Keeping Tabs On Terrorism: 4 Of The World’s Deadliest Militant Organizations

16 years ago, following the September 11 attack in New York, former POTUS George W. Bush declared the beginnings of a “Global War on Terrorism”.

The war continues to this day.

Between 2006 and 2016, 216,915 lives, a majority of them civilian, were claimed by terrorist organizations acting through armed attacks, bombings, and abductions.

Here’s an introduction to 4 of the deadliest.

1. Boko Haram

Formed in Nigeria by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad organization was initially focused on opposing Western education.

The name it is more commonly known by, Boko Haram, was given to it by the residents of Maiduguri, where the group had its headquarters.

Boko originally meant fake but came to signify Western education, and haram means “forbidden” in the region’s Hausa language.

But it would seem that education was only a front for the organization, whose political goal was to create an Islamic state. The “school” became a recruiting ground for jihadis and in 2009, military operations were launched.

Boko Haram’s original modus operandi was the use of gunmen on motorbikes who killed anyone who criticised it. Later on, their attacks grew more audacious and more widespread.

In April 2014, Boko Haram received international condemnation when it abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, adding that it would treat them as slaves and marry them off as war booty.

Besides looting and killing and recruiting by force, the group’s fighters have also launched attacks across borders in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.

Between 2000 to 2014, Boko Haram was responsible for 558 attacks.

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In August 2014, the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, flanked by masked fighters and carrying a machine gun, declared a caliphate in areas under Boko Haram’s control.

He later pledged the group’s allegiance to ISIS, who accepted and acknowledged the territory under Boko Haram’s control as being part of the global caliphate it was trying to establish.

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An offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State group, or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), as it was formerly called, was created in April 2013.

It became the focus of international attention in 2014 when it declared its “caliphate” in large territories of Syria and Iraq.

The organization demanded that Muslims across the world swear allegiance to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – and migrate to territory under its control.

It also demanded that other jihadist groups accept its supreme authority.

Since then, the organization has gained widespread notoriety for its brutality; conducting and inspiring terrorist attacks in countries across the globe, including mass killings, abductions, and beheadings.

Besides the thousands of people dead, countless more have been injured, enslaved, forcibly converted, tortured and displaced.

Between 2000 to 2014, the IS was responsible for 757 attacks.

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Viewing it as the harbinger of a prophesied apocalyptic showdown against their enemies, the organization has even welcomed the prospect of direct confrontation with a US-led coalition.

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3. Al-Qaeda

Since its was formed in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden, Dr Fadl and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the three cornerstones of al-Qaeda’s doctrine have remained pretty much the same: to unite the world’s Muslim population under sharia; to liberate the “holy lands” from the “Zionist-Crusader” alliance, and to alleviate perceived economic and social injustices.

Fadl’s book, al-‘Umda fi I’dad al-‘Udda, was the intellectual foundation for al-Qaeda’s murderous campaign.

It was even used as a jihad manual in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, where recruits were trained in the use of various weapons and undercover work.

In 1996, bin Laden issued a declaration of jihad against the United States and its allies.

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Since then, Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for dozens of major attacks; the most brutal of all, of course, being 9/11 that left nearly 3,000 people dead.

Between 2000 to 2014, it was responsible for 400 attacks in Iraq and another 103 attacks in the Arabian peninsula.

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4. The Taliban

This long-established organization was born from the ashes of the nine-year Soviet-Afghan War that ended in February 1989.

By 1994, the fighting had reduced much of Kabul to rubble. Encouraged by Mullah Mohammed Omar, a one-eyed Muslim cleric, Afghan students, or ṭālibān (as they’re called in Pashto), took up arms to take back control.

In 1996, the Taliban successfully captured Kabul and hung former President Mohammad Najibullah.
In October 1999, they took Mazar-i-Sharif.

They ordered religious minorities to wear tags identifying them as non-Muslims; forced women to veil themselves, and conducted mass arrests and executions of Shia Muslims, especially those that belonged to the Hazara ethnic group.
The banned the use of the internet, playing cards, movies, satellite TV, musical instruments and chess boards.

Then on September 20th, 2001, the former POTUS George Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and close its terrorist training camps, or face the consequences.

In response, the organization called for a jihad against the US.

Since 2001, over 173,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From suicide bombing to drug and human trafficking to execution and extortion, the Taliban’s activities need little introduction.

But what is it that the organization really wants?

“We ask from the beginning”, said a Taliban spokesperson in 2009, “and we say once again: to enforce the sharia law and Islamic government in Afghanistan, and to remove foreign forces from our country.”

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Amanda Francesca Mendonça

After spending pretty much all of my teen years waiting for a Hogwarts letter that never came, I gave up and settled for being a wizard with words instead. A hopeless romantic, when I’m not penning down short stories, I’m busy imagining my own happily ever after.

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