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The leader of Boko Haram: Abubakar Shekau

Updated on January 30, 2015


Name: Abubakar Shekau

Also Known by: Imam Abu Bakr Shiku, Abubakar Shakkau, Abu Bakr Skikwa, Abu Muhammad Abu Bakr Bin Muhammad Al Shakwi Al Muslimi Bishku

Dates of Birth: ? 1965, 1969, 1975

Place of birth: Shekau village Yobe Sate Nigeria and possibly Niger

Height: Tall

Hair: Black

Eyes: black

Sex: Male

Complexion: dark

Ethnicity: Kanuri

Languages: Arabic, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri

Religion: Sunni Islam, Wahhabism

Education: attended Borno State College of Legal and Islamic studies and claims to have studied under traditional cleric

Organization: Boko Haram

Position: Imam (leader)

Predecessor: Mohammed Yusuf

Goal: Boko Haram means western education is forbidden. The group started relatively peaceful until its original leader was killed while in police custody. At this point the more radical Abubakar Shekau took over leadership and took the organization down its violent path. The goal is to create an Islamic State in Nigeria governed by Sharia Law.

Funds under his control: While there is no available figure Boko Haram is thought to have made millions off of ransom, drug trafficking, sex trade, and animal poaching.

Area under control: parts of Nigerian states Borno, Yobe, Adamawa. Up to 70% of Borno lost to insurgents.

Fighters under command: 20,000

Bounty: $7 Million

Description: Radical Islamic leader who has capitalized on situational mismanagement by the Nigerian government by launching a brutal insurgency that has rocked the north east portion of the country all within in months of the African nation’s presidential elections. He is a visible face to the group and is known for his arrogant videos. He leads the group that is known mostly for kidnapping 300 school girls whom he latter reportedly having sold off as sex slaves. The groups is also known to have carried out suicide bombings and other insurgent operations that have lead to approximately 3,000 causalities. While initially keeping its operations confined to Nigeria Boko Haram has started operations in Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Allies and Enemies


Islamic State of the Levant (ISIS)


The Movement of Oneness and Jihad In West Africa

al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb





African Union



African Union

United Kingdom



United States

Ways to stop Boko Haram

Boko Haram has proven to be a daunting foe for Nigeria. The group has given Nigeria a run for its money despite Nigeria having a force 130,000 personnel compared to Boko Harams 20,000. Boko Harams success stems from its experienced fighting force which it recruits from neighboring radical Islamic organizations. Nigeria could captilize on the strength it has in numbers and surge the Borno state easily overwhelming Boko Haram.

Nigeria has an asset at its disposal that Boko Haram dosent have an air force. Nigeria has 12 fighters an 8 attack helicopters at its disposal. While certainly not an overwhelming air force it would be a valuable asset in stopping Boko Haram. Furthermore the Nigerian air force has a variety of different transport helicopters which would allot it to easily out maneuver Boko Haram troops.

One consideration would be to hire military contractors. Many military contracting firms employ skilled experienced former military personnel and are very well equipped. Employing a military contractor brings an experienced faction that will combat Boko Haram as has a lot more freedom in how to combat the group. Many military contracting firms have had experience battling Islamic radical organizations in Iraq and Afganistan. While the price tag would definitely be high Nigeria which is one of the world fasting growing economies could afford it. It gives Nigeria the opportunity to bring experienced military support without to much western intervention allowing Nigeria to handle the problem and not allowing its former colonial influences a door back into its affairs.

why does it matter?

Stopping Boko Haram should be a priority of the international community. One reason is that Nigeria is the 12th largest oil producer in the world and the 8th largest exporter. Instability in Nigeria will upset the worlds economy. Also it is one of the worlds emerging economies. It is currently the largest economy in Africa and by 2050 is expected to be one of the worlds to 20 economies. The Boko Haram crisis has possibly stifled Nigerias economic growth. Unrest such as this causes possible investors to think twice. Nigerias future hangs on how this situation is handled. If not handled in a fast and efficient manner the future will be bleak.


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