Military Wiki
Mohammed Yusuf
Born (1970-01-29)29 January 1970
Died 30 July 2009(2009-07-30) (aged 39)
Allegiance Boko Haram (2002–2009)
Rank Leader
Battles/wars 2009 Boko Haram uprising

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]

Education and beliefs

According to scholar Paul Lubeck of the University of California at Santa Cruz, as a young man Yusuf 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] "Yusuf, who studied theology at the University of Medina in Saudi Arabia, was inspired by the intolerant sermons of the Egyptian Shukri Mustafa, based on excommunication and exile Takfir wal-Hijra, and violently criticised the federal government in Abuja. He believed in strict application of Islamic law, which represented his ideal of justice according to the teachings of the Prophet." Shukri Mustafa had founded the Salafist Takfir wal-Hijra movement in Egypt in the 1960s as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Boko Haram hitmen would murder members of other Muslim sects like the Salafist Izala and the Sufi Tidjaniyya and Qadiriya fraternities.[7] 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 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

Yusuf had four wives and 12 children.[8]

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.[9] The police summarily executed Yusuf in public view outside the police headquarters in Maiduguri.[10][11][12] 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.[11][12]


  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) (in en). 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. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Nigeria's 'Taliban' enigma". BBC News. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  7. Aux origines de la secte Boko Haram, by Alain Vicky, Le Monde diplomatique, avril 2012, pages 8–9
  8. "Nigeria sect head dies in custody". BBC News. 2009-07-31. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  9. "Nigeria row over militant killing". 31 July 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  10. 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. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Human Rights Watch (11 October 2012). Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Video shows Nigeria 'executions'". 9 February 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 

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