The group known as Boko Haram is said to have emerged in 2002 under the leadership of Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri.Yusuf had a strict, fundamentalist interpretation of the Qur’an and believed that the creation of Nigeria by British colonialists had imposed a Western and un-Islamic way of life on Muslims.
He set up a religious complex, which included a mosque and an Islamic school.Many poor Muslim families from across Nigeria, as well as neighbouring countries, enrolled their children at the school.But Boko Haram was not only interested in education. Its political goal was to create an Islamic state, and the school became a recruiting ground for jihadis.
The most commonly accepted translation of the name “Boko Haram” in the indigenous lingua franca Hausa, is: “Western education is forbidden”. Boko originally means fake but came to signify Western education, while haram means forbidden. It has also been translated as “Western influence is a sin” and “Westernization is sacrilege”
The group’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”.