Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review -- Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith

Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy WarBoko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher I.B. Tauris and the author Mike Smith for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Somalia and Nigeria are two hotspots of trouble in Africa. One affected by piracy and the other by militant Islamism. I don't believe in the fundamentalist interpretation of any religion. IMO it is just an excuse to cover bloodthirsty behavior. Islam is a peaceful religion, none of my friends who practice Islam subscribe to the school of thought propagated by the fundamentalist. It is their own greed for power that makes them cloak their fight in the garb of religion to give it legitimacy.

Boko Haram is no different. Emerging through the crucible of Nigeria's impoverished North east region, Boko Haram is using religion to cloak its bloodthirstiness. Mike Smith has forged a convincing tale of emergence of this terror group from its initial years under radical preacher Mohammad Yusuf, the Boko Haram group was based on the Wahabi ideology. Initially attracting followers with his fiery speeches and opposition to Nigerian government rules and thoughts, the group evolved into a ultra conservative terror outfit after Yusufs death and the emergence of his deputy Abubakar Shekhau as the new leader of the group.

Nigeria is a important country in African continent. It has a semblance of democracy and is oil rich. This makes it the de facto leader for growth, prosperity and stability in the African region which is inundated with myriad problems like famine, poverty and ethnic conflicts. Nigeria's is too divided between an impoverished and reeling under the aegis of Boko Haram North and the relatively affluent South with its oil riches. Overall the country is still in doldrums due to deep rooted corruptions and the lack of political will in the Nigerian leadership to grow the country.

The schism between the top elite of the country and the poor is exploited by Boko Haram. Denouncing the government the group emerged initially as trying the overthrow the government to replace it with Islamic Caliphate. But the methods and the legacy left behind by the group is too bloody and too gory to justify any teachings of Islam and the group remains as a terrorist organization in its entirety.

Mike Smith spins a cohesive story about the emergence of the group, the growth under Yusuf, the downturn after Yusuf's death and their bloody reemergence under the aegis of Shekau. It gives insights into the cultural, economic and social crucible that is Nigeria which has forged one of the most deadliest terror outfits in the world today.


  1. Gopal, outstanding review. Incredibly sad situation.

  2. Yes Chris!! Sadly humans triumph over humanity every time.