Officially named People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad, Boko Haram has been fighting a three-year long insurgency to replace the current secular constitution of Nigeria with Islamic sharia law. Arguing against Western influences – the nickname “Boko Haram” means “Western education is a sin” – Boko Haram has attacked Christian churches, state universities, state police installations, poker halls, and even international aid organizations such as the UN headquarters in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, killing more than 1,000 people, with 308 people killed in 2011 alone.
Few would argue that Boko Haram fits the definition of a terrorist group. Boko Haram has recently shifted its fighting techniques from Al-Capone-style shoot-outs to more sophisticated suicide bombings and improvised explosive devices. It is this new technology, more than actual paper trails, that leads some security experts to believe that Boko Haram has made links to Al Qaeda through other affiliates such as the Algerian based Al Qaeda in the Islamic lands of the Maghreb and the Somalia-based Al Shabab.
To help the Nigerian military counter insurgent groups like Boko Haram, the US Army’s Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, has offered logistics and counterinsurgency training from US special operations force trainers, much as AFRICOM has done in the past for other West African states such as Mali.