The Atlantic quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on the complex roots of Boko Haram in Nigeria:
“If it weren’t for the bike-helmet law, it would have been a parading-without-a-permit law, or something else,” he told me. “In essence it was just a pretext used. Things had already been building up to that point.”
The larger insight here is that there is no “patient zero” in an armed insurgency. The factors behind Boko Haram’s rise are diverse, complex, and interconnected, and the protean group has multiple origin stories.