What did Nigeria do to find itself mentioned in the same sentence as “terrorism”, and be blacklisted in the same illustrious company as Somalia, Afghanistan and Libya? Firstly, the U.S. list of countries that will be subjected to additional security scrutiny (the “List”) did not list Nigeria as a state sponsor of terror. The List has two parts. The first part consists of countries the U.S. considers as “state sponsors of terrorism”: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. The second part of contains countries that the U.S. considers as “countries of interest”: Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
RACIAL PROFILING WORKS: FACT
So why are the American government brazenly singling out certain countries like this? Firstly, America is not Britain. Terror is a new reality for Americans, and they are jittery. The British reacted to the July 2005 train bombings with their usual stiff upper lip because decades of bombing by the IRA has stiffened their resolve. Terror on American soil began only in 2001. Americans are simply not accustomed to tumbling skyscrapers, and exploding planes and city centres. Obama has to worry about something that Nigerian leaders rarely care about: public opinion. Obama does not want the Neo-Cons and Republicans to “out security” him. There is competition in U.S. politics to see who can be more rightwing and hard-line on terror and security. In America, elections are REAL and if Obama is not seen as being tough on terror, he might get voted out of office. In America, election results are determined by votes cast at polling stations, not by shady deals struck in hotel suites with bag fulls of Naira. Obama made this move for domestic consumption. He has to LOOK as if he is doing something proactive to protect his people. You will not find many Americans that have problems with the List.
The List amounts to racial profiling. No amount of spin can hide that. Is profiling moral? No. But does it work? YES. Israel has conducted racial profiling of Palestinians and other Arabs with success for decades. Israel is subjected to more security pressures than any other country on Earth, yet when was the last time you heard of someone getting on board an Israeli plane with bombs? The English police used to profile the Irish during the IRA bombing campaign. Even benign entities like car insurance companies profile and demand higher insurance premiums from car drivers aged under 25 because they cause a disproportionately high number of road accidents.
Even Nigerians are not above racial profiling. Ask yourself what you would think if a foreigner tried to murder several hundred Nigerian citizens simultaneously? Most adult Nigerians are familiar with “Ghana Must Go” bags. Does anyone remember where the phrase originated from? It originated from Nigeria’s 1980s knee-jerk expulsion of several million Ghanaian citizens at short notice – whom were blamed for crime and exacerbating Nigeria’s economic crisis. If Nigeria could expel over a million Ghanaians because some of them were accused of nothing more sinister than illegal immigration and petty crime, how do you expect the Americans to react to someone that attempted to murder several hundred of its citizens?
SWISS CHEESE LIST
The List has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. Firstly, why is the List even being published? That does not seem like a very security conscious thing to do. Surely terrorists will just find someone from countries other than those on the List to act as bomb couriers? They have already been trying to find Caucasian bombers for several years because they know Arabs were being profiled.
For internal flights within the U.S., it will not make a dent because most people in the U.S. use driving licenses (not passports) as identification when they fly. So there is absolutely no way of knowing the nationality of a passenger on a U.S. internal flight, so long as (s)he knows how to drive.
Remember the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid? He was British. Another huge loophole is that several Muslims of Pakistani/other Asian descent hold British passports. Yet they will be able to fly into the U.S. without any additional scrutiny. Speaking of Britain, that country is more qualified to be on the List than Nigeria is. Mutallab’s radicalisation occurred in Britain where he was the president of the University College London Islamic society. For the Americans and Nigerians reading this, that is like being the president of the Islamic society at a prestigious university like Harvard, ABU or UNN. In 2003, a British citizen named Assaf Mohammed Hanif carried out a suicide bombing in Israel that killed three people and wounded scores of others. His accomplice Omar Khan Sharif (also a British citizen), fled when his bomb failed to detonate. His corpse was later found on a beach. Both men entered Israel with their British passports. The 4 men who carried out the July 2005 train bombings in London in which 56 people were killed, were all British citizens – three of them were actually born in Britain. So in the past six years multiple British citizens have carried out terrorist attacks in which scores of people have been killed in a geographic area spanning thousands of miles from the middle east to central Europe to north America. Yet Britain is not on the List, and Nigeria is.
15 of of the 19 September 11, 2001 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The other four consisted of an Egyptian, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one Lebanese. So why are Egypt and the UAE not on the List? As well as an Egyptian being among the September 11 bombers, Osama bin Laden’s right hand man Ayman Al-Zawahiri is also Egyptian, and the U.S./Israeli nemesis Hamas was born from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
So Britain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have multiple overlapping connections with terrorist activity, yet none of them is on the List and Nigeria is, when for the first time in Nigeria’s 90 years plus existence as a corporate entity, a Nigerian attempted a terror attack after being radicalised in Britain and Yemen. The attack was not condoned by the Nigerian federal government or the government of any Nigerian state, and the attacker’s father had warned the authorities of his son’s radicalisation. How many of the numerous terrorists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, or Pakistan were ostracised and reported to their authorities by their own parents? So why did other countries escape the List, and how did Nigeria find itself on the List? Nigeria has fallen victim to its moral and religious ambivalence, and is being punished for its “previous record” in other areas that have nothing to do with terrorism.