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Unmasking Boko Haram: Exploring Global Jihad in Nigeria

Jacob Zenn
Unmasking Boko Haram: Exploring Global Jihad in Nigeria
ISBN: 978-1-62637-878-0
ISBN: 978-1-62637-893-3
2020/415 pages/LC: 2019055149
Published in association with the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews

Also of interest: Policing and Politics in Nigeria: A Comprehensive History by Akali Omeni

"Without doubt essential reading." —Folahanmi Aina, International Affairs

"A vital contribution to the broader academic literature explicating linkages between local and regional/global jihadists." —Suranjan Weeraratne, Politics, Religion & Ideology

"An indispensable resource for those interested in the Boko Haram phenomenon." —Imrana Buba, South African Journal of International Affairs

"Zenn delivers a pathbreaking study of jihadism in Africa in general and in Nigeria in particular.... [His] book goes far beyond any previous analysis of Boko Haram." —Sebastian Elischer, Perspectives on Politics

"By far the most richly textured piece of scholarship to emerge on Boko Haram to date.... [A] tremendous contribution." —Hannah Wild, Terrorism and Political Violence

"An important contribution to the study of this significant West African insurgency." —Will Reno, Small Wars & Insurgencies

"A comprehensive, detailed and authoritative account of the origins and current activities of Boko Haram."—Joshua Sinai, Perspectives on Terrorism

"A comprehensive and extensive overview of the ‘Boko Haram phenomenon’ and its consequences.... This book [is] an indispensable piece of academic research." —Riccardo Valle, Critical Studies on Terrorism

"Provides rare and much needed insight into the links between Boko Haram and other global jihad networks such as al-Qaeda and ISIS." —Olabanji Akinola, Algoma University


The kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok, Nigeria, in 2014 drew the world's attention to the previously little-known extremist group Boko Haram. Numerous questions followed, among them: Where did Boko Haram come from? What explains the rise of this militant Islamic group and its increasingly violent actions? What is its relationship to the Islamic State?

Jacob Zenn addresses these questions in his detailed chronicle of the foundation of Boko Haram, its strategy and tactics, and its evolution as a global Jihadist movement. Drawing on exclusive interviews and extensive primary sources in Arabic and Hausa, Zenn reveals the group's inner workings and the dynamics of its trajectory.

Click here to view the author's personal website, which contains videos of his interviews and other resources.


Jacob Zenn is senior fellow on African Affairs at The Jamestown Foundation and adjunct professor in Georgetown University's Security Studies Program.


  • Boko Haram and Global Jihad.
  • Nigerian Jihadists in Sudan and the Sahel.
  • Al-Qaeda in Nigeria.
  • Ideological Preparation for Jihad.
  • Broken Alliances with Salafis.
  • Mobilizing for Battle.
  • The Role of al-Qaeda Affiliates.
  • Factional Feuds and Territorial Conquests.
  • Allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • The Islamic State in West Africa Province.
  • The Future of Global Jihad in Nigeria.
  • Appendixes.