At a Glance | May 21

Hackensack Man Charged in Threat to Blow Up Bergen County Courthouse; Gunman Charged With Capital Murder After Killing 10, Injuring Several Others at Texas High School; Woman Killed, Three People Injured in Explosion at Office Building in California

Boko Haram


  • Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is forbidden,” is an Islamic extremist organization based in northeastern Nigeria that pledged allegiance to ISIS in March 2015. In August 2016, ISIS unilaterally announced that Abu Musab al-Barnawi would replace Abubakar Shekau as the leader of Boko Haram. Shekau refused to cede authority, and Boko Haram militants remain factionalized in their loyalties.
  • Since 2009, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million. In 2014, the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from a village in northeastern Nigeria. In October 2016, 22 of the schoolgirls were rescued following negotiations with the Nigerian government, 83 more were freed in May 2017, and an additional 57 escaped as of September 2017.
  • Boko Haram fatalities remained relatively consistent, from 3,484 in 2016 to 3,329 in 2017, according to research from BBC Monitoring. The group reportedly carried out 150 attacks in 2017, up from the 127 attacks in 2016, defying Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that the militants have been defeated. Nigeria was the most frequently attacked location in 2017, with armed assault as the most common attack method.
  • In November 2014, a regional Multinational Joint Task Force consisting of approximately 8,700 military personnel from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria was established to combat Boko Haram. Currently, there is considerable skepticism in the international community that the force can deliver results, as the group continues to operate within these countries.

Threat to New Jersey: Low

Boko Haram has never conducted an attack in the United States and is largely focused on kidnapping Westerners in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. Further, Boko Haram’s operational capability is limited due to group infighting since pledging allegiance to ISIS.

  • Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for at least five kidnappings of Westerners since 2012. In July 2017, Boko Haram insurgents ambushed an oil exploration team in northeastern Nigeria, kidnapping at least 10 and killing more than 50. Following the kidnapping, the group released a video in English showing three abductees asking viewers to meet the captors’ demands. In 2017, Boko Haram, to buy weapons and recruit fighters, used ransom money that the Nigerian government paid to free 83 Chibok schoolgirls.
  • In September 2016, militants loyal to ISIS-appointed al-Barnawi clashed with those loyal to Shekau, resulting in the death of several key members of Shekau’s faction. ISIS and Boko Haram both claimed responsibility for approximately 13 of 151 attacks carried out by Boko Haram in 2017, suggesting operational links between the two groups are weak. The disparate nature of Boko Haram may make it difficult for ISIS to issue claims, as it cannot verify which faction is behind an attack.

US Nexus

Boko Haram is unlikely to inspire homegrown violent extremists in the United States because of its prioritization of local Nigerian issues over global extremist narratives and its focus on carrying out attacks locally. Although the group has only attacked US interests regionally, the US Government has expressed concern that the threat from the group could spread to justify military action.

  • Boko Haram’s media outreach focuses exclusively on regional issues, including criticism of the Nigerian government, calls for violence against civilians, and demands for an Islamic state in Nigeria. The group’s language does not include any encouragement of Westerners to travel and join its ranks.
  • In March 2017, Nigerian authorities disrupted an alleged Boko Haram-orchestrated plot to attack the US and British embassies in the capital city of Abuja. Five suspects were arrested after they “perfected plans” for the attack.
  • In June 2017, a letter was sent to Congress outlining current US Armed Forces deployments, including Cameroon, where “approximately 300 US military personnel are also deployed, the bulk of whom are supporting US airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations” on Boko Haram fighters. This deployment marks the most direct US involvement to date in the campaign against Boko Haram.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.

At a Glance | May 14

Arkansas Man Arrested After 16 Homemade Explosive Devices Seized by Authorities; South Carolina Man Tried to Hire White Supremacists to Kill African-American Neighbor; ADL Report Finds 4.2 Million Anti-Semitic Posts on Twitter During One-Year Period

At a Glance | May 7

ISIS Sympathizer Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole in Killing of NJ College Student; Teen Arrested for Plotting ISIS-Inspired Shooting at Dallas-Area Shopping Mall; Two Men Found Guilty of Beating an African-American Man in Charlottesville Parking Garage

Al-Qa’ida and ISIS Reference Guide

Al-Qa’ida and ISIS leverage a number of communication platforms to disseminate English-language propaganda in order to recruit sympathizers and inspire attacks globally. This reference guide can assist our law enforcement partners in the identification and recognition of imagery related to these groups.

At a Glance | April 30

Suspect in Nashville Restaurant Shooting That Resulted in 4 Deaths Charged With Criminal Homicide; 10 Killed When Driver of Rented Van Hits Pedestrians on Crowded Sidewalk in Toronto; Phillipsburg White Supremacist Group Founder Admits Conspiring to Distribute Drugs

Toronto Vehicle-Ramming Attack

A Canadian intentionally drove a rented van onto a sidewalk in Toronto on April 23, killing 10 and injuring at least 15. The incident remains under investigation. Authorities have not yet disclosed any motive of the driver, identified as Alek Minassian; however, they believe there is no nexus to terrorism. This is Canada’s fourth vehicle-ramming incident since 2014.

Black Separatist Extremists

Black Separatist Extremists

Black separatist extremists are individuals or groups that seek to establish an independent nation for people of African descent through force or violence. These groups claim superiority over whites, are typically anti-Semitic, and oppose integration and racial intermarriage. 

At a Glance | April 23

Hackensack Man Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison for Social Media Threats Directed at School, Judge; Three Kansas Men Convicted in Bomb Plot Targeting Somali Immigrants; ATF Confident Explosives Stolen From Pennsylvania Pipeline Work Site Have Been Recovered

Sovereign Citizen Extremists

Sovereign citizen extremists throughout the United States view federal, state, and local governments as illegitimate, lacking the authority to issue or enforce laws. They also assert they are not subject to questioning or arrest by law enforcement, paying taxes and fines, complying with summonses, or possessing official licenses.

At a Glance | April 16

Wisconsin Man Killed in Apartment Explosion Suspected of Building ISIS-Style Bombs; Ridgewood Doctor Accused of Possessing Bomb-Making Materials Faces Retrial on Weapons Charges; Retailer Fires Employee After White Supremacist Propaganda Found in Diaper Boxes

At a Glance | April 9

Three Injured, Suspected Gunman Killed in Shooting at YouTube Headquarters in California; 11-Year-Old Suspected in Neptune Walmart Bomb Threat Inspired by Video Showing Similar Incident; Report Finds Similar Themes in Backgrounds of Individuals Who Committed Mass Attacks in 2017

At a Glance | April 2

Man Accused of Carrying Stolen NYPD Body Armor, Loaded Handgun Arrested in Chicago; Seattle Man Admits He Committed Armed Robbery After Terror-Inspired Killing of Livingston Native; Utah Teen Charged With Planting Backpack Bomb at High School

Militia Extremists

Militia extremists pose a moderate threat to New Jersey because of fundraising and recruitment efforts in the State, violent involvement in protests and standoffs across the United States, and their ability to coordinate and organize on a national scale.

At a Glance | March 26

Suspected Serial Bomber in Texas Capital Kills Himself, Leaves ‘Confession’ Video; Franklin Township Teen Charged With Bringing Loaded Semi-Automatic Handgun to School; Suspected Gunman, Student Killed in Shooting at Maryland High School