Understanding Terrorism: A Nigerian Perspective

The debate raging in USA over the siting of a mosque near Ground Zero is a mark of a healthy society grappling with a painful problem. If I am not incorrect President Barack Obama has come down in favour of the building of the mosque because USA, a country built on the principle of freedom cannot justly deprive Muslims since we all know the nineteen terrorists of 9/11 do not represent the real face of Islam. But will the bigots of USA understand that? However, security concerns must not be taken lightly because of what extremists are capable of. Thank God it is not in Nigeria. By now ‘yawa for don burst.’ (there would have been mayhem)

However, we must not in the bid to face terrorism appease certain monsters who will still go ahead and eat us.Will anyone honestly suggest we cave in to the ‘grievances’ of the brains behind, say the Boko Haram terrorist acts in parts of Northern Nigeria in 2009? These people said that education and westernization are evil. For sure their views negated the Quran. How do you appease such people? Of course we must not ignore the festering poverty and under-development in Northern Nigeria (caused largely by the elite) that breeds such vermin. Then the Israeli-Palestinian mayhem: how can one address the grievances of extremists on both sides? Those Israelis who still think that they are living in the days Joshua swept through Canaan and thus Palestinians must not be accorded their dignity? Those Palestinians who are dedicated to the destruction of Israel? Where will they go if Israel is destroyed?

I believe that terrorism, especially the type the world has known since 2001, is caused by these factors though my list is not exhaustive:

A distorted view of the world, especially those we see as our enemies. Sponsors of terrorism will NEVER allow their recruits to see the man behind the mask so that they do not conclude that their enemies are also God’s children;

Very easy access to the technology of violence;

The unwillingness or inability of the moderate elements of the two religions principally associated with terrorism (Islam and Christianity) to speak out against their extremist fringes;

A clash of civilizations which has been on for centuries but only became accentuated in the last fifty-eighty years. Right or wrong, these two religions, especially when manipulated by vaulting power-seekers whose actions insult Prophet Muhammed and Lord Jesus Christ, have been in a fierce competition for supremacy. The West (Europe and America) and Jewish Israel are seen by the aggrieved Muslim world as infidel conquerors stomping on their religion, land and oil. Since the end of the Cold War they have risen to extract their pound of flesh. This so-called clash of civilizations thrive even in sub-saharan Africa where BOTH religions are alien to its people.

We must know that terrorism has four layers or stages. (This postulation is drawn, though with modifications, from the novelist and terrorism expert, Fredrick Forsyth):

The planners-those people who hoodwink the recruits by standing the holy books on their heads.They set the agenda; they initiate and plan; they get the resources. They may also sponsor the operations or seek sponsors. They are the ‘messiahs’ for the oppressed peoples who want to strike at the ‘enemy’.

The sponsors-there are billionaires around the world who channel resources to causes we may regard as terrorist just as Bill Gates gives to charity. Countries are also involved.

The attackers-they are the public faces of terrorism; the suicide bombers, the hijackers, the assassins. They are the brainwashed ones. But let us not label all of them as immature or uneducated. For example many of the 9/11 attackers were well educated men out of their late teens and early twenties. The 2005 London terrorist attackers included professionals above twenty-three. Maybe it is not only twisted religious precepts that drive these people; what of a strong belief in their cause, warped political ideologies, wrong understanding of their history or psychological problems?

The masses- anyone combating terrorism ignores this layer to his peril. From Palestine to Nigeria to Canada to Afghanistan THERE ARE OTHERWISE REGULAR PEOPLE WHO, WHETHER SILENTLY OR OPENLY, SUPPORT TERRORIST GROUPS. For any suicide bombing against their ‘enemy’ they thank their ‘god’; for any attempt by moderates to stem the tide of bloodshed they vow vengeance. Sadly, the first layer sets before them what the masses think they want or will solve their problems but behind they seek their own sinister purpose. A purpose students of history will tell you has not changed:quest for power, control and domination. Unfettered access to technology only worsens matters.

The only way, outside combating these terrorists, is to work for a fair world for all. Let all moderates in all religions and sane ideologies stand firm for what is right.

If you,dear reader, can spare the time go to author-me.com and read ‘Rachel’s Hero’. It is an imaginary story I wrote on what might have happened if Boko Haram had come to Lagos. May it remain fiction.

Written by
Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema
Join the discussion