Boko Haram has been in the news recently, e.g. Joe Boyle, "Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma", BBC News, 7/28/2009:
They have launched co-ordinated attacks across northern Nigeria, threatening to overthrow the government and impose strict Islamic law – but who exactly are the Nigerian Taliban?
Since the group emerged in 2004 they have become known as "Taliban", although they appear to have no links to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Some analysts believe they took inspiration from the radical Afghans, others say the name is more a term of ridicule used by people in Maiduguri, the area where they were founded.
The group's other name, Boko Haram, means "Western education is a sin" and is another title used by local people to refer to the group.
Isa Sanusi, from the BBC's Hausa service, says the group has no specific name for itself, just many names attributed to it by local people.
If their name is uncertain, however, their mission appears clear enough: to overthrow the Nigerian state, impose an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and abolish what they term "Western-style education".
The "Boko Haram" name combines haram, a borrowed Arabic word meaning "forbidden by Islamic law", with bokò, a Hausa word that according to Paul Newman and Roxana Ma Newman, Modern Hausa-English Dictionary, means
1. Western education. 2. Hausa written in Roman script. 3. Mock arrangment: yaƙin ~ army manoeuvres. 4. Adulteration, fraud, trick.
Talk about framing a debate…
In an interview with the BBC, the group's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, said such education "spoils the belief in one God".
"There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam," he said.
"Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.
"Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism."
Mr Yusuf himself is something of an enigma.
He is believed to be in his mid-thirties, and analysts say he is extremely wealthy and highly educated.
"He is graduate educated and very proficient in English," says Nigerian academic Hussain Zakaria.
"He lives lavishly – people say he drives a Mercedes Benz. And he is very well-educated in a Western context."
[Update: Yusuf is now reported to have been shot in police custody while "trying to escape".]