News / Africa

    Nigeria Pursues al-Qaida Affiliated Terrorists Behind UN Bombing

    A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011. (file photo)
    A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011. (file photo)

    Nigerian security services are hunting for those behind last month's bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja that killed 23 people. Muslim fundamentalists who claimed responsibility for the bombing said they are fighting for an independent Islamic nation in northern Nigeria.

    Nigerian authorities blame the car bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Abuja on an alleged terrorist named Mamman Nur, who they believe trained with al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

    Security officials say Nur is part of the Islamic sect known as Boko Haram, whose name translates loosely as "Western education is forbidden." The U.N. bombing is the group's highest profile attack yet, and follows the deployment of thousands of troops across northern Nigeria.

    Boko Haram does not recognize Nigeria's constitution or the election earlier this year of President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan shook up his national security team following the bombing, and says greater civilian participation in surveillance will help defeat the terrorists and their sponsors.

    Cracking Boko Haram, however, means getting to the bottom of a group about which little is known. Abubakar Umar Kari lectures in sociology at the University of Abuja. He said Boko Haram is hard to pin down.

    "It's like a mystery. Sometimes the more you look, the less you see. And it's existence is also shrouded in a lot of controversies," said Kari. "There have been a number of conspiracy theories about who are behind it, what it does, what it's objectives are and so on."

    Boko Haram's bombing campaign began after its leader died in police custody two years ago. Kari said the government's military approach toward the group missed the opportunity to address it as a matter chiefly of religion.

    "The government ought to have clearly investigated the Boko Haram from the point of view of its social existence," said Kari. "Who are these people? What do they profess? How are they objectively similar and diametrically opposed to the mainstream Islamic faith? What are their grievances, if any? Before going to law and order, they should have understood all these things. And up to now, surprisingly, this particular angle has been neglected."

    Human rights activist Shehu Sani writes extensively on Boko Haram. The head of Nigeria's influential Civil Rights Congress said the group's fundamentalism appeals to a dissatisfied generation of Nigerians.

    "Their method of preaching has always been anti-establishment. And when I say anti-establishment, I don't only mean the political establishment, but even the religious establishment as represented by the sultan and the emirs of northern Nigeria," said Sani. "We have seen the growth of a new generation of radical Muslims in the northern parts of Nigeria, who have chosen the road of armed struggle."

    Sani said a government amnesty offered to militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta changed the dynamics of Boko Haram.

    "The use of money to appease people who pick up arms made it very easy for other people to say, 'Come on. For me to be listened to, I should also pick up arms.' And the Boko Haram are somehow, in their own, thinking that the only way for the government to take them seriously is to go beyond the targets of government and towards international institutions, like the United Nations, so that the message will be sent very clearly to the world, and the government can be embarrassed,” said Sani.

    Sani said security forces appear overmatched by Boko Haram, especially given the contentiousness between some northern governors and the commanders of military task forces in their states.

    "Nigerian security forces are ill-equipped intellectually and materially to handle violence of this sort, for the reasons that those who are planting bombs and those who are picking up arms against the state are better funded and better connected and more determined than security agencies," said Sani. "Nobody will dare expose the Boko Haram. Because when you do that you expose yourself to a lot of danger from the Boko Haram, and no government will protect you."

    The Obama administration said it is helping Jonathan's government track Boko Haram financing through a program established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The U.S. Treasury Department said that tracking program is aiding investigations into last October's Independence Day bombings in the Nigerian capital.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora