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Boko Haram: An Assessment of Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Policy Options

The Islamist group Jama'atu Ahl as‐Sunnah li‐Da'awati wal‐Jihad, commonly referred to as Boko Haram,
has emerged as a violent challenger to the authority of the Nigerian state. The National Consortium for
the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) was tasked with examining Boko Haram in
support of the U.S. Engagement Options in Sub‐Saharan Africa project, funded and coordinated by the
Strategic Multilayer Assessment Office (SMA) of the Department of Defense. Specifically, START explored
the following research questions:
1. What are Boko Haram’s strengths and potential vulnerabilities?
2. What policies can be employed to counter Boko Haram’s strengths and exploit its weaknesses?
3. What are USAFRICOM options for engaging U.S. government and foreign partners to deploy
policies to counter Boko Haram?
This report is structured as follows. First, the methodology for the study is outlined. Background
information on Nigeria, including a focus on the development of Islamist movements in the country, is
then provided. The report then turns to a deep descriptive analysis of Boko Haram. Following an analysis
of current policies deployed by Nigerian and international actors to counter Boko Haram, the report
provides an assessment of options for policy engagement by AFRICOM and other U.S. actors.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Pate, Amy. "Boko Haram: An Assessment of Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Policy Options." Report to the Strategic Multilayer Assessment Office, Department of Defense, and the Office of University Programs, Department of Homeland Security. College Park MD: START, January 2014. www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_%20SMA-AFRICOM_Boko%20Haram%20Deep%20Dive_Jan2015.pdf

START Author(s):