And the world’s deadliest terrorist organization is …

Boko Haram ISIL

The Institute for Economics and Peace has recently published the Global Terrorism Index 2015. One of its main conclusions is that Boko Haram has surpassed ISIL as the world’s deadliest terrorist group.

Bellow you’ll find excerpts of the report, pertaining to the group that operates in Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin region:

  • Two groups are responsible for half the deaths from terrorism — Boko Haram and ISIL. Fifty-one per cent of terrorist deaths that are attributed to a terrorist group were by Boko Haram and ISIL.
  • Nigeria has experienced the largest increase in deaths from terrorism in 2014. There were 7,512 fatalities from terrorist attacks in 2014, an increase of over 300 per cent. The country houses two of the five most deadly terrorist groups in 2014; Boko Haram and the Fulani militants.
  • Deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 317 per cent in 2014 to 6,644. ISIL was responsible for 6,073 terrorist deaths.
  • Due to the increase in deadliness of Boko Haram, Nigeria now has the second highest number of deaths, behind Iraq.

Boko Haram was responsible for the world’s third most fatal terrorist attack in 2014: in 5 May 2014,militants attacked residents and buildings with firearms and explosive devices in Gomboru Ngala town. At least 315 people were killed, an unknown number were injured, and numerous buildings were destroyed.

Boko Haram has also been encroaching in neighbouring countries (namely Cameroon) and with worrying implications:

From 2000 until 2013 Cameroon recorded no deaths from terrorism and (…) [i}n 2014 Cameroon had 530 deaths (…).


  • Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIL (also known as the Islamic State) as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in March 2015.


  • Nigeria’s terrorism is more diverse [than ISIL in the Middle East], with two major groups, Boko Haram and Fulani militants, having different aims and drivers.
  • There have been reports of a link between Boko Haram and Fulani militants, particularly in regards to smuggling and organised crime. However, unlike Boko Haram who are now affiliated with ISIL and align with the establishment of a caliphate, the Fulani militants have very localised goals, mainly greater access to grazing lands for livestock.


The new president, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Nigerian Army major general, has made the reduction of corruption and the defeat of Boko Haram as his main priorities. The new government will provide a change in the country’s strategic approach to these groups.

Unlikely to bear fruits. In fact,

[a]ny successful approach will need to deal effectively with the terrorist groups while also addressing the underlying drivers of conflict in the country.

“Easy to say, but hard to do”. There are no easy solutions.

Further readings:

Sobre Gustavo Plácido

An independent political and security risk analyst focused on Lusophone Sub-Saharan Africa. He covers Angola and Mozambique for Horizon Client Access.
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