Who are the Boko Haram?- The name of the group isn't actually Boko Haram; this is the local name of the group but has been adopted by international organisations to refer to the group. Their official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'Awati Wal-Jihad, (translated as 'People Committed to the Prophet's Teachings for Propagation and Jihad), and their de facto name Boko Haram translating to 'Western Education is Forbidden'. Their name shows an obvious antagonism towards the Western style of teaching to favor instead a fundamentalist, Islam style of education. We can also learn more about them from their logo.
The origin of the Boko Haram- The origin of the group lies in the turbulent past of Nigeria. Ethnic and religious violence had rocked the country in the past and the end of military rule helped some more violent groups emerged where previously they would have been suppressed. Through social inequalities academics from the northern states had gained influence with the youth being attracted to the more extremist clerics in the north who offered an alternate government system to the corrupt one in power. Thus in 2002 comes Mohammed Yusuf, pictured below.
How influential are they?- The Boko Haram has managed to declare a caliphate. The group rules over 50,000 square kilometers, or 20,000 square miles, which to put into perspective ISIS currently controls 32,133 square kilometers or 12,407 square miles. No official group has recognized the Boko Haram's claim of forming a caliphate, (and non will), but it is still as terrifying thing. They are also expanding rapidly outside Nigeria with them attacking Cameroon and merely a few hours before this was posted they attacked a border town in Niger. They have caused up to 1.5 million people to flee because of their growing power. They are also well funded. Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab have been funding the group. Unfortunately this is not the only way they are getting funds. They often make millions by kidnapping foreigners and Nigerian officials with them at one point abducting the wife of Cameroon's Vice-President although she has been returned despite the Cameroon government saying that they never paid a ransom, (something highly doubtful considering the group's reputation). They also profit greatly from kidnapping innocent women and young girls to sell as sex slaves and with reports from some of the girls from the 200 who were kidnapped who managed to escape it is likely that they have sold the others in the slave trade. This both shows their depravity and that the slave trade has not died.
Some of them are in the executive arm of government, some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some are even in the judiciary, some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.The military have also inflamed the situation with Amnesty International reporting frequent electrocuting, rape and torture during the fight. Summary executions, shooting protesters and corruption has made 90% of the population distrust the army and convince some to join the group. Finally the media also has given the group much less attention compared to ISIS with Al Jazeera and the Israeli paper Haaretz only reporting it's actions fully. When ISIS captured Mosul and fought in the streets of Kobane emergency meetings were held and air strikes started. When Boko Haram took Baga and solidified their new 'caliphate' it was ignored by most media. Although timing also helped as when the Baga massacre took place the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened. Also most of the world has been looking at or sending troops to Iraq since 2004 whereas Nigeria had relative peace so naturally the press would focus on this area of the world where the US and coalition forces have had such a major presence. Nevertheless the lack of press attention made the Catholic Archbishop of Jos criticize the media saying:
I can smell a lot more trouble. It's not going to be confined to this region. It's going to expand. It will go to Europe and elsewhere.Recently the UK, France, Israel and Canada have pledged support with the UK sending trainers and aid to Nigeria while the French have sent 3,000 troops for counter-terrorism. China has also offered satellite data and military equipment, (in recent years China has been investing in African countries). Niger, Cameroon and Chad have also started to fight the group with Chad a few days ago routing Boko Haram forces near the border.
What will happen in the future with the group is uncertain. However the fanaticism of the group has made the world worried and its ever growing strength could mean that northern Nigeria could be the center of world terrorism instead of Iraq and Afghanistan.