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ward the creation of a truly Islamic society. To some extent, they were justified in their self-congratulation. Certainly their role or influence was not as great as they often claim, but through their actions they have helped bring about its introduction.

Yet, the northern states implementation of sharia also presented the Izala and Muslim Brothers with some new problems. For a start, it robbed them of an issue they had long used to attack the secular authori- ties and traditional religious leaders. For many years sharia had given them a convenient stick with which to beat their enemies, but now they needed something else. More seriously, it led to the emergence of even more radical Islamist groups, which soon developed huge grassroots followings. The most prominent and successful of these new movements was Boko Haram, which in the space of just 7 years has managed to es- tablish itself as a major rival to the existing Islamist groups.

The group, which often refers to itself as the Nige- rian Taliban, first emerged in 2002 in the northeastern city of Maidugari, which is located close to the borders with Chad and Cameroon. From the outset, and until very recently, it was led by a charismatic young fire- brand called Mohammed Yusuf. It was established in direct response to the introduction of sharia law. Its implementation helped persuade the 3,000 or so men, women, and children who became the group’s original members to emulate the Prophet’s hijara or flight from Mecca to Medina and withdraw to a remote part of Ni- ger State. They referred to the area they occupied as “Afghanistan” and lived there peacefully for a number of years.

Yet in Borno and Yobe States, groups of young men, keen to either enter Afghanistan or to set up sim-


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