Mohammed Yusuf (Boko Haram)

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For other people named Mohammad Yousuf, see Mohammad Yousuf (disambiguation).

Mohammed Yusuf (29 January 1970 – 30 July 2009), also known as Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, was a Nigerian Muslim sect leader and founder of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2002. He was its spiritual leader until he was killed in the 2009 Boko Haram uprising.[1] The group's official name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad".[2]

Born in Girgir village, in Jakusko, present-day Yobe State, Nigeria, Yusuf received a local education.[3] Later he studied more of Islam and became a Salafi.[4]

Boko Harum 2002 to 2009[edit]

Education and beliefs[edit]

According to scholar Paul Lubeck of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Yusuf as a young man was instructed in Salafism and was strongly influenced by the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah.[5] He had the equivalent of a graduate education, according to Nigerian academic Hussain Zakaria. Yusuf was reported as speaking proficient English.[6]

In a 2009 BBC interview, Yusuf stated his belief that the concept of a spherical Earth is contrary to Islamic teaching and should be rejected. He also rejected the Darwinian evolution, and the concept of the condensation cycle that produces rain.[6] In the interview he said:

"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."

Personal life[edit]

Yusuf had four wives and 12 children.[7]

He was reported as living a lavish lifestyle, which included ownership and driving of a Mercedes-Benz.[6]


Following the July 2009 Boko Haram uprising, the Nigerian military captured Yusuf at his parents-in-law's house. They transferred him to the custody of the Nigerian police force.[8] The police summarily executed Yusuf in public view outside the police headquarters in Maiduguri.[9][10][11] Police officials initially claimed either that Yusuf was shot while trying to escape, or died of wounds he sustained during a gun battle with the military.[10][11]


  1. ^ Boko Haram: The Emerging Jihadist Threat in West Africa - Background, Anti-Defamation League, December 12, 2011.
  2. ^ "Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists?". BBC News. 26 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "West African Militancy and Violence", page 74
  4. ^ Dowd, Robert A. (2015-07-01). Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 9780190225216. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Toni (2011-12-27). "Backgrounder - Boko Haram". Council of Foreign Relations. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma". BBC News. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  7. ^ "Nigeria sect head dies in custody". BBC News. BBC. 2009-07-31. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Nigeria row over militant killing". BBC News. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Adam Nossiter & David D. Kirkpatrick (May 7, 2014). "Abduction of Girls an Act Not Even Al Qaeda Can Condone". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  10. ^ a b Human Rights Watch (11 October 2012). Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Video shows Nigeria 'executions'". Al Jazeera. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 

External links[edit]