[20] Only Kano remained under the influence of Mamman Nur (likely using the pseudonym “Muhammed Marwan”),[21] who accepted a second-in-command role to Shekau. Nur’s faction attacked “un-Islamic” places such as beer halls, international targets like the UN Headquarters, organized a plot on the U.S. ambassador in Abuja, and bombed motor parks in Kano and Abuja to send “messages” to the Nigerian government and traditional Muslim leaders to release Boko Haram prisoners and to offer compensation for victims of the July 2009 clashes.[22]

The French-led military intervention in northern Mali in January 2013 may have indirectly revitalized Boko Haram.[23] From March to May 2013, former Ansaru, Boko Haram and other militants who fought with or learned from militants in Mali launched attacks along northeastern Borno’s border with Niger and Cameroon. They attacked a military barracks in Monguno, a prison in Bama and destroyed three towns: Baga, Marte, and Maiha.[24] For the first time in Nigeria, militants mounted weapons on 4×4 vehicles, kidnapped government officials and their relatives to exchange for ransoms of $10,000 to $300,000, and supported a more ethnically and religiously inclusive ideology like Ansaru’s and AQIM’s—but unlike Shekau’s—that called on “Muslim youths” to fight not “in the name of any sect, clan, or country,” but for Islam.[25]

In response to these attacks, President Jonathan ordered a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on May 14, 2013, which coincided with the creation of the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) to track down Boko Haram militants.[26] Boko Haram’s foot soldiers abandoned Maiduguri and retreated from the deserts and swamplands of northeastern Borno and Lake Chad to mountainous rural areas near Gwoza in southern Borno, which is 15 miles from Chibok, where the 250 schoolgirls would later be kidnapped. Gwoza is also where “university-educated Nigerian Taliban” members carried out abductions of Christian women in 2004 until they were expelled by Nigerian troops and “vigilantes,” the latter of which were a predecessor to the civilian JTF.[27]

Context of the Chibok Kidnapping
In 2013 and early 2014, Boko Haram’s newly formed “special kidnapping squad,” which may be part of al-Barnawi’s faction, kidnapped several foreigners in northern Cameroon and brought them to Borno, while Nur’s faction utilized Nur’s “guerrilla expertise” in the border region and contacts with Kanuri tribal elders in Cameroon to facilitate hostage negotiations.[28] The total ransom money received and prisoners exchanged as a result of these kidnappings in Cameroon as well as the kidnappings of 12 women in Bama in May 2013—who were exchanged for the release of 90 Boko Haram members, their wives and children, and possibly ransom money—likely incentivized Boko Haram to carry out more kidnappings, such as the one in Chibok, to pressure the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments to cede to Boko Haram’s demands for the exchange of more ransom money and prisoners.[29]

To protect its operational space in northern Cameroon, Boko Haram issued a series of warnings to Cameroon in fliers signed in Shekau’s name saying that vigilantes (keskes) would be targeted and “Cameroonians, we have not attacked you; do not attack us.”[30] The fliers coincided with religious leaders from Borno recruiting youths among Cameroon’s Kanuri population using persuasion and financial inducements, increased arms trafficking to Boko Haram along Cameroon’s border with Chad, militants in Borno retreating to northern Cameroon and Chad after attacks, and the assassination of informants in Cameroon.[31] It was in the context of these kidnap-for-ransom operations and a rear base in northern Cameroon that the Chibok kidnapping occurred on April 14, 2014.

Local Boko Haram unit leaders in Gwoza, such as Ibrahim Tada Ngalyike,[32] may have carried out the kidnapping in Chibok in coordination with Boko Haram’s factional leaders, including Aminu “Tashen-Ilmi,”[33] Nur, al-Barnawi and Shekau.[34] Tashen-Ilmi was a member of the “Nigerian Taliban” when that group carried out similar small-scale kidnappings and could have leveraged contacts for the Chibok operation with his former co-disciples, Shekau and Nur, the latter of whom was then operating in northern Cameroon.[35] Similarly, Nur’s faction has possibly coordinated kidnappings with al-Barnawi in Cameroon and Borno since February 2013, and the latter’s faction may have carried out the kidnapping and cross-border transfer of some girls, “marketed” the attack with Shekau’s “fear-mongering” video on May 5 and proof-of-life video on May 12, and then transferred some girls deeper into the Sahel or Central Africa.

Factions and Faux Shekaus
Al-Barnawi may be outside of Nigeria, possibly in Niger, where some Ansaru militants retreated after the French intervention in northern Mali, but his faction operates regionally, including in Nigeria and Cameroon.[36] “Muhammed Marwan”—who is likely Mamman Nur—claimed responsibility for releasing a seven-member French family kidnapped in northern Cameroon in April 2013 for $3.14 million and says he is in control of Boko Haram’s “arms and finances.”[37] These arms and finances are likely derived from kidnappings with al-Barnawi’s faction, weapons deals along the Chadian-Cameroonian border, and contacts between Nur’s faction and AQIM, al-Shabab and sponsors in Sudan and possibly the Persian Gulf region.[38] Locally rooted factional leaders, such as Ngalyike and Tashen-Ilmi, who may have been involved in the Chibok kidnapping and are likely in Borno or along the border with Cameroon, can self-finance their factions through looting villages as “spoils of war.”[39]

As for Shekau, he was reportedly injured in northern Mali in 2012, returned to Borno after the French-led military intervention, and recovered from wounds in Amchide, Cameroon, in August 2013, where, according to some reports, he died—but Shekau emerged in a credible September 2013 video.[40] In August 2013, Shekau may nonetheless have been deposed in a “coup” by members of his shura, after which Shekau’s appointed spokesman, Abu Zamira, announced that “commanders as far afield as Niger, Chad, Sudan and Cameroon” agreed to a cease-fire with the Nigerian government and a hiatus in suicide bombings.[41] In late 2013, “Muhammed Marwan”—likely Nur—also announced that he supported the new shura’s cease-fire and that “Shekau lost leadership” of Boko Haram, despite some followers remaining loyal to Shekau.[42]

Even despite this alleged coup in August 2013, it is likely that Nur’s faction and other militants operating in the Borno-Cameroon border region still used Shekau’s name as a nom de guerre to claim attacks or featured imposters of Shekau in Boko Haram video statements.[43] Thus far, only one self-proclaimed pro-negotiation factional leader, Abu Mohammed Abdulaziz, publicly stated in March 2013 that an “imposter” appeared in a Boko Haram video of Shekau, while in March 2014 Nigerian media also began speculating about the “changing faces of Shekau.”[44] Shekau’s faction, however, dismissed Abdulaziz as a “fake” in 2012 and again in March 2013 and reiterated that peace would only come when Shari`a is adopted in Nigeria.[45]

The possibility of multiple factions using Shekau as their “spokesman” or at least Shekau’s name with look-alikes in videos suggests that Shekau’s “stamp-of-approval” is relevant for showing unity or enhancing credibility. Moreover, the stage-managed settings of Boko Haram’s videos of Shekau, including scripts and props such as a mishwak (a teeth-cleaning twig) and the same carpet and armored personnel carrier in several videos, suggest that all factions now operate under one “Boko Haram” umbrella and coordinate a sophisticated external propaganda campaign, with Ansaru either dormant or using the name “Boko Haram” to claim its operations. Nonetheless, in addition to his “spokesman” role, Shekau likely also retains an operational role in ordering—and often claiming—his followers’ massacres of university students, such as in Yobe in September 2013, or of villages in Borno and large-scale attacks on military bases in Maiduguri.

There are likely several Boko Haram factions, but they come together in a confederation for major attacks, such as the kidnapping in Chibok, and also coordinate their public relations strategy. If their demands are met in the Chibok kidnapping, all factions could see the release of dozens of prisoners and ransom payments for all leaders in exchange for the return of some or all of the schoolgirls. Since it is now clear that multiple leaders command Boko Haram fighters, it is likely that Boko Haram could evolve in several new ways.[46]

First, if Boko Haram maintains its safe havens in Borno and northern Cameroon, it may become a resource for violent members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Nigeria—such as Fulanis in Zamfara or Kogi—and nearby countries—such as Central African Republic—to train for attacks on rival Christian ethnic groups with whom they have land or other disputes.[47]

Second, Boko Haram will likely expand its focus outside of northern Nigeria, especially if leaders like al-Barnawi and Nur are operating in Niger and Cameroon, potentially training Séléka[48] militants,[49] and acquiring new funding and weapons to revive Ansaru, but these operations may be carried out under a new group name if schisms with Shekau’s faction widen or if the Chibok negotiations expose factional fault-lines.[50]

Third, Boko Haram’s ideology will become less Nigeria-centric and more trans-regional to attract a new Sahelo-Saharan recruiting pool, but its ideology may still resonate most deeply with Kanuris of the Nigeria-Cameroon-Chad-Niger border region.[51]

Fourth, Boko Haram may prepare for retaliatory attacks on Western targets in southern Nigeria or abroad and take advantage of its networks in Sudan and possibly the United Kingdom if a regional or international coalition collaborates with Nigeria to launch a “total war” on Boko Haram or rescue the schoolgirls from Chibok.[52] Moreover, launching a series of attacks throughout Nigeria would force Nigeria’s military to “divert its attention” from Borno and weaken a renewed offensive against Boko Haram along the Nigeria-Cameroon border.[53]

Finally, even if a cease-fire is reached with some factions, and Boko Haram is limited to Borno or sporadic attacks in Kano, Abuja, and Jos, it will still have the potential to cause instability in Nigeria, including army mutinies and defections, violence during the upcoming February 2015 election season, or a “war” between Christians and Muslims if it launches a renewed series of attacks on churches in the Middle Belt or extends its operations to majority Christian areas of southern Nigeria.[54] As such, Boko Haram can still punch above its weight in Nigeria with attacks that have far-reaching ripple effects on political stability, as seen by the ongoing fallout from the Chibok attack.

Jacob Zenn is an analyst of African and Eurasian Affairs for The Jamestown Foundation and a consultant on countering violent extremism, international law of freedom of association, and socio-cultural analysis for geospatial visualization. Mr. Zenn speaks French and Arabic and carried out field research in the northern Nigeria-Cameroon-Chad-Niger border region three times between 2012 and 2014. He is currently researching Boko Haram’s connections to Central Asian militants in a Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) monograph. Mr. Zenn holds a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a certificate in international studies from the Johns Hopkins-SAIS campus in Nanjing, China.

[1] “Abducted Chibok Girls Seen in Central Africa,” Punch, May 11, 2014.

[2] Kingsley Omonobi, “#BringBackOurGirls: We’ll Sell Chibok Girls into Slavery – Boko Haram,” Vanguard, May 6, 2014; “Chibok Girls: Boko Haram Proposes Prisoner Exchange,” Punch, May 12, 2014.

[3] Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf, Tarihin Musulmai (History of Muslims), video from pre-July 2009, accessed May 2014.

[4] Omonobi, “#BringBackOurGirls: We’ll Sell Chibok Girls into Slavery – Boko Haram.”

[5] Ansaru is the abbreviated name for Jama`at Ansar al-Muslimin fi Bilad al-Sudan, which in Arabic means Supporters of Muslims in the Land of Black Africans.

[6] “Security Officials and Christians Are Enemies of Islam and Muslims, We Will Target and Kill Them – Says Spokesman of Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladi Sudan, Abu Ja’afar,” Desert Herald, June 5, 2012; “Algerian Journalist on ‘Real’ Identity of AQLIM Leader, AQLIM Future in Nigeria,” Agence France-Presse, October 27, 2010.

[7] Shekau believes a cease-fire can only be negotiated once Boko Haram has created an Islamic state or Nigeria adopts a Boko Haram-approved version of Shari`a, while other factions appear to be willing to accept a cease-fire in return for compensation for Boko Haram members killed in the July 2009 clashes and the reconstruction of mosques, as well as punishment of the government officials who took part in the crackdown on Boko Haram.

[8] “Arms Smuggling to Boko Haram Threatens Cameroon,” Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), February 21, 2014; Aminu Abubakar, “Nigerian Troops and Islamic Militants Trade Gunfire in Mountains,” Agence France-Presse, September 25, 2004.

[9] Emanuel Goujon and Aminu Abubakar, “Nigeria’s ‘Taliban’ Plot Comeback from Hide-outs,” Agence France-Presse, January 11, 2006.

[10] A Nigerian convert to Islam told the BBC in 2009 that he “met Yusuf two weeks after finding the sect in Maiduguri and was asked by [Yusuf] to go to Afghanistan,” where he “spent three months and was trained as a bomb specialist” and was “supposed to train five people on his return, but when he did not receive his money he escaped.” See also “Chapter 2 — Country Reports: Africa Overview,” U.S. Department of State, April 30, 2008, which implicates Yusuf and other “Nigerian Taliban” leaders in illegally receiving foreign currency, including funds from “an al-Qa`ida affiliate in Sudan” as well as from “two al-Qa`ida operatives in Pakistan,” sending “Nigerian Taliban” members to train with AQIM in the Sahel and “passing coded messages from Pakistan to Nigerian Taliban members on how to carry out terrorist activities against American interests in Nigeria.” See “Boko Haram Looks to Mali,” Africa Confidential, November 30, 2012; “Boko Haram Scare For Nigeria’s Police Boss,” PM News Nigeria, July 23, 2011; Ikechukwu Nnochiri, “Danger Alert: Al-Qaeda Boss in West Africa Lives in Kano,” Odili.net, April 8, 2012; “Nigerian ‘Trained in Afghanistan,’” BBC, September 2, 2009.

[11] An International Crisis Group report said that “in 2010-2012, Boko Haram was reported to have trained in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba regions, acquiring IED and suicide attack skills. Members en route to Somalia allegedly entered Kenya posing as Muslim preachers and social workers.” Mamman Nur also reportedly “returned from Somalia” before he masterminded the UN Headquarters attack in August 2011. See “Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency,” International Crisis Group, April 2014; “How Nur, Shekau Run Boko Haram,” Vanguard, September 3, 2011; personal interview, Idayat Hassan, Centre for Democracy and Development West Africa (CDD), May 2014; “Nigerian Taliban Reportedly Reforming to Strike Again a Year After Uprising,” Agence France-Presse, July 16, 2010.

[12] These sub-leaders included Mamman Nur, third-in-command, from Cameroon (although some reports suggest he is from Chadian parents); attack planner Abu Mahjin from Chad; chief logistician Abubakar Kilakam from Niger; and Saudi-connected financier Muhiddin Abdullahi from Sudan. According to Vanguard, “As far back as 2010, the Algerian government had said available intelligence reports confirmed that extremist Nigerian Islamic group, Boko Haram, has linked up with AQIM…[Boko Haram] sent out some six members to Algeria to learn how to make Improvised Explosive Devices. Indeed, the students, in the light of Boko Haram’s bombing raids, appeared to have learnt well.” See Jacob Zenn, “Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy,” The Jamestown Foundation, November 2012; “Al-Qaeda Takes Over Boko Haram,” Vanguard, March 9, 2014.

[13] Shekau announced that he formed Jama`at Ahl al-Sunna li al-Da`wa wa al-Jihad (People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad), although it was commonly known as “Boko Haram,” which means “Western education is sinful” in the Hausa language in Nigeria.

[14] On October 2, 2010, AQIM’s media wing, al-Andalus, also published a statement by Abubakar Shekau to the Shumukh al-Islam jihadist web forum, which marked the first time that AQIM ever disseminated any official message from another militant leader or group. Although al-Qa`ida core and Usama bin Ladin did not “recognize” African affiliates like Boko Haram, in 2010 AQIM, al-Qa`ida in Iraq, and al-Shabab issued condolences to the “mujahidin” and “monotheists” in Nigeria. The October 2010 statement from Shekau (which, perhaps, was written by al-Qa`ida) sent Shekau’s “glad tidings” to various al-Qa`ida leaders and affiliates.” See “Periodical Review July 2010 – No. 2,” International Institute for Counterterrorism, August 2010.

[15] Other leaders included Adam Kambar in Kano, Kabiru Sokoto in Sokoto, and Abu Muhammed in Kaduna. See Jide Ajani, “UN House Blast: Mastermind, Nur, Declared Wanted,” Vanguard, September 1, 2011; “Nigerian Islamists Vow ‘Fiercer’ Attacks,” Agence France-Presse, June 15, 2011; “Madalla Bombing: Kabiru Sokoto Says ‘No Case to Answer,’” Pilot Africa, May 17, 2013; “Boko Haram Gets N40Million Donation From Algeria,” Sahara Reporters, May 13, 2012; “North Africa Qaeda Offers to Help Nigerian Muslims,” Reuters, February 1, 2010.

[16] Shekau’s faction focused on carrying out assassinations, church and school arson attacks, prison breaks and mass assaults on government buildings that left many Muslim civilians dead. The northwestern cells carried out bombings, including: in Jos on Christmas Day in 2010; at the Federal Police Headquarters and UN Headquarters (the first suicide bombings in Nigeria’s history) and Madalla church in Abuja in 2011; and 10 church bombings in Kaduna in 2012, including on Easter. The Madalla church is in Niger State, but not far from Abuja. In Shekau’s third video message on April 12, 2012, he said that “some Muslims are using the Boko Haram name to make money,” but indicated that he would not take action against such individuals because they would face “ultimate punishment in the afterlife.” It is possible that Shekau knew of Ansaru’s formation but decided to let Ansaru exist and later use the name “Boko Haram” in videos and possibly even imposters of Shekau without retribution, although it is likely Shekau’s faction leaked information about certain Ansaru cells to the Nigerian security forces.

[17] Ansaru may have eliminated “al-Qa`ida” from its name to avoid international scrutiny and, per AQIM’s advice, to distance itself from Boko Haram’s killing of Muslim civilians. See “Barnawi, Kambar: Qaeda-linked Militants with Boko Haram Ties,” Agence France-Presse, June 21, 2012; Yusuf Alli, “Kabiru Sokoto Names Boko Haram’s Leaders,” The Nation, February 14, 2012; Jide Ajani, “Horror in Sokoto – Al-Qaeda-Funded Group Killed Hostages,” Vanguard, March 11, 2012.

[18] Ansaru and Boko Haram had a dispute over sharing funds from AQIM and the issue of Muslim civilian deaths, but, according to the International Crisis Group, “after they reconciled, Barnawi allegedly entered into a deal by which Shekau, who had the men, would provide security cover, while Barnawi, who had the skills, would kidnap Westerners. Part of the ransom money would fund Boko Haram operations.” Nonetheless, leaks led to the arrests or deaths of several Ansaru commanders as well as Abu Qaqa, who defected from Boko Haram because of Shekau’s unfair treatment of non-Kanuris like Qaqa, who is an Ebira from Kogi. The reconciliation was confirmed in November 2012, when Shekau released a statement in which he issued “glad tidings” to the “Islamic State of Mali” and other al-Qa`ida leaders and affiliates. See “Horror in Sokoto – Al-Qaeda-Funded Group Killed Hostages”; Alli, “Kabiru Sokoto Names Boko Haram’s Leaders”; “Power Tussle in Boko Haram Led to Sect Leader’s Arrest,” Leadership, March 26, 2012; “Dozens of Boko Haram Help Mali’s Rebel Seize Gao,” Vanguard, April 9, 2012; “Mali – Mokhtar Belmokhtar, un des chefs d’Aqmi, est à Gao,” Lepoint.fr, July 4, 2012; “Exclusive: The Last Days of Shekau, Boko Haram Leader,” Vanguard, August 25, 2013; “Boko Haram Leaders Flee Hot Mali to Nigeria,” The Nation, January 31, 2013; “Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency.”

[19] Perhaps as part of their reconciliation, Shekau appointed al-Barnawi’s trainee, “Assalafi,” in Sokoto, and his own commanders, such as Muhammed Zangina, in Kaduna. By 2013, however, the security forces arrested “Assalafi” and Zangina, while Shekau’s sub-commanders in northeastern Nigeria, such as Abubakar Yola in Adamawa and Mommudu Bama in Yobe, were killed. See “Another Boko Haram Commander Killed in Shootout,” PM News Nigeria, September 25, 2012; Michael Olugbode, “JTF Kills Top Boko Haram Commander in Combined Operation,” This Day, April 28, 2013; “Nigerian Troops ‘Kill Boko Haram Commander Momodu Bama,’” BBC, August 14, 2013; “Boko Haram Looks to Mali.”

[20] These percentages are based on the author’s personal statistics.

[21] While it is widely believed that “Muhammed Marwan” is a pseudonym, there is also speculation that Marwan may refer to a former Boko Haram “spiritual adviser” named Abdullahi Damasak. This author, however, believes that Marwan is likely a pseudonym for Mamman Nur for the following reasons: the name Muhammed Marwan may be in reference to Mamman (another spelling for Muhammed) and Marwa, Nur’s hometown in Cameroon; Marwan’s claim to have released the seven-member French family kidnapped in northern Cameroon in April 2013, which is in Nur’s current area of operations and an operation Nur’s faction likely carried out in coordination with al-Barnawi’s faction; Marwan’s claim to have carried out a motor park bombing in Kano, which resembles the motor park bombings in Abuja in April and May 2014, whose connection to al-Shabab and Sudanese Boko Haram networks suggest Nur may have been involved since Nur was trained by al-Shabab and Nur masterminded the two other major bombings in Abuja of the UN Headquarters and Federal Police Headquarters in 2011; Marwan’s claim to be “second-in-command” to Shekau, which is consistent with Nur’s natural rank in Boko Haram after Yusuf’s death. Nur, like Marwan, was also opposed to Shekau’s obstinate stance on negotiations and was in favor of negotiations with the government over the release of Boko Haram prisoners and compensation for the July 2009 clashes. Like Marwan, Nur was also likely based in Kano because Kano was the hub of international funding to Boko Haram; Nur’s connections to al-Shabab and AQIM and involvement in the UN Headquarters attack, which was planned from Kano, suggest that Kano is where Nur would have received such funds. Marwan’s absence from making public statements from his base in Kano since August 2013 may also be attributed to the fact that Nur has been reported by Cameroonian sources to be operating in northern Cameroon in early 2014. Moreover, Boko Haram commander Kabiru Sokoto said in February 2012 after his arrest that Abdullahi Damasak had already been arrested. See “Another Boko Haram Figure Speaks, Ruling Out Dialogue With Nigeria Gov’t,” Sahara Reporters, January 29, 2013; David Martosko, “Hillary Clinton’s State Department Refused to Classify Boko Haram as a ‘Terror Group’ Even After it Threatened to ‘Murder the U.S. Ambassador’ to Nigeria,” Daily Mail, May 15, 2014; Alli, “Kabiru Sokoto Names Boko Haram’s Leaders.”

[22] Nur’s “messages” likely included the motor park bombing in Kano (which was claimed by “Muhammed Marwan”) in March 2013 and likely also the two bombings in a motor park outside of Abuja in the month before Nigeria hosted the World Economic Forum on May 7, 2014.

[23] An intelligence report by Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS) “revealed that some 200 persons suspected to be of Nigerian origin successfully completed their training at a camp in Mali.” They reportedly fled Mali before a French airstrike in January 2013. Security experts told this author that the mounting of weapons on 4×4 vehicles in Borno after the French-led military intervention in Mali was likely a tactic learned from Mali. See “French Foreign Minister Says Documents Show Nigeria’s Boko Haram Trained in North Mali,” Fox News, November 14, 2013; “B’Haram’s Anti-Aircraft Training Camp Uncovered in Niger,” Punch, February 19, 2014; “Over 200 Nigerians Train as Terrorists in Mali, Says Report,” Nigeria Political Economist, May 9, 2014.

[24] “Boko Haram Claims Responsibility For Attacks in Baga, Bama; Promises More On The Way,” Sahara Reporters, May 13, 2013; “Boko Haram Latest Threats: Maiduguri JTF Spokesperson, Sagir Musa Responds,” Sahara Reporters, May 20, 2013; “Boko Haram Militants Shows Off Weapons ‘Captured’ From an Army Barracks,” Sahara TV, April 29, 2013; Ndahi Marama, “Kidnapped Monguno Regains Freedom After Payment of Ransom,” Vanguard, May 7, 2013.

[25] According to Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa after his arrest in 2012, Boko Haram members who refused to go on suicide missions faced the “death penalty.” He also said that Shekau’s tendency to select non-Kanuris for such missions alienated members from other ethnic groups. Some members also preferred Mamman Nur as leader over Shekau because Shekau’s focus was domestic, while Nur’s was more transnational. See Yusuf Alli, “How Bombers are Chosen, by Boko Haram Suspect,” The Nation, February 9, 2012; “Boko Haram Militants Shows Off Weapons ‘Captured’ From an Army Baracks”; “Twenty Islamists Killed in Northeast Nigeria: Military,” Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2013; “New Boko Haram Sect Emerges, Shows Off Large Cache Of Arms And Ammunitions,” Information Nigeria, May 2, 2013.

[26] “Nigerian Islamists Retreat, Apparently to Fight Another Day,” Reuters, June 7, 2013.

[27] In December 2013, 80% of Boko Haram attacks were in areas of Borno south of Maiduguri—the most limited area of operations in its history. Gwoza is also about one mile from Cameroon and six miles from Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest. Its population is approximately 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist. See “Nigerian Christians Brace for More ‘Taleban’ Attack,” Nigeria/Africa Masterweb News Report, March 1, 2005; “Army ‘Corners’ Boko Haram Leader, Shekau, in Borno Hills – Punch Newspaper,” Sahara Reporters, July 26, 2013.

[28] The first such kidnapping was in February 2013, when militants kidnapped a seven-member French family in Waza, Cameroon, who were released in Gwoza in April 2013 for $3.14 million from the Cameroonian government and in exchange for 19 prisoners in Cameroonian and Nigerian prisons. A Nigerian journalist told the author that this ransom money “did not go to Shekau.” The second kidnapping was in November 2013, when militants kidnapped a French priest in Nguechewe, Cameroon, and released him weeks later on “compassionate grounds,” but also in return for a weapons smuggler in a Cameroonian prison and an undisclosed sum of money (reportedly $12.5 million from the Cameroonian government). A third kidnapping took place in April 2014, when militants kidnapped two Italian priests and a Canadian nun in Tchéré, Cameroon—near Nur’s reported hometown of Marwa—and brought them toward the Nigerian border (their location remains unknown). A fourth kidnapping of 10 Chinese engineers in Waza, Cameroon, took place on May 17, 2014, and, like the Tchéré kidnapping, they were probably taken to Borno. Although the third kidnapping remains unclaimed, suspicions fell on Boko Haram, while the first one of the French family was first claimed by Boko Haram, but in a statement that, like AQIM and previous Ansaru statements, was in Arabic and criticized France for the intervention in Mali. The second kidnapping of the French priest was claimed by Boko Haram in “coordination” with Ansaru. See “Senior Officials in Cameroon Suspected of Complicity With Nigerian Islamic Sect,” Cameroon-Info.net, April 11, 2014; “Abducted Chinese Likely in Nigeria – Cameroon,” Vanguard, May 17, 2014; Guibai Guitama, “Cameroun – Libération du père Georges Vandenbeusch: Le négociateur désigné de Boko Haram réclame son argent,” L’Oeil du Sahel, January 6, 2014; Ola Audu, “Boko Haram Threatens JTF Spokesperson, Demands Prisoners Exchange for French Nationals,” Premium Times, March 18, 2013; “Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘Got $3m Ransom’ to Free Hostages,” BBC, April 26, 2013; “Taking the Hostage Road,” Africa Confidential, March 15, 2013; “Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency.”

[29] One estimate suggested that Boko Haram received up to $70 million in total from al-Qa`ida funding streams. In addition, an anonymous expert suggested to the author that some of the money paid to AQIM for four Frenchmen in northern Mali “ended up in Boko Haram’s pockets.” See Jide Ajani, “Funding of Terror Network: ‘Boko Haram Got Over N11bn to Kill and Maim,’” Vanguard, May 4, 2014; Chris Okocha et al., “Women, Children Detainees to be Released First, Says FG,” This Day, May 23, 2013; Senator Iroegbu, “JTF: ‘We’ve Rescued 9 Hostages Held by Boko Haram,’” This Day, May 25, 2013.

[30] The fliers were released between December 2013 and February 2014 in northern Cameroon. See “Boko Haram Met en Garde le Cameroun,” Le Septentrion, February 2014.

[31] Farouk Chotia, “Will Nigeria’s Abducted Schoolgirls Ever be Found?” BBC, May 12, 2014; “Are Nigeria’s Neighbors Safe Havens for Boko Haram?” Voice of America, March 25, 2014; David Wemai, “Cameroun – Goulfey: Une impressionnante cache d’armes découverte,” L’Oeil du Sahel, March 27, 2014; “288 Rifles, 35 Rockets Seized From Terrorists in Cameroon,” Vanguard, April 1, 2014; “Cameroun: Boko Haram recrute des jeunes à la frontière avec le Nigeria,” Jeune Africa, April 3, 2014; “Arms Smuggling to Boko Haram Threatens Cameroon”; Moki Edwin Kindzeka, “Boko Haram Attacks Near Border Spark Fear in Cameroon,” Voice of America, January 17, 2014; Stephanie Gosk, “Nigerian Neighbor Cameroon Faces ‘Phantom Enemy’ Boko Haram,” NBC News, May 20, 2014.

[32] In late 2013, Ngalyike, who was a militant known for “using traditional charms that make him disappear,” began attacking security forces and civilian JTF members and seizing teenage girls who, like the Chibok schoolgirls, were forced to wear veils and cook for Ngalyike’s foot-soldiers. The name “Tada Ngalyike” suggests that he is Dghwede from near Gwoza. Ngalyike’s unit hid in the mountains outside of Gwoza, and also received “guests” from Maiduguri, which may have helped Boko Haram plan its sporadic, but large-scale attacks in Maiduguri, such as on Maiduguri Air Base in December 2013 and Giwa Barracks in March 2014. It is also possible that Tashen-Ilmi, Shekau and Maiduguri-based operational leaders in coordination with militants in the Mandara Mountains like Ngalyike are responsible for carrying out massacres of villages in southern Borno, targets which are rejected by other Boko Haram factions, including Mamman Nur’s and the shura that broke from Shekau in July 2013. See Joe Brock, “Insight: Boko Haram, Taking to Hills, Seize Slave ‘Brides,’” Reuters, November 17, 2013; Kingsley Omonobi et al., “Chibok: American Marines Locate Abducted Girls in Sambisa Forest, Vanguard, May 10, 2014.

[33] Tashen-Ilmi is from a town near Gwoza and was a former “Nigerian Taliban” member involved in the clashes in 2003 and 2004. He also was a University of Maiduguri dropout who, like Shekau, previously believed Yusuf was too “soft” and that “Bin Ladin does the work of God.” See “Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency”; Emmanuel Goujon & Aminu Abubakar, “Nigeria’s ‘Taliban’ Plot Comeback from Hide-outs,” Agence France-Presse, January 11, 2006.

[34] Another reported factional leader is “Abu Sumayya,” although in an interview he referred to Shekau as the leader of Boko Haram. See “Interview with One Mujahid from Jama`at Ahl al-Sunna li al-Da`wa wa al-Jihad in Nigeria,” As-Sawarim Media Foundation, May 26, 2014.

[35] “Suspected Boko Haram Militants Attack in Cameroon,” Channel 4 News, May 17, 2014.

[36] Evidence of Ansaru’s operations in Niger include the statement of an Ansaru member, Abu Ali al-Nigeria, in the video that Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s faction and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) released after they jointly carried out suicide attacks on a French uranium mine in Arlit, Niger, and on the military barracks in Agadez, Niger, in retaliation for Abu Zeid’s death and Niger’s support of France’s “war on Shari`a” in Mali in 2013. Ansaru may also have taken part in the June 1, 2013, attack on a prison in Niamey, Niger’s capital, that freed 22 prisoners, including a long-time AQIM member, and may have intended to free several detained Boko Haram or Ansaru members. See “Le Mujao revendique le double attentat et promet qu’il y en aura d’autres,” Radio France Internationale, May 24, 2013; “Niger: Boko Haram Prisoners Tried to Escape,” Associated Press, June 2, 2013; Ola Audu, “How Boko Haram Turned to Kidnapping to Raise Funds in Borno,” Premium Times, May 20, 2014.

[37] For an explanation of some reasons why Niger’s Diffa has not seen the same level of Boko Haram-related security threats as compared to Cameroon, see Jacob Zenn, “Niger’s Security Strategy in Boko Haram’s Badlands,” The Soufan Group, February 12, 2014; “We are Ready to Accept Amnesty – Boko Haram Leaders,” Codewit World News, April 21, 2013.

[38] Regis Soubrouillard, “Interview with Alain Chouet, Former Director of Intelligence at the French General Directorate of External Security,” Marianne, May 20, 2014.

[39] Chesa Chesa, “Boko Haram Kills Over 100, Abducts Eight More Girls in Borno,” Daily Independent, May 6, 2014.

[40] In the video, Shekau taunted President Jonathan, Margaret Thatcher, President Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu and President Hollande saying they “should bury their heads in shame” before he “announces to the world that I am alive today with Allah’s authority alone…I withdrew myself from public view and remained silent. You can assume that this is a fake image of mine (laughing)…Can you believe telling the world I was injured in a battle in Sambisa Forest and taken to Amchide for treatment and died (laughing).” Moreover, Shekau’s detained family members have never claimed he was dead, nor have detained Boko Haram militants. There have also been no “martyrdom” videos of Shekau, and the U.S. foreign terrorist designation of Shekau in 2012 (as well as al-Barnawi and Adam Kambar) and recent statements by U.S. officials suggest that the U.S. government believes Shekau is alive. See “Boko Haram National Leader, Abubakar Shekau, Narrowly Escapes Arrest,” Premium Times, April 6, 2012; Aminu Abubakar, “Boko Haram Leader (Shekau) Escapes Arrest In Kano – Wife Arrested,” Nigerian Tribune, March 5, 2012; “Dozens of Boko Haram Help Mali’s Rebel Seize Gao”; Jacob Zenn, “Nigerians in Gao: Was Boko Haram Really Active in Northern Mali?” African Arguments, January 20, 2014; “JTF Claims Boko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau, May Have Died Of Gunshot Wounds,” Premium Times, August 19, 2013; Hamza Idris, “Boko Haram’s Shekau Likely Dead, JTF Says,” Daily Trust, August 20, 2013.

[41] Based on Yusuf’s and Shekau’s video from before July 2009, it is likely that Shekau’s position is that negotiations can only take place with the Nigerian government once an Islamic state is established. See “Shekau Shot, Deposed – Boko Haram Spiritual Leader,” Vanguard, August 2, 2013; “Boko Haram Announces Peace Discussions,” Nigeria Village Square, July 20, 2013; “Nur Killed OBJ’s Host Fugu – Security Sources,” Vanguard, September 19, 2011; “Muhammad Marwana ya Kalubalanci Abubakar Shekau” (Muhammad Marwana Challenges Abubakar Shekau), Voice of America (Hausa), July 20, 2013; “Gwamnatin Najeriya da Boko Haram sun yi Ikirarin cim ma Yarjejeniyar Tsagaita Wuta” (The Nigerian Government and Boko Haram Say They Have Agreed to a Ceasefire), Radio France Internationale (Hausa), July 8, 2013; “Da Alamu Akwai Baraka Taskanin Shekau da Marwana” (Apparently, There is a Rift Between Shekau and Marwana), Voice of America (Hausa), July 15, 2013; “Kwamandojin Boko Haram sun bar Shekau Cikin Rana” (Boko Haram Commanders Abandon Shekau), Voice of America (Hausa), July 22, 2013.

[42] “Leader of Boko Haram Faction in Official Talks With the Nigerian Gov’t Claims Responsibility For Deadly Kano Bombings, Says Abubakar Shekau Still Alive,” Sahara Reporters, August 4, 2013.

[43] There is precedent for using nom de guerres in Boko Haram, such as when Abu Qaqa was arrested in 2012, but for the next half-year Boko Haram insisted he was not the real “Abu Qaqa,” despite the ensuing hiatus in Boko Haram statements and Boko Haram’s killing of Qaqa’s father in retribution for Qaqa’s revelations about Boko Haram. Moreover, Nur, al-Barnawi, Abu Zamira and Tashen-Ilmi—as well as all former Ansaru shura members—cover their faces with veils or do not appear publicly or in videos, which would make them more likely to allow faux Shekaus and the real Shekau to remain the official “face” of Boko Haram while they operate behind-the-scenes. Other reasons for the use of multiple Shekaus include that Shekau was debilitated or away in Mali or another country for a period of time, which necessitated substitutes, or that after the U.S. “foreign terrorist” designation of Shekau in 2012 he went underground and used multiple images as a form of deception. See “Boko Haram Announces Peace Discussions”; Adam Nossiter, “Jihadist’s Face Taunts Nigeria From Shadows,” New York Times, May 20, 2014.

[44] Abu Mohammed Abdulaziz claimed that Nur was on his negotiation team in 2012, but distanced himself from the kidnapping of the French family from northern Cameroon in 2013, which Nur’s faction may have carried out with al-Barnawi’s faction. “Muhammed Marwan”—who is likely Nur—also refuted a January 2013 cease-fire announced by Abdulaziz. This suggests that Abdulaziz may at one point have been in Nur’s faction. A Nigerian politics blog, Beegeagle’s Blog, began holding discussion on whether there were imposters of Shekau as early as August 20, 2013. See Ndahi Marama, “Boko Haram Agrees to a Cease Fire,” Vanguard, January 28, 2013; “The Changing Faces of Shekau,” PM News Nigeria, March 25, 2014.

[45] Complicating the issue of the alleged “imposter” that Abdulaziz claimed appeared as “Shekau” in the March 1, 2013, video is the fact that this video came out in one public version with Shekau speaking in Hausa, while a second version that was never released publicly but obtained by the author featured Shekau speaking in a language other than Hausa or Arabic, which may mean that two versions of the video were produced, with the internal version also containing “highlight clips” of other Boko Haram commanders, including one called “Abu Fatima,” who was associated with Ansaru in 2012. See “Statement by Boko Haram’s Spokesperson Debunking Reports of Dialogue with the Nigerian Government,” Sahara Reporters, August 23, 2012; Haruna Umar, “Boko Haram Leader Denies Peace Talks with Nigeria,” Associated Press, March 3, 2013; Chuks Okocha, “We Are Not Ghosts, Boko Haram Tells Jonathan,” This Day, March 14, 2013; “Another Islamic Sect Emerges to Counter Boko Haram?” Desert Herald, June 2, 2012.

[46] “Muhammed Marwan” (who is likely Mamman Nur), Abu Zamira and other factional leaders have stated that Shekau was deposed, lost leadership of Boko Haram, or that Shekau now controlled a reduced following within Boko Haram. Nur’s and al-Barnawi’s factions have also likely coordinated and introduced attacks beyond Shekau’s known capabilities and area of influence, such as kidnappings in Cameroon. Notably, the first video claim of a kidnapping in Cameroon of the seven-member French family was the first time suspicions emerged that a faux Shekau was used in the split-screen video with the family, possibly because Nur’s faction carried out the attack and claimed it in Shekau’s name with imposters and possibly to disguise that the $3.14 ransom really went to Nur and al-Barnawi—and not Shekau. Moreover, Shekau never had full control over cells in Kano or northwestern Nigeria, with some commanders such as Kabiru Sokoto denying he was in Shekau’s faction, and Shekau was not known to have strong ties to Sudan, but the motor park bombings in Abuja in April and May 2014 were masterminded by individuals tied to Sudan, suggesting that leaders other than Shekau are coordinating major attacks.

[47] Boko Haram also reportedly recruits among Hausas, Fulania, Kanuris, Tuareg and Toubous in Niger. See Friday Olokor, “Fulani Herdsmen are Terrorists, Says ex-Zamfara Gov,” Punch, March 31, 2014; Ike Abonyi, “Boko Haram: SSS Bursts New Cell in Kogi,” This Day, November 21, 2013; “Bomb Blasts Rock Jos Market,” Vanguard, May 20, 2014.

[48] Séléka is a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition in Central African Republic, which includes Sudanese and Chadian fighters. It was formerly led by Michel Djotodia, who overthrew President François Bozizé on March 24, 2013.

[49] Séléka began carrying out kidnappings in Cameroon in May 2014. Multiple sources suggested there is some level of Boko Haram presence in Central African Republic and likely mutual networks in Sudan and Chad, while pictures of Séléka militants inscribing “Bocouharame [Boko Haram]” on their uniforms shows that Boko Haram has influence among some of its fighters. As of May 9, 2014, it was reported that “almost 50 girls who speak only English but not any of the Central African languages, or those of Sudan or yet still those of Chad, were temporarily carried on board a truck confined in Birao,” possibly referring to the girls from Chibok. See “Kidnapped Nigerian High School Girls Spotted in Northern CAR,” Kangbi Ndara, May 9, 2014; Hanna McNeish, “Lawless CAR Attracting Terrorists’ Attention,” Voice of America, November 22, 2013; Michelle Shephard, “Will Central African Republic Become a Battleground for Religious Radicals?” Toronto Star, March 27, 2014; Moki Edwin Kindzeka, “Cameroon Blames Séléka Rebels for Hostage Taking,” Voice of America, May 15, 2014; “Abducted Chibok Girls Seen in Central Africa,” Punch, March 11, 2014; “Central African Republic: Violence Leaves ‘30 Dead,’” BBC, April 9, 2014; Adam Nossiter, “New Threat in Nigeria as Militants Split Off,” New York Times, April 23, 2013; Krista Larson, “In Central African Republic, Diamonds Are Seleka Rebels’ Best Friend,” Associated Press, May 6, 2013.

[50] Nonetheless, all factions will likely for the short-term continue to eschew bureaucratic and administrative structures and the unpopular forms of Shari`a that AQIM and al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula established in northern Mali and Zinjibar, Yemen, in 2012 and 2010, respectively, and the knowledge of which has likely been passed on to Boko Haram.

[51] This was exemplified by Shekau’s scripted May 5, 2014, video statement, in which he stated “we are together with Usman dan Fodio” as well as his recalling past instances of Muslim-Christian violence, which are two cornerstones of Ansaru’s former statements and that are unheard of in Boko Haram statements since Yusuf’s death and may appeal to all West Africans, including militants in Central African Republic. Recent surveys of armed militants operating alongside Boko Haram in Borno and northern Cameroon reveal that the militants’ goal is to “knock out” Nigeria and then “create a Sahelo-Saharan Islamic Empire that mirrors the boundaries of the pre-colonial Kanem-Borno empire, which extended from Borno through Cameroon, Chad and Niger to southern Libya and Sudan.” To such militants, the battle with France in northern Mali in 2013 was a “prep” for the real battle, which is to take place in Nigeria and which is facilitated by Kanuris’ sense of grievance for their lost empire and inspired by the ideal that an Islamic state is possible—as represented by Iran’s “Islamic Revolution” in 1979. See personal interview, Idayat Hassan, Centre for Democracy and Development West Africa (CDD), May 2014.

[52] Evidence of this includes: Shekau’s threats on the refineries in the Niger Delta in his past three videos; Boko Haram’s possible coordination with Séléka in transferring the kidnapped girls to Central African Republic; Shekau’s calls in 2013 for “brethren” from “Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria” to join Boko Haram; Boko Haram’s attacks on bridges connecting Nigeria to Cameroon and on prisons where Boko Haram members are held in Cameroon and first reported “ambush” on Nigerien troops in Diffa, Niger, in May 2014; the two bombings in a motor park outside of Abuja in April and May 2014 in coordination with networks in Sudan and possibly the United Kingdom; and the kidnapping of 10 Chinese workers in Cameroon on May 17, 2014, one week after China agreed to support Nigeria to combat Boko Haram. Boko Haram’s connections to the United Kingdom can be seen in at least three incidents: Kabiru Sokoto, the plotter of several bombings of churches in the Middle Belt with AQIM funding, was arrested in 2012 with a ticket in hand for London; al-Muntada Trust in the United Kingdom reportedly funded Islamic charities in Sudan in the 2000s, which also funded Boko Haram; and the mastermind of a motor park bombing in Abuja in April 2014 was a UK citizen of Nigerian descent, who was arrested in Sudan. See John Irish and Elizabeth Pineau, “West Africa Leaders Vow to Wage ‘Total War’ on Boko Haram,” Reuters, May 17, 2014; “Cameroon: Boko Haram Said Attack Barracks, Free Two Detained ‘High Profile’ Fighters in North,” Sahara Reporters, May 5, 2014; Adolarc Lamissa, “Nigerian Islamic Sect Intends to Attack Maroua Central Prison,” Le Jour, May 9, 2014; “Niger Arrests 14 Suspected Boko Haram After Troop Ambush,” Reuters, May 6, 2014; Yusuf Alli, “Untold Story of Kabiru Sokoto,” The Nation, January 22, 2012; Jamie Doward, “Peer Raises Fears Over UK Charity’s Alleged Links to Boko Haram,” Guardian, September 9, 2012.

[53] When Suleiman Muhammed, an ethnic Yoruba Boko Haram commander in Kano, was arrested in 2012, he said Boko Haram “decided to shift to the South in order to divert the attention of security agencies, which are on the trail of its members in the North.” See “Captive Ethnic Yoruba Boko Haram Kingpin Says ‘We Planned To Invade Lagos, Onitsha, Ibadan, Enugu and Warri Too’; Says ‘Terrorists Feeling The Impact Of The Security Crackdown,’” Beegeagle’s Blog, May 17, 2012.

[54] Nigeria’s Middle Belt, which includes Kaduna, Jos (Plateau State), and Abuja, is a region of central Nigeria populated by diverse ethnic groups. It is where majority Muslim northern Nigeria and majority Christian southern Nigeria meet and clash, particularly over land use and during election seasons. Also see Ibanga Isine, “Boko Haram Wants War Between Christians, Muslims in Nigeria – Jonathan,” Premium Times, May 5, 2014.

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