Stewart Scott

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, issued a warning Nov. 5 indicating it had received intelligence that the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram may have been planning to bomb several targets in the Nigerian capital during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as Eid al-Kabir, celebrated Nov. 6-8. The warning specifically mentioned the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels as potential targets.

The warning came in the wake of a string of bombings and armed attacks Nov. 4 in the cities of Maiduguri, Damaturu and Potiskum, all of which are located in Nigeria’s northeast. An attack also occurred in the north-central Nigerian city of Kaduna. The sites targeted in the wave of attacks included a military base in Maiduguri and the anti-terrorism court building in Damaturu. Militants reportedly attacked these two sites with suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). The Nigerian Red Cross reported that more than 100 people were killed in the attacks, while some media reports claimed the death toll was at least 150.

According to AFP, a spokesman for Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks Nov. 5 and threatened more attacks targeting the Nigerian government until “security forces stop persecuting our members and vulnerable civilians.” On Nov. 7, a Boko Haram spokesman claimed that his group employed only two suicide operatives in the attacks and not 12 as reported by some media outlets.

Though Eid al-Kabir passed without attacks on Western hotels in Abuja, a deeper examination of Boko Haram is called for, with a specific focus on its rapidly evolving tactical capabilities.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful” in Hausa, was established in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state. It has since spread to several other northern and central Nigerian states. The group officially is known as Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, Arabic for “group committed to propagating the Prophet’s teachings and jihad.” Some in the country have referred to Boko Haram as the Nigerian Taliban in reference to the group’s call for Shariah throughout Nigeria. (At present, only the northern part of the country adheres to Shariah.) In June, a spokesman claiming to represent Boko Haram amended this demand, instead calling for what the group defines as a stricter form of Shariah in the northern Nigerian states where Shariah already is the law.


Stewart Scott

Stewart Scott is a security analyst for Stratfor.