Boko Haram emir Abubakar Shekau, from a propaganda tape.
Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist terror group that has been linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Shabaab, killed 11 people in an attack today on a church at a military base in Kaduna. The Nigerian terror group has carried out 19 suicide attacks so far this year; many have targeted churches and mosques.
A Boko Haram suicide bomber rammed a bus packed with explosives into the church during services at the Jaji military barracks in Kaduna state, military officers told Reuters. Ten minutes later, as people were assisting the wounded, a suicide bomber in a Toyota Camry detonated in front of the church. Over 30 people were injured in the blasts, according to the military.
Boko Haram has intentionally attacked churches on Sundays during services in order to kill as many Christians as possible. Earlier this year, Boko Haram stated that it seeks “to eradicate Christians” from areas in Nigeria. The group has repeatedly targeted Christians at churches, especially on religious holidays.
So far this year, Boko Haram has carried out at least 19 suicide attacks [see list below]. The targets have included churches, mosques, newspapers, government officials, and security forces. The terror group also conducted several other suicide attacks in previous years; the most high-profile suicide attack targeted the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in August 2011.
Today’s suicide attack takes place just two days after the Nigerian military offered rewards for information leading to the arrest of Boko Haram’s top leaders. The military offered $312,500 for the group’s emir, Abubakar Shekau; $156,000 each for four senior leaders; and $62,500 for 14 commanders. In June, the US added Shekau to its list of global terrorists, along with Khalid al Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kamba, both of whom have ties to Boko Haram and close links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Ten days ago, the military claimed it killed Ibn Saleh Ibrahim, a senior commander who is the lead suspect in last month’s assassination of retired war hero General Mohammed Shuwa, along with six of Ibrahim’s lieutenants during a raid in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Boko Haram has not yet commented on whether Ibrahim, who has been described as “invincible,” was killed.
Boko Haram has striven to become a player in the global jihad. Its fighters are known to fight in Mali with al Qaeda-linked groups, and its members have trained with Shabaab. The terror group has also expanded its propaganda efforts to show solidarity with al Qaeda and its affiliates. In July 2010, Boko Haram emir Abubakar Shekau issued an online statement praising al Qaeda and offering condolences to al Qaeda of Iraq for its loss of Abu Ayyub al Masri and Abu Omar al Baghdadi. He also threatened the United States.
“Do not think jihad is over,” Shekau said. “Rather jihad has just begun. O America, die with your fury.”
Documents seized at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan showed that top-level Boko Haram leaders have been in touch with al Qaeda, according to The Guardian. Boko Haram is known to receive support from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate in East Africa.
Boko Haram suicide attacks in 2012:
- Nov. 25, 2012 – A suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed bus into a church at a military base in Kaduna, followed by a suicide bomber in a car outside the church; the blasts killed 11 people and wounded over 30.
- Oct. 28, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed jeep into a Catholic church in Kadun, killing at least eight people and wounding over 100.
- Sept. 23, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed a woman and a child in an attack at a Catholic church in Bauchi.
- Aug. 15, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed three civilians in a failed attempt to target a vehicle belonging to the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri.
- Aug. 5, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed five soldiers in an attack in Damaturu.
- Aug. 3, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber wounded several people in a failed attack outside of a mosque in Potiskum.
- July 30, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed a policeman in an attack at a government office in Sokoto.
- July 13, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed five people in an attack at a mosque in Maiduguri.
- June 17, 2012 – Boko Haram killed 48 people suicide attacks on churches in Kaduna and Zaria. The terror group claimed credit for the attacks, calling them a “victory against Christian Churches in Kaduna and Zaria which led to the deaths of many Christians and security operatives.” Three other churches were bombed on June 17.
- June 10, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed three people in an attack outside a church in Jos.
- June 8, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed four people an attack outside a police station in Maiduguri.
- June 3, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 15 people an attack on a church in Bauchi.
- April 30, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 11 people and wounded more than 20 in an attack on a police convoy in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba state.
- April 26, 2012 – The editor of ThisDay confirmed that a suicide bomber drove a jeep into the newspaper’s office in Abuja, killing two people.
- April 8, 2012 – Boko Haram killed 36 people and wounded dozens more in several bombings outside of a church in Kaduna on Easter day.
- March 11, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed three civilians in a bombing outside of a church in Jos. The suicide bomber was stopped before he could enter the compound.
- Feb. 26, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed six Christians during an attack at a church in Jos.
- Jan. 21, 2012 – Boko Haram killed more than 140 people during a series of blasts, including a suicide bombing, and shootings in Kano. Boko Haram claimed credit for the attacks, which targeted police and immigration buildings.