Boko Haram is a Localized Global Phenomenon

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

Much has been written about the atrocities of Boko Haram and the chain

of events that led to the rising of the group in Northern Nigeria. Indeed, the

testimony of the Christian Association of Nigeria’s President, Revd. Oritsajafor at the US Congress early in July

2012 had on display the different theories that have been propounded about Boko

Harem and its agents. Some ring true, others fall flat. But in order to

understand Boko Haram and respond correctly to its rise, there is a need for

policy makers and citizens to understand its origin, mission and purpose. Not

what is obvious, but what is real.

On one hand is a deep set believe (prevalent in the South), that Boko

Haram is a purely Islamist (political Islam) response to Christians that live

among them (in the North). They point to countless killings since independence

to date, as a proof of this trend. When taken further, the rise of this

atrocious form of “Islamist” (in their words) is on the rise as a political

response to the 2010 ascension of a Christian Southerner and his subsequent

election in 2011 – midway through the term of a Muslim Northerner that died. It

was this view that was propounded by the venerable leader of the Christian

Association of Nigeria before the US Congress.

The obvious problem of course with this theory is that the rise of Boko

Haram preceded the ascension of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to the Presidency. Boko Haram

was founded in 2002, during the rise of

political Sharia when northern governors exploited the phenomenon in the core

north for their own electoral benefit and was allowed to get away with it by

the incompetent Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

If anything, History shows that it was during the administration of the late

President Musa Y’Aradua that security agencies killed the sect leader –Mohammed Yusuf: in July 2009 (almost a year before GEJ became president). Up to 100 Boko Haram members were killed

during that operation between Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states in July, 2009. Indeed, the first

recorded violence by the sect was in July 2009 when it attacked police stations in Maiduguri and then in January 2010,

one full month before GEJ began to approach political ascendancy, when it killed

four people in Borno State.

On the other hand, the oft mentioned causative link between poverty,

high illiteracy rate and despondency of the core northern youth and the rise of

Boko Haram is not sufficient explanation for the rise of the group, especially

given the clear targeting of Christian religious places by the group and the

inflammatory statements that emerge from their leadership after such attacks.

This is the official US Government position, that Boko Haram is a product of

political and economic abandonment of the north by Nigeria’s leaders over the

years, and was propounded by Ambassador Bill Carson during his full swing

before the congressional committee.

Both theories may be wrong and correct at the same time, and here is


Since the rise of Boko Haram, few arrests that have been made have

linked the organization to foreign fighters who seem to have mastery of Arabic,

sophisticated training and some good dose of rhetoric. The style and method of

Boko Haram is very close to what global terror networks have displayed in Iraq,

Pakistan and Kenya in the past. Indeed, if this does not give you pause, the

world’s terror network with Al Qaeda at the center have indicated their interest in Nigeria about the

same time as Boko Haram rose out of the North. This was also about the same

time a young Nigerian was selected by the now dead enfant

terrible of the

Middle East to bomb American planes!

If this trend is not worrisome enough, just this week , two men in Abuja “were charged with

accepting thousands of dollars from the group to recruit potential terrorists

inside Nigeria and then send them to Yemen”; they were working with al-Qaida in

the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. AQAP is regarded as the most aggressive arm of

the remnant of the terror group and leading up operations in next door Somalia

where it is implementing the obvious next strategy for these crazies. In February 2012, recently arrested officials revealed

that “while the organization initially relied on donations from members,

its links with Al-Qaeda

in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, opened it up to more funding from groups in Saudi

Arabia and the UK.”

But why will Al Qaeda be interested in

Nigeria? What is the connection?

Obviously, the recent successes of the

US Administration in the Middle East to deny the terror group a foothold in

that volatile region may be pointing us to answers. Since being driven out of

Afghanistan by George Bush and with his successor, President Barack H. Obama making

it clear that Pakistan was no hiding place: Al Qaeda has been looking for the

next geographical region where it can settle and project its power. Certainly,

this strategy is panning out nicely in South Yemen where government troops

have surrendered quite a large territory like Jaar and Azzan.

In fact, a PBS Frontline Documentary recently

documented “Al Qaeda

militants’ black flag flying over Yemeni towns

that appeared to be under complete control of Ansar al-Sharia”.

To lesser extent, Al

Qaeda have been less successful in Africa, especially in Somalia where it is

under intense pressure from all sides as that nation is bolstered by Western

Powers to buck the trend. Regardless of their struggle in Africa, Al Qaeda’s

tattered army is not one to give up easily. The availability of small arms,

corrupt governments and agitated population makes West Africa a perfect target

for the bunch and with a very strong analytical minded strategic team guiding

them- Nigeria seem like a dream come true for Al Qaeda.

Nigeria with her rich history of prevalent

inter-ethnic suspicion, religious violence and extremism in the north and

poor/illiterate population coupled with rising youth unemployment,

dissatisfaction and clueless local and national leadership is a gift that may

just continue giving to the terror network.

Think about it, which other place on earth will a people exist in forceful co-existence

and the leaders insist they have no right to debate the basis of such

existence? Where on earth, will the nominal leaders of one society continue to

insist that obvious solutions need not be implemented but sacrifice on the

altar of self aggrandizement, greed and selfishness while passing the buck to

the next generation? Well, welcome to Nigeria.

To make its territorial ambition real though, Al Qaeda may already be

one step ahead of our clueless leadership in determining that Northern Nigeria

not the entire country will be the foothold that they require. Essentially,

this strategy underpins their resolve to cut off the North from the rest of the

country. While some may hail this outcome, the country should beware for what we

wish for; ask Pakistan how many drones and children of theirs are lost due to

the war knocking on their next door neighbor?

To achieve its goals of gaining a permanent foothold to the North of

Abuja/Zaria, Al Qaeda will focus on divisive tactics including targeting places

of worship (now a Church and Mosque have been attacked), while discrediting

core Northern leaders’ and denying them the ability to stuff the genie of

insecurity back in the bottle. The hyena unleashed may not be curtailed any

time soon, as Al Qaeda seem to have embarked on the next phase of this attack

by targeting political leaders in whom the electorate have invested some

legitimacy and may react virulently to their death. It was a Senator few weeks

ago, watch as that target list moves up all the way.

Cruel as it may come across, Boko Haram as agent of the world global

terror network is bent on seeing the core North cut off quickly from the rest

of Nigeria to have a launch pad territory to itself, and a lot of southern

politicians better be prepared to be collateral damage on the way up to this

final destination.

Map of Two Nigerias?

We may very well be looking at the slow motion of the balkanization of

Nigeria, as predicted in 2015 by the Central Intelligence Agency. The results will not be palatable to all

involved, I just hope our leaders (especially those clueless ones in Abuja) are

reading and thinking.

True federalism, devolution of powers and genuine unity founded on

respect for minority and opposition rights in a true democratic fashion remains

the only a panacea against a full blown balkanization come 2015 or beyond.

What other event is happening in 2015 again?

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