Boko Haram, the group thought to have been responsible for the kidnappings and murders of Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, is a relatively new name in global terrorism.
But in the last year it has illustrated extraordinary military skill, carrying out church-bombings and hostage-takings in a country where security and stability have rapidly deteriorated.
The name of this radical islamist group loosely translates as ‘western education is a sin’. Its members want Sharia Law in Nigeria, so the hostage takers might have been more motivated by the potential of their own deaths than the riches of a huge ransom.
Boko Haram's insurgency plagues much of northern Nigeria, specialising in attacks on churches.
A bomb in a church in Jos in February killed one and wounded 38, while five separate bombs exploded on Christmas day. At least 27 people died in one attack alone.
Last month African leaders held a summit in Benin focusing on the threat posed to the continent by Islamist militant groups including Boko Haram.
Security officials say the sect has received some training, weapons and bomb-making technology from al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which operates in neighbouring Niger and Chad.
Boko Haram is currently not on the British Government's list of international terrorist organisations banned under the Terrorism Act 2000.
A Home Office spokesman said: "We constantly keep the list under review."