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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid