The bombing of a UN building by the Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is the second suicide attack launched by the organization in two months. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s government seems more intent on finding accommodation with the al-Qaeda-linked terror group than in fighting it.
The latest suicide bombing delivered by Boko Haram occurred last week when a car stuffed with explosives was driven into the UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abjua, killing 23 people and wounding 81. That bombing followed a similar deadly strike in June when a Boko Haram car bomb exploded at Nigeria’s national police headquarters in Abjua, killing six people.
Until the last two suicide bombings, Boko Haram’s campaign of bombings, murder and assassination against the Nigerian government and its security forces had been waged in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim northern states, in particular the Nigerian state of Borno.
In fact, only a week before the UN bombing in Abjua, police said they shot and killed a man attempting to drive a car “loaded with several cylinders of gunpowder and gasoline” into police headquarters in Borno’s capital city of Maiduguri. That foiled plot had been preceded in June by a deadly attack in Maiduguri in which Boko Haram members riding motorcycles threw bombs into an outdoor beer garden, killing 25 people.
Now, however, in its quest to turn Nigeria into a Sharia-governed Islamist state, Boko Haram seems intent on expanding its scope of deadly operations into Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south.
While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombing, he made no mention of using the assault to formally urge that Boko Haram be declared a terrorist organization and thus have it placed on the UN Security Council’s consolidated terrorist list.
For his part, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reacted to the UN bombing by calling it “barbaric, senseless and cowardly,” and vowing to hold the attackers responsible. Yet, despite his tough words, the dismal truth is that Jonathan has been more content with waging a war of words with the terrorist group than confronting it.
Specifically, shortly after Boko Haram’s first suicide bombing in June, Jonathan’s reaction was to create a seven-member government panel to open talks and negotiate with the terrorist group, even sweetening the pot by offering amnesty to any Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their weapons.
Moreover, Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS), which claimed to have arrested some members of Boko Haram involved in the June suicide bombing, said it had no intention of prosecuting them. As one Western intelligence official has noted, “The Nigerian government appears to have only a shaky grasp of how to confront the [Boko Haram] threat.”
Of course, it should be noted that the Nigerian government’s soft approach toward Boko Haram may have less to do with its acceptance of the terror group and more to do with its inability to directly take it on.