The Protracted Survival of Boko Haram From a Revolutionary Warfare Perspective
Volume 21, Issue 1 (2023), pp. 85–125
Pub. online: 29 December 2023 Type: Article Open Access
29 December 2023
29 December 2023
Since 2009 Boko Haram has been carrying out terrorist attacks in the northeastern part of Nigeria. In 2015 the group was seen as the world‘s deadliest terrorist organization, however, due to internal disagreements in 2016, Boko Haram split into two factions, namely the Islamic State – West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād (JAS), which is still often referred to by its original name – Boko Haram. While the competition between these factions made way for the Nigerian government to retake formerly lost territories, attacks from Boko Haram continue, and government forces have yet to fully quell the insurgency. This article surveys the protracted survival of Boko Haram through their operating practices by basing itself on the two primary models of revolutionary warfare (people’s war by Mao Zedong and Foquismo by Che Guevara). It takes note of the similarities between traditional revolutionary and contemporary jihadist ways of thought. Despite these similarities, crucial distinctions can also be made between the two factions of Boko Haram in order to explain their comparatively different levels of success. The article is divided into 3 primary bodies, each examining one of the three pillars (ideological, popular-support and military) that are required for a successful revolution. Comparisons between ISWAP and JAS are made in each section. Finally, the addition and comparison of the results stemming from each part are summarized and aid in trying to understand the protracted survival of Boko Haram.