Jihadist-controlled territory: How do Boko Haram, Isis and the Afghan Taliban compare?


Originally posted in the IB Times.

The rapid expansion of territory seized by jihadist groups is one of the worst geo-political developments in recent years.

Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq and the Afghan Taliban have all violently brought land under their control.

Though not the only Islamic extremists to control territory in the world – others include al-Shabab in Somalia and al-Qaeda in Yemen – these three groups have either established, or have realistic aspirations of establishing, a functioning state to consolidate their power and permanence.

According to a June 2014 briefing by the Henry Jackson Society, Boko Haram has as many as 300 training camps in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

It pays its soldiers for joining and then fighting, with bonus payments for acquiring weapons during battle.

Thirteen years on from its inception, it has taken control of around 20,000 square miles of territory and displaced around 300,000 people in the process.

That is bigger than Slovakia, to put it into perspective, and home to more than 1.7 million people now living under the tyranny of Boko Haram, which adopts an extreme Sunni interpretation of Islam.

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