With much of the world’s attention focused on ISIS (or Daesh, if you prefer) following several high profile attacks, most notably in Paris and Beirut, there is another major terrorist organization that has actually surpassed them in deadliness: Boko Haram. Boko Haram has primarily been operating out of Nigeria, but have conducted operations across Northern Africa. While the two organizations have pledged allegiance to one another, they have some key differences that go beyond simple geography.
ISIS was responsible for an estimated 6,073 deaths in 2014, while Boko Haram killed some 6,644 peopled during that period. This makes Boko Haram far deadlier, despite the fact that they receive less attention from the western media.
On Nov. 17, Boko Haram conducted yet another bombing in Nigeria, one in which dozens of people were killed and scores more injured. While this attack shouldn’t overshadow the one in Paris, it still brings this year’s death toll of Nigerians to numbers that France and other western nations could never possibly match.
Nigeria is suffering the brunt of Boko Haram’s violence with more than 5,000 people killed in 2014 in that nation alone (more than the United States lost on Sept. 11). In addition, the terrorist organization has gained notoriety for the kidnapping of schoolgirls to sell into slavery. The most infamous case involved nearly 300 girls last year. Many of the victims were never heard from again.
While neither ISIS nor Boko Haram have any qualms about using slavery, another similarity between them is their aversion to education–Boko Haram actually translates to roughly “no western education.” ISIS has also actively been fighting against furthering humanity’s knowledge by completely destroying important archeological sites in the Middle East.
So why does ISIS garner so much attention on the world stage while Boko Haram stories pop up every so often before quickly being forgotten? The answer is as simple as it is revealing: people in the west care less about Northern Africa than they do the Middle East.
The fact that the Paris attacks got so much attention in the United States and the world as a whole illustrates this perfectly, as there have been nearly 300 terrorist attacks worldwide this year alone. To be sure, the Paris ones this past weekend were the deadliest, but the fact remains that attacks in western, especially white nations get more attention overall. This fact has not been lost on many who complain that the world has a certain pecking order, and Africa and the Middle East fall toward the bottom of that order.
That fact alone is one of the major contributing causes for terrorist organizations gaining power in many areas. It’s no secret that ISIS, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, as well as its sister organization, the Taliban, were supported by western nations like the United States at one time or another.
While the causes are many and complex, the solutions are even more so. A full scale invasion could exacerbate the situation, but doing nothing will certainly not help either. Sadly it seems we are stuck with these brutal groups for the long haul.