“Motivations and Empty Promises”: Voices of Former Boko Haram Combatants and Nigerian Youth

A school in Maiduguri now being used as an IDP camp

Since 2009, Northeastern Nigeria’s Boko Haram has killed nearly 17,000 and displaced nearly 2.2 million in its quest for an Islamic caliphate. Yet interviews with former youth members suggest many initially joined for strategic reasons, not religious ones. The former members had diverse demographic backgrounds and often joined through friends or colleagues in order to get business support or as a result of frustration with government inadequacy. As Boko Haram has become increasingly violent, corrupt, and hypocritical, the narratives that served as their recruiting tools are being steadily undermined and an opportunity has opened for the government to claim greater legitimacy.

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Security Topics: Countering Violent Extremism