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PUBLIC OPINION ON THE ROOT CAUSES OF TERRORISM AND OBJECTIVES OF TERRORISTS: A BOKO HARAM CASE STUDY
Since about the year 2009, Boko Haram, a territorial terrorist organization, has wreaked havoc on communities in Northeast Nigeria and beyond. Significant debate has ensued about the reasons for the Boko Haram insurgency and their objectives. The government’s response to Boko Haram has largely focused on the need to stamp out the insurgency through strong military response and heightened activities in intelligence and security agencies. Some have espoused the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) approach of mounting strategies that at least recognize the root causes of the problem and the angst amongst citizens that contribute to their decision to support terrorist organizations. In this article, we investigate public opinion about the root causes of terrorism and the objectives of terrorists. The results suggest that the majority of the public agree with the following: (1) the root causes of Boko Haram are unemployment, poverty and economic problems, dislike for government, extreme political ideology, extreme religious feelings and manipulation by some politicians; and (2) a major objective of Boko Haram is to seek revenge against security forces. However, more respondents disagreed than agreed about the following objectives of Boko Haram: fighting political inequality, fighting economic inequalities, and addressing political imbalance. Given these findings, it appears there is divergence in public opinion about Boko Haram and that some aspects of public opinion differ from perspectives held by government agencies. Keywords: Terrorism, Perception, Root Causes, Objectives, Boko Haram, Nigeria.