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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs