About a year ago, on board a Detroit-bound aircraft on the December 25th, 2009 with up to 300 festive conscious and weary passengers who had travelled across the expansive and titanic Atlantic ocean non-stop was a young, western-educated, super brat Nigerian from a well known and respected, aristocratic family background. He carried with him a mission statement, well crafted by months of indoctrinations and youthful activisms – ‘Create maximum casualty effect, liquidate everyone on board, hold no hostage and leave no enemy behind. God be with you and guide you, we shall meet in the hereafter’. This could have been a script from any epic story line in the past depicting a futuristic episode in a fiction movie. However, it happened graphically in real life like in a reality television playback, though by freak of nature and divine intervention in the affairs of men it was aborted when it was timed to commence.
However, the abortion of such regrettable action from just a lone misguided individual notwithstanding, the manifest intention is now used to judge the fate of more than 150 Million people who have endured for so long under the shackles and manacles of international conspiracy over the control of oil, land and power. And hence like a bomb shell, a Fatwah of sort, the United State government added Nigeria to the list of 14 ‘terrorist countries’. Concomitantly therefore, the adoption of new rules that would increase the screening of citizens from such 14 countries, who want to fly to the United States as well as travelers of all nationalities who are flying to the United States from any of such 14 countries are put in place. These countries are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Four of the countries, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are on the U.S. government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. While the other 10, have been labeled “countries of interest”. Going by antecedent of history the other 13 countries could be said to have been at the front burner of international terrorism involving their citizens for a long period of time, and in a consistent level. While the addition of Nigeria was almost certainly only as a result of the Christmas Day bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, unfortunately a Nigerian, tutored and groomed abroad.
What baffles one as regards the inclusion of Nigeria in such a list is that a look at the early terrorist attacks against the Western world, most especially the United States, have revealed that many of the perpetrators were from other nations of the world and such actions from such individuals have been repeated time and time again by the citizens of such other nations. It is worthy of note therefore, that Americans or his allies have not at any time considered labeling the country of origin of such ‘misguided individuals’ as a terrorist nation. More often than not, the actions of such individuals linked to international terrorism have been treated individually at its own merit. For instance, the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing ,the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane, and the thwarted 1993 New York Landmarks Plot, recorded a large contingent of Egyptians, including Omar Abdul-Rahman (aka “the Blind Sheikh”), Ibrahim Elgabrowny, Mahmud Abouhalima ,ElSayyid Nosair, and several others . In fact, Egyptians played a significant role in the development of the extremist ideology of several anti American groups and have long constituted and contributed a very substantial portion of the international terrorist movements and even of the core al Qaeda cadre. Even, the foundation of the extremist arm of the Palestinian body which had once constituted a great threat to international politics and social stability had their root in Egypt. Because of this, is it not quite amazing that Egypt does not appear on the American’s list?
Indeed, apart from the Egyptians, the early terrorist plots against the United States in recent past saw the brutal operations of operatives who were Palestinian, Pakistani, Sudanese and Iraqi. This is highly significant, during the New York Landmarks Plot; there were a Puerto Rican who converted to Islam by the name, Victor Alvarez and an African-American Muslim named Clement Rodney Hampton-el. Alvarez and Hampton-el. There was also the case of a Tanzanian called “Foopie” (who smuggled explosives by bicycle) and an Indonesian named Zulkarnaen. There was also Kuwait-born Pakistani citizen who was the bomb maker in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Abdul Basit (better known by his alias, Ramzi Yousef). After leaving the United States, Basit resettled in Manila, Philippines and attempted to orchestrate an attack against U.S. airliners in Asia called Operation Bojinka. However, an apartment fire in Manila caused Basit to flee the city, from where he moved over to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he attempted to recruit new operatives to carry out the unfinished Bojinka plot. One of the men he recruited was a South African Muslim named Istaique Parker. The terrorist activities of these groups were noted, well documented and successful. However, the ‘punishment’ meted out to them thereafter, i.e. the ‘operatives’, involved in such plots were individual and not collateral, unlike in the case of Muttallabs, whose attempt was unsuccessful but, his country of origin was found culpable and indicted, even before he himself was found guilty or indicted since the case is still in court, and his innocence or guilt is still in contention.
Even there have been high rate of emergence of ‘terrorists’ among the so called ‘Allies of the Willing’ i.e nations that gave massive military and political support to the United State following the September 11 terrorist attack. For instance, Richard Reid, the British citizen known as the “shoe bomber”, who attempted to destroy the American Airlines Flight 63 over the Atlantic with a shoe bomb in December 2001. Jack Roche, the Australian known as “Jihad Jack.”The Duka brothers, ethnic Albanians involved in the Fort Dix plot. Daniel, Germaine Maurice Lindsay, the Jamaican-born suicide bomber involved in the July 7, 2005, London attacks. Nick Reilly, the British citizen who attempted to bomb a restaurant in Exeter in May 2008. However, deadly the actions of such aforementioned, their country of origin, or the State of their birth have never at any time been tied collectively with the actions of such principals. Then is it not right for us to ask-‘Why is Nigeria’s case different’?
Moreover, within the American territory itself, there have been numerous cases of home grown terrorists, who have orchestrated and plotted grassroots attacks inside the United States or against other nations. For instance, the following individuals, among many others, were American citizens who have been involved in terrorist activity against America itself: Jose Padilla, known as the “dirty bomber” and one of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed operatives, Adam Gadahn, an al Qaeda spokesman who was born Adam Pearlman in California. John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban”, David Headley, (named Daood Gilani at birth), who helped the al Qaeda to conduct pre-operational surveillance in Mumbai and Denmark.
As reflected above, extremists, militants, terrorists or by any other convenient name or title they might be addressed could come from any ethnic and nationality, and as evident they hold no allegiance or sympathy to any people or nation here on earth but rather to the mission at hand, not minding whose horse is gored and the number involved. It is a pity, a circuitous paradigm, or twist of fate that almost all the nations listed and vilified as terrorist countries have their own sad story to tell. In Saudi Arabia for instance a minister and a Saudi Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, well noted for his stance against terror
ism was attacked. In that attack, a suicide operative smuggled an assembled improvised explosive devise component containing approximately one pound of high explosives from Yemen to Saudi Arabia concealed in his rectum. While in a meeting with Mohammed, the bomber placed a telephone call and the device hidden inside him detonated. He died, while the Minister was seriously wounded. Are terrorist activities not like a common video game or a major news story today on a daily basis in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen? Then if these nations are listed as terrorist nations, is it not necessary to ask – ‘Who is the terror?’, ‘Who is the terror’s victim?’, ‘who benefit from the terror?’ .And ‘Where is the terror orchestrated?’
Going by the last rhetorical question posed above. It is worthy of note ,that there have been far more terrorist plots that have originated in nations like the United Kingdom than there have been plots involving nations like Nigerians. And yet Nigeria is on the list and the United Kingdom is not. And like the African Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka pointed out recently, ‘Britain is a cesspit of terrorism’. To refresh our memory, from time immemorial, at one time or the other, the world most notorious and deadliest terrorist ever, Ramírez Sánchez-with the nom de guerre ‘Carlos the Jackal’ was once domiciled in Great Britain and at one time or the other was at the Polytechnic of Central London from where he apparently masterminded several terrorist activities, a precursor to our own Muttallabs. And in recent time, there have been reported cases of British citizens and even Americans who have been fighting with al Shabaab in Somalia (a group labeled as a terrorist organization).
And infact ,several, if not all of the insurrections ,violent takeover of government in Africa,Latin American and other third world countries ,which could be termed as international terrorism have been traced to the solo efforts of either British or American citizens. Suffix to mention one of the well known recent court case which highlighted vividly a case of sponsoring terror against governments in Africa, involving former British Prime Minister(Margaret Thatcher)’s son. Are such people or their off springs not more dangerous and could board a flight, receive less scrutiny than an innocent Nigerian flying from the same airport. Or are we saying that such individuals cannot be recruited by Al Qaeda or any of its franchises. On a lighter mood, It follows therefore that if citadels like Fort Benning is now regarded as the ‘School of assassins’ by the American Congress because of its antecedence as a training or breeding ground for brutal dictators in the third world countries, is it not yet time for London or Britain to be termed ‘College of Terrorists’ by the British Parliament, since it has become a well known breeding ground for would-be international terrorists, and more attention given to it (United Kingdom) more than a struggling ,poverty stricken country like Nigeria.
This is highly necessary, and instructive, so that instead of looking for stray scapegoats all over the world, at any given excuse, the world would know the direction to look. Using a street-wise native reasoning one could now reason that, Muttalabs could have succeeded being a ‘mechanic’ had it been he remained in Nigeria instead of going to school in Britain, where he was recruited and trained to be a terrorist. And on this premise, if there is any room for justice in the world his parent must brace up enough courage to sue the United Kingdom to court for negligence of duties as a care taker for the well being of their well beloved son.
At this stage, if one could be permitted to give an unsolicited advice to the United State government, conventional wisdom holds that the American government should know by now that its current struggle is against a more resourceful, adaptive and slippery adversary with a worldwide network of borderless empires that surpasses that of Alexandria the great and Genghis Khan put together. And hence, it should focus more attention on its security apparatus rather than creating an endless list of known and unknown would be terrorist countries and thereby focusing on a threat that is defined too narrow to be effective, counterproductive and creating more enemies. And thereby, playing into the hands of the so-called terrorists, whose tradecraft and operational framework include creation of chaos among nations. There is no doubt that the terrorist groups have now heard about the list of 14 countries and, demonstrating their adaptability and invincibility, undoubtedly will make use of operatives who are not from one of those countries .
For instance, since it is now a common modus operandi of terrorists groups to target international travel more than any other segments of the society of interest to them, efforts to improve technical methods to locate dangerous elements or substances on board aircraft must therefore be stepped up. Emphasis must also be placed on finding individual with deviants’ tendency by placing a greater attention on checking names, and assigning trained security officers to watch for abnormal behavior and suspicious demeanor. This also means that the tradition of overlooking human elements of airport security, which include situational awareness, observation and intuition, need to be taken more seriously under the present, precarious global situation.
And talking about airport security, in view of this new threat, security personnel in all international airport must go through more sophisticated training, which must include identifying small arms, dismembered bomb components, dangerous and easily concealed biological and chemical elements among others. And above all, they must undergo psychological training which will build them up psychologically to exercise their intelligence, intuition and common sense. This will ultimately avail all necessary agencies to be more focused on the ‘how’ and not on the ‘who’ as is presently practiced in all our international airports. Information sharing among agencies is also expedient, atleast as in the case of Muttalabs, his father gave a warning salvo which was ignored and not shared by various security apparatus that was informed in due course.
Presently, we all know, from account of events from Nigeria and the way Nigeria is being perceived in the world that to speak for Nigeria is like being a devil’s advocate. However, one salient point that is worthy of note and action is that any nation whose citizen has been involved in terrorist activities, should also been included in the list of terrorist nation, including America itself. And hence, citizens of such nations should also be subjected to excruciating security screening. If this is not possible, then instead of creating a bias and subjective lists in an environment where the potential threat is hard to identify, it is greatly and doubly important to access and profile individuals based on their peculiar behavior rather than their ethnicity or nationality or probably or perhaps religion.
In summary, the only reason Nigeria is on the list of 14 terrorist countries now we were told is because of the Christmas Day incident. By simple commonsense and deductive reasoning going by the profiling of apprehended or known ‘terrorists’, everybody knows that international terrorism is now a major problem of the 21st century and that terrorists can come from any family, community ,country or religion. There is absolutely no reason why terrorists groups could not use any one from anywhere in the world either from Cameroun, Ghana, Canada, Switzerland, Tristan Da Cunha or Christmas Island instead of a Nigerian in their next attack. In other words, it is now evident for all to comprehend that international politics, diplomacy, camaraderie or engagement a
mong nations is woven tightly and intricately within a shroud of hypocrisy, double dealing, deception and vested national interest. Is it not well known that one nation’s terrorist or militant could be another nation’s freedom fighter. However, what we are yet to know and understand is the gauge by which and with which nations of the world assess and choose their ‘enemies’ or ‘friends’. More so the more, we are aware and also know that America controls the most potent power and means of communication by which almost all the entire world catches a glimpse of how the axis of the world turns and is expected to turn. By the fact of history and reality therefore, it is recommended and expedient that America and the western world should be told that terrorists are not born, they are made.
Nigeria has since been removed from the International terrorist list.