Nigeria: Sympathy For The Devil


February 27, 2012:  In the Moslem north police and soldiers are conducting raids and making arrests of suspected Boko Haram members or sympathizers. There are neighborhoods and villages known to contain a lot of Islamic conservatives sympathetic to Boko Haram and these areas are the usual targets. Nigerian police (especially) and soldiers are known more for corruption than discipline and professionalism. The security forces will open fire at the least provocation and fire wildly. The government is trying to eliminate this problem but there is no quick fix. The solution is more training and better selection of officers and NCOs. That takes time and resolve. Many leadership positions in the police and even the army are for sale.

Over 300 have died from Boko Haram violence so far this year. That's some 38 percent of all Boko Haram related deaths in the last few years. The headline grabbing Boko Haram attacks has increased religious tension but not to the point where there are a lot more religious clashes. It's possible that this may change as more Boko Haram attacks kill more Christians. Most Moslems do not want this because there are many Moslems living in the south who would be overwhelmed by their more numerous Christian neighbors. Moreover, such a war of religion would more likely lead to partition, than the establishment of a religious dictatorship. Since most of the oil, and Christians, are in the south this would only favor the Christian half of the 160 million Nigerians.

The U.S. government refuses, so far, to designate Boko Haram an international terror organization. The designation makes it easier to pursue international operations of terror groups, including fund raising. While the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and many American terrorism experts consider Boko Haram eligible for the designation, many academics and State Department Africa experts believe the designation would offend Nigerian Moslems and make Boko Haram even more violent.  Boko Haram makes no secret of its goal; to establish a religious dictatorship in Nigeria and forcibly convert all Nigerian Christians to Islam. Boko Haram arose out of frustration among Nigerian Moslems over the failure of Sharia (Islamic) law to cope with the crippling, and very unpopular, corruption and government mismanagement. A decade ago the northern Moslem states, due to popular pressure, introduced Sharia (Islamic) law. This was supposed to take care of corruption and some Islamic conservative politicians were elected. This did not work. The Sharia laws were ignored just like the previous ones were, and the Islamic conservative politicians turned out to be as corrupt as their predecessors. Some Moslems were undeterred and have doubled down by backing Boko Haram. The idea is that if the Islamic violence is sufficiently extreme and widespread the corruption and bad government will be eliminated. Most northerners do not agree with this but Boko Haram is willing to kill for its beliefs and that gets everyone's attention.

Unlike the Taliban, that Boko Haram models itself on, the Nigerian Islamic terrorists do not use suicide bombers much. That's because of a shortage of volunteers and people skilled in recruiting and handling suicide attackers. Boko Haram is supposed to be getting assistance from al Qaeda, which would include training in selecting and handling suicide bombers, but there's not much evidence of that so far.

Not surprisingly, police have found that Islamic terror group Boko Haram is suffering from tribal and clan tensions. Leaders of the several Boko Haram factions tend to favor men from their own tribe or clan. It's only natural that sect leaders should recruit people they know and trust them more. More ominously, Boko Haram imposes strict rules on how members should behave. This includes execution for those who try to leave the group. This discourages some from joining but does not stop people from changing their minds and trying to leave. These are typical problems with violent radical groups.

In the north, and in the national capital, increased security measures have made it more difficult for people to visit police stations and other government buildings. Vehicle traffic is greatly restricted because of the Boko Haram use of car bombs.

February 26, 2012: In the Central Nigerian city of Jos Boko Haram set off a bomb at a church killing the suicide bomber and one worshiper and wounding 38. Later that day groups of young Christian men attacked Moslems, killing two and wounding several more. This is what Boko Haram wants, a civil war between Christians and Moslems.

In the northern city of Bauchi police arrested eight Christians and seized explosives the men were going to use to bomb the church of a rival Christian group. The police fear that this will happen more frequently as criminals, and other religious, tribal and political groups with a grudge will stage terror attacks that will initially be blamed on Boko Haram. That makes it harder to identify and catch the real culprits.

February 24, 2012: In the northeastern city of Gombe Boko Haram attacked a prison and several other targets, leaving 14 dead and five wounded. The prison attack failed to free any inmates.

In the northern city of Kano a Mosque was attacked with gunfire, leaving five dead. This was believed to be a Boko Haram effort to intimidate Moslems who oppose Islamic terrorism.

February 23, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri police found the body of a 79 year old Christian woman with her throat slit. There was a note on the body that said (in Arabic), "we will get you soon." Elsewhere in the north, four policemen were killed in two separate incidents.

February 22, 2012: In the northern city of Kano men on a motorcycle shot dead two policemen. Before dawn there were several explosions and four suspects were arrested.

February 20, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri Boko Haram set off several bombs at a market place. Soldiers showed up and a lot of shooting took place. The army said it killed eight Boko Haram but local hospitals received over two dozen bodies with gunshot sounds. Witnesses say that most of the shooting victims were civilians caught in the crossfire.



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