Boko Haram Terrorism: 2003-2011

Boko Haram Terrorism: 2003-2011


Howard Adelman

Look at the news from Nigeria yesterday. One person was killed and 18 injured by a female suicide bomber at a campaign rally for Goodluck Jonathan on Monday near a stadium in the northern city of Gombe. This analysis of Boko Haram violence covers the so-called early one year of violence (December 2003-October 2004), the second stage of non-violence between 2005-mid-2009, the turning point in the summer of 2009 when 800 were killed, the fourth stage in the development of the lethal character of Boko Haram from mid-2009 to mid-2010 when Boko Haram consolidated, trained and developed a more systematic strategy. The bulk of the material covers the fifth phase in the development of Boko Haram from mid-2010 to the end of 2011. Tomorrow I will provide an analysis of Boko Haram violence for 2012-2014.

Stage 1   2002- October 2004 Founding until death of Mohammed Yusuf

Priority violence for recruitment and action vs just teaching; violence incidental

Stage 2 November 2004 until mid-2009 period of non-violence

Stage 3   Turning point in the summer of 2009 when Yusuf killed in police custody and 800 killed in subsequent violence

Stage 4   Summer 2009-summer 2010: consolidation and strategizing

Stage 5   August 2010 to December 2011

  • Internationalization of conflict with attack on UN compound in Abuja & links with al-Qaeda
  • More sophisticated use of more powerful explosives
  • Increasingly more direct attacks on soldiers and not just police
  • Increasing number of attacks on military targets with more sophisticated coordination over this period
  • Attacks on banks to fund purchase of more sophisticated explosives & arms and on businessmen who do not pay into their protection racket; note that the attacks on banks were linked with simultaneous attacks on police stations to foil any attempt to prevent the robberies; I have included such attacks under Financial
  • Individual attacks on political figures average 1 per month
  • Individual attacks on moderate Muslim clerics who denounce BH; average 1 per 2 months
  • A primary method of assassinating individuals is drive-by shootings from a motorcycle which becomes a rite-of-passage for new recruits
  • Near the end of this period, the attacks on civilian targets increase in frequency
  • Though attacks on Christians begin in January 2011, they really only get up to speed in the latter part of the year, culminating in attacks on churches throughout Nigeria on Christmas Day in 2011

The most significant attack is probably the one on 26 August 2011 when the UN compound in Abuja was attacked by an explosive-laden Honda sport vehicle driven at high speed through the exit gates of the compound by 27-year-old Mohammed Abdul Barra in which an estimated 200 were killed (Nigeria government declared 23 died) and hundreds more injured (the Nigerian government declared 80 injured). The attack, masterminded by Mamman Nur (an alias used by Osama bin Laden’s bomb maker), an al-Qaeda-linked member of Boko Haram, was rationalized because the UN was labelled as the “forum of all global evil” and a partner “in the oppression of believers.” This attack also marked an escalation both in the sophistication of the explosives used, the planning of the attack and the internationalization of the conflict. Prior to that date, the only attack on a non-Nigerian target had been the 2 May 2011 bombing in Bwari of the Peace Corps offices in which 3 were killed.

There was one slim hope of a turning point. Babakura Alhaji Fugu, the son of late Alhaji Baba Fugu, the father-in-law to Mohammed Yussuf, founder of Boko Haram, had entered into discussions of a possible peace with former Nigerian President Oluṣẹgun Obasanjo. Two days later, and just before an appearance on Sahara TV, on 17 September 2011, Fugu was assassinated by Boko Haram.

Until the end of 2011, media had not been targeted, with the exception of the 16 October 2011 assassination of the reporter Zakariyya Isa in front of his house, but the evidence suggests that he was not murdered because he was a reporter but because he was believed to be passing information that he gathered on Boko Haram to the Nigerian security services. Finally, at the end of December 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, Niger and the Plateau States. (I believed I made a typo the day before yesterday and put in 2013.) He also closed the borders to Chad and Niger. Finally, he authorized his security officials to create a special counter-terrorism unit to fight Boko Haram.

I am grateful to Perspectives on Terrorism 8:6 for compiling the collection of attacks, but I take full responsibility for the classification used below and the trend interpretation I have offered. In doing so, I use several short forms which I believe are obvious. For example, BH refers to Boko Haram members killed and not Boko Haram in general. MC refers to drive-by killings from a motorcycle. Most politicians and religious leaders were murdered in front of their own homes. One important caution: some killings blamed on Boko Haram may be by political opponents or other agents. At the same time, some assassinations could either be based on rumour or on learning, or believing one had learned, that one person was a double agent. For example, on 3 November 2011, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias: Usman al-Zawahiri), a member of Boko Haram, was slain. Konduga claimed to have been working in Borno for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).a2

[I do not know how to copy the charts so if you want the information in proper chart form, write


24-31 Dec. 2003 Kanamma & Geldam, Yobo State 200 frontal ???
January 2004 Damboa Police Station
June 2004 Damaturu, capital of Yobe State Prison break 4 BH
23 Sept. 2004 Gwoza & Bama Police stations

Police patrols

4 police

2 civilians

24 attackers

10 October 2004 Kala Balge, Lake Chad Police convoy 15 officers

30 JUNE 2009 TO DECEMBER 2011


2009 Killed Injured
26 July Maiduguri BH Guns 17 BH
9 July Maiduguri




22 BH

2 police

50 civilians

3 July 800 deaths incl.

28 police

5 wardens

5 Sept. MC 1 police
7 Sept. Baluchi jail 100 BH

Freed +

600 others

23 Oct. aborted Police Station Fire 1 BH
13 Nov. Bashir Mohammed MC 1 soldier
24 Nov. Ramat Mohammat

Salisu Jibrin



1 police

1 soldier

4 Dec. Abuja BH-army clash 2 BH

3 civilians

29 Dec. Police patrol 7-8 police
3 Jan Corporal James MC 1 police
9 Jan. Church guard Amos Tangurda MC 1 police
23 Jan. Borno MC 1 soldier
26 Jan. Bauchi MC 1 police
27 Jan. Gasua Zamfara Police MC
2 Feb. Police Dep. Super. gunfight 1 six-year-old
20 Feb. Financier gunfight 5 BH
24 Feb. Maiduguri Police inspector MC 1 police
28 Feb. Home invasion Mustapha Sandamu gun 1 police

1 civilian

26 March Soldier on patrol MC 1 soldier 16 civ.
15 April Maiduguri Soldiers MC 2 soldiers

2 civilians

16 April Elis Dawa, police insp. Gun duel 1 police
30 April Prison warder 1 warder
5 May Maiduguri Prison warders 2 warders
17 May Police mosque guard MC 1 police
18 May Maiduguri Police station Assault 10 police
27 May Damboa Borno Police station

Soldiers barracks


70 BH

4 police
30 May Bauchi Military beer garden 13 soldiers 33
1 Sept. Biu Operation Tsaro

Military rampage

2 BH

Military officer

3 civilians

13 Sept. Maiduguri Ambush following BH

Arrests of 15 BH

4 soldiers
16 Oct. Mopol Base 15 vehicles destroyed

Base burned

Assault 1 police

3 BH

25 Oct. Damaturu, Yobe 1 police
4 Nov. Maiduguri Military base many
15 Nov. JTF firefight with BH 2 soldiers

1 child

21 Nov. JTF firefight with BH 3 soldiers

3 BH

26-27 Nov. Bomb attacks 4 police
13 Dec. Soldiers crossfire 10 civilians
17 Dec. Maiduguri


Bomber’s bomb



4 BH 3 police

19 Dec. Kano,





3 police

3 BH

21 Dec. Military convoy bomber 53 killed (BH,

Soldiers, police,


23 Dec. Maiduguri 6 simultaneous attacks 10,000 IDPs

Scores killed

24 Dec. Port Harcourt Military barracks

Bouganvillea Hotel

Shell oil facility

26 Dec. Kano Air Force School Assault 4 air force

2 BH

30 Dec. Maiduguri Military check point Assault 4 passer-bys

POLITICAL TARGETS: attacks against politicians, traditional leaders and civil servants

2010 How No.
21 Sept. Maiduguri Local chief MC 1
6 Oct. Maiduguri Awana Ali Ngala VP All Nigerian Peoples Party 1
20 Oct. Kashim Bukar Police Inspector Shot 1
29 Dec. Maiduguri 8
28 Jan. Modu Fannami Godio Gubernatorial opposition candidate All Nigeria Peoples Party MC 1
27 March Gwange Alhaji Fannami Gana Makanike Ward 2 chair ANPP MC 1
29 March Maiduguri ANPP election rally Foiled
12 May Abba Anas bin ‘Umar

Modu Fannami Godio

17 Sept. Babakura Alhaji Fugu Brother-in-law of Yusuf By BH
15 Oct. Maiduguri Ali Banga Leader Borno State Vigilante Assoc. MC 1
16 Oct. Zakariyya Isa Reporter (informer?) MC 1
16 Oct. Modu Bintube Borno State House rep. MC 1
3 Nov. Sanda Umar Konduga BH MC 1
15 Nov. Maiduguri State Gov. Shettima MC 1


9 Oct. Outside home Sheik Bashir Mustapha

Bashir Kasara

Muslim scholar

Eminent Wahabi personage





19 Nov. Mosque during Juam‘at prayer MC 3
12 March Outside home Ahmad Abdullahi Bolori Cleric vs violence MC 1


11 May Outside home Sheik Goni Tijjani

Mallam Alhaji Abur

Cleric critical of BH MC 1


6 June Outside home Ibrahim Birkuti Cleric critical of BH MC 1
4 Sept. Outside home Malam Dal Cleric critical of BH MC 1
29 Oct. Outside home Sheikh Ali Jana’a Cleric critical of BH MC 1


19 Jan. Deeper Life Christian Church Pastor & 3 neighbours MC 4
7 June Maduguri Church and 2 police posts bomb 14
4 Nov, churches bombs 63
25 Dec. Nigeria churches bombs Very many


2010 Dead Injured
10 Oct. Traditional Islamic school beheaded 10-yr.-old
24 Dec. Abuja



9 bombs



29 Dec. Abuja Teaching Hospital 1 police

2 civilians

29 Dec. Abuja RelaxationCentre bomb 8
30 Jan. Maiduguri Police guarding dam firefight 2 BH
7 March Dogo Nachawa Villages – Zot & Tatsat Frontal assault 200
4 April Babaji & Sadi Babaji prevented killing of police Revenge MC 2 7 children
8 April Yahaya Premature explosion bomb bomber
9 April Maiduguri Unguwar Doki polling station

Ind. Nat’l Electoral polling tn.




21 April Kaduna 1 3 bombers
22 April Kaduna Bomb-making factory
2. May Bwari Peace corps offices bomb 3
1 June Kaduna Gonin Gora Market bomb foiled
26 Aug. Abuja UN compound Car bomb 200 (?) hundreds
6 Oct Mob 2 BH
10 Oct. bomb 1
3 Dec. Maiduguri 2
6 Dec Kaduna Block of shops & apartments bomb 8
28 Dec. Mubi beer parlour 15


13 Feb.
botched 1 BH
30 April trader MC 1
12 Sept. Misau Bauchi State bank assault 4 police

3 civilians

2 Oct. 3 traders MC 3
10 Oct. Police guarding bank 1
4 Dec. Bauchi state 2 banks + 2 police stns, 3

Tomorrow 2012-2014