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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora