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In Nigeria, Boko Haram Is Not the Problem

GOVERNMENTS and newspapers around the world attributed the horrific Christmas Day bombings of churches in Nigeria to "Boko Haram" - a shadowy group that is routinely described as an extremist Islamist organization based in the northeast corner of Nigeria. Indeed, since the May inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta in the country's south, Boko Haram has been blamed for virtually every outbreak of violence in Nigeria.

But the news media and American policy makers are chasing an elusive and ill-defined threat; there is no proof that a well-organized, ideologically coherent terrorist group called Boko Haram even exists today. Evidence suggests instead that, while the original core of the group remains active, criminal gangs have adopted the name Boko Haram to claim responsibility for attacks when it suits them.

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