Nigeria Falling

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Few outside of Nigeria have ever heard of Boko Haram (hereafter BH).  Nigeria, too, in the broad scheme of international relations, hardly seems a country of much consequence. But BH violence in Nigeria over the past ten years should sound an ominous warning: Nigeria today has more to do with the future of our civilization than may be immediately apparent.

An oil-rich country and Africa’s most populous, but with a mostly subsistence-level peasantry despite its oil wealth, Nigeria has been riven by religious animosity and violence since a group of jihadist extremists in the Muslim majority (c. 50-60% of the population) began to impose Shari’a law on the twelve northern provinces where most Muslims live.  The Christian Nigerians, and many Muslims as well, preferred a secular democracy; but Shari’a has become the law of the land in most of these northern provinces; and what these Muslim jihadists failed to achieve via political means, they seek to achieve by violence: Hence the BH.

Boko Haram in Hausa (the Nigerian dialect spoken in most of the northern provinces) means “western education is sinful.”  It is the more common name for a violent jihadist Muslim sect officially known as “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal Jihad” [the committee for the propagation of Muhammad’s teachings for proselytizing and for Jihad].  The group seeks the imposition of Shari’a law and the extreme Islamist ideology of the supremacy of the Islam and the sinfulness of western education, on northern Nigeria, and ultimately on all of Nigeria, by force. The purpose of the violence begun in 2002 is to topple the current government and establish Islamic rule for all of Nigeria. Critics, intellectuals, and lawmakers who might stand in the way are threatened or killed. With that goal in mind, the BH rejects all aspects of western and other non-Muslim culture, eschews democratic government, rails against elections, opposes wearing western garb, and outlaws secular education.

The BH created its own schools in northern Nigeria, and these provide a fertile recruiting ground for new young violent jihadist.

The commitment of the group’s leadership to fundamentalist jihadist Muslim teaching is so strong that their former leader, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, explained during a BBC interview in 2009 that western-style education and science contradict the Qur’an, as do the western assertions that the world is a sphere and rain comes from condensed moisture in clouds.  Because of these putative contradictions, the BH sees western education as sinful and hence forbidden to Muslims.  Needless to say, there are many Muslims in Nigeria and elsewhere who disagree.

The group started in the 1960’s as a secluded fundamentalist Islamic sect, small and seemingly harmless.  But less than twenty years later its adherents caused inter-religious sectarian riots in 1980 in which 4000 died.  In 1984 violence erupted again with at least a thousand dead and more than 60,000 driven from their homes.   Hundreds more were killed in 1985.

Initially the government denied the role of Islam in the violence. Apologists said that the ranks of the BH were drawn largely from disaffected youth, drug addicts, hooligans, and common criminals who used Islamic extremism as a front for criminal activities.

But the influence of jihadist Muslim ideology and Arab Islamic terror organizations is clear.  The BH refer to themselves as the “Nigerian Taliban,” apparently inspired by the success of al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001.  “Afghanistan” is the name of their base in northern Nigeria.   Some suggest that it was perhaps not coincidental that Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf took control of the group in late 2001, just a few months after 9/11, and at once escalated violence and began a terror war against the Nigerian government, in imitation of the Taliban.

Moreover, it seems that at least some in Nigeria’s Department of State Security were unwilling to take seriously the threat that the BH pose.  According to official reports, proper authorities were informed of BH plans to start a new cycle of violence, but nothing was done.

In the 80’s the government acquiesced to the BH intimidation and threats of more violence, and by doing so, enabled the terrorists to gain more power and control. Some Muslim leaders in the government, sympathetic to the BH, secretly protected them, funded them, and legitimized their actions.  Police were warned about the growth in numbers and power of BH over the years, but ignored these warnings until 2002 when the new attacks began.  With no concerted opposition, the BH was able to grow rapidly and attract many new adherents. In what was in essence a power vacuum, the BH enjoyed easy recruitment and freedom for violent attacks.

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  • Kenny

    Western World should join hand to help Nigerians to let President of Nigeria to know the need to listen to many Nigerians that is asking him to call for National Conference of Nigeria (NCN) where all ethinic group in Nigeria will bring there representative and discuss and know if they still want to remain as one Nigeria or are they going to divide themselves and have there own country so that this Religion crises over North and South will stop,Nigerian need to divide at list between Christians and Musliem but without that Western World will find it difficult to wage this war that is coming through these terrorist that Northerner is recruiting in the name of Boko Haram and i feel that Europ and American is there target,so the earler the better.

  • Bacon Eater

    All they have to do is follow the Muslims on Friday when they go to mosque. They take off their shoes when they pray to their false god. Just put some bacon strips in their shoes and they will be considered unclean.

  • StephenD

    Did the President miss one when awarding the waivers for Children Soldiers? The Congo, Yemen, Sudan and Chad got them, why not Nigeria? Oh yeah, Nigeria's government isn't all Islamic…yet.

  • Olajide, Lagos

    We do not need any Europe or America to be able to decapitate and dissolve the Boko Haram monster, if the government lives up to its responsibilities to the nation. It is just that the security vote allocations to governors are channeled into arming and paying thugs who drive political opponents underground and run the rest out of town. That is what Boko Haram is: Political thugs turned terrorists. The security vote largess which fund the evil practice appear to be drying up and the thugs are no longer getting paid.
    With eyes on cheap amnesty money, faceless Norther political elite finds the expeditious use of terror and fury to blackmail the administration into accepting restive murderers on its payroll. This relieves themselves of the pressure of their obligations to f the Boko Haram thugs. "They are, after all, our brothers" is the hypocritical politicians' favorite cliche aimed at keeping themselves dry on the books of both sides.
    A serious government would investigate and cut off access to sophisticated weaponry that end up in the hands of these ruthless killers. It is government failure that the borders are not secured to stem the flow of weapons and mercenaries from Chad Niger, Sudan and Somalia. Our border security operatives are notorious for looking the other way even when criminal politicians flee across our borders to escape arrest and justice.
    This same Nigeria knows how to do it when the "rebels" are Southerners. Biafra was roundly blockaded to cut off arms shipments. and food supplies. That was a master stroke that brought down the movement.The federal Nigerian army could roll in with ease.. The Igbos did nothing anywhere close to the atrocities brought upon the nation by the Boko Haram.
    Strident calls for the withdrawal of troops is beginning to resonate, and spurious charges of military overreach is peddled to make the administration let go the pressure on the cornered gang of murderers, because, again, Boko haram 'are our brothers' after all. Perhaps, the soldiers and police in legitimate duties, murder on daily basis, have become our worst enemies..
    It is scandalous for a government, confronted with a very serious security threat and with the level of hindsight experience, to claim amnesia of how to react. It could not have learned nothing from Biafra, Ogoni, Niger Delta, Zaki Biam, Odi to name only but a few. Why must we walk on egg shells when it come to Boko Haram, or want to have our omelet without breaking an egg?

  • LindaRivera

    America, Britain, Europe and other countries whose leaders have allowed in huge numbers of Muslims will face the same situation as in Nigeria. Jihad is an obligation in the Koran. The Koran commands that all nations and peoples are conquered and subjugated under excessively cruel Islamic sharia law where defenseless non-Muslims have no human rights.

    In Nigeria, and other countries where non-Muslims are being murdered in huge numbers, their homes and churches burnt down, with many thousands displaced, the non-Muslims must be provided with weapons of self defense. It is immoral for the West to look away and allow these innocents to be slaughtered like sheep by cruel Muslims.

  • Osheku A Isaac

    I would suggest that nigeria should be divided into two (christians & muslims), to stop all problems.

  • D. Smith

    Mr. Isaac, I respectfully disagree. Your solution might satisfy the Christians, but the Muslims would not go for it. They are known for enacting violence on people who disagree with them in an effort to "convert" them to Islam. They will not be satisfied with a rational solution.

  • Geddy

    BHO is muzlim for god's sake. He LOVES dead Christians. Stupid Americans. Your elections have worldwide consequences.

  • Wesley69

    Should Nigeria come under Islamic rule complete with Sharia Law, this would be a huge disaster. Problems have existed here for some time. The last time, the Christians tried to secede from Nigeria and form the country of Biafra, there was a bloodbath. This Muslim takeover must be resisted at all costs. More and more this Muslim Jihad is going worldwide. As long as jihad is a component of Islam, the more it is a dangerous ideology, to be resisted like communism. The Nigerian conflict could become a situation similar to Sudan, which was recently divided this year.

  • daniel – usa

    boko hiram huh?
    when i become the president, i will debrief any and every present and past leaders. may be i will find the root of boko hiram. guess what? the roots will dry up very very quickly.

    the funniest thing is that this so boko ghiram are openly brandishing A K 47 assault riffles, yet they call their selves faceless. is it because they covered their faces with stinking socks?
    boko hiram, justice for you on its way. you may want to run, but you can't hide anymore.

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