Nigeria: Give Us Chaos Or Give Us Death

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June 15, 2012: In the north political, tribal, and religious leaders called on Boko Haram to join peace negotiations. The Islamic radicals have not responded well, as they consider these leaders part of the corruption and mismanagement problem. Religious leaders in the north are in big trouble as if they back Boko Haram because then the police come after them. If they back the government, Boko Haram comes after them. Remaining neutral is difficult and always dangerous. The government is trying to attack Boko Haram as a police matter (with lots of raids, deaths, and arrests) as well as political one (increased prosecution for corruption, which goes very slowly).

The Boko Haram violence is still but a fraction of the usual criminal activity by tribal militias and criminal gangs. But the Boko Haram gets more publicity and has the potential to escalate into nationwide religious war. Few Nigerians want this but there are radicals throughout the country who back such a solution to the Boko Haram threat.

Journalists are also in great danger up north. Boko Haram has made it clear that any journalist that does not write favorably about the Islamic radicals is considered an enemy and subject to attack. Many journalists are leaving the north. Some of these reporters now work from the Christian south, or anonymously in the north, using the Internet and cell phones. Boko Haram goes after the media outlets (including cell phone and Internet providers) if they cannot reach the reporters. Although the attacks have been relatively few, they have gotten a lot of attention and caused much fear in the north.

June 12, 2012: Al Qaeda announced on a web site that the May 31, death of a German hostage during a rescue attempt by Nigerian police was all the fault of Germany. Al Qaeda gunmen killed their prisoner rather than risk having him freed. Al Qaeda believes they are on a Mission From God and non-believers should just pay the ransom demanded and, in general, submit to Islamic rule. Kidnapping for ransom has become a big business in the north and south. Last year there were 366 kidnappings, but only 140 of those victims were freed. The number of kidnappings is higher this year.

June 10, 2012: Boko Haram attacked churches in central and northern Nigeria leaving five dead and over a dozen wounded. Christian mobs seeking revenge then went out and killed six Moslem men. Christian and Moslem religious leaders called for calm, warning that widespread religious violence would cause large scale deaths and property losses. Boko Haram wants religious war, believing such chaos would enable them to seize control of the north and then the country. The Boko Haram leadership has not been paying attention to what happened to similar Islamic radical groups elsewhere. In short, large scale religious strife tends to leave groups like Boko Haram crushed and marginalized. True believers are not discouraged by this sort of thing.

In the north Christian and Moslem (Fulani and Bachama) tribesmen resumed fighting over land use disputes. This round of violence left 13 dead and over 50 wounded.

June 9, 2012: In the north two shooting incidents left two policeman and a civilian dead.

June 8, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a suicide car bomber attacked police headquarters, leaving five dead (one policeman, four civilians). Elsewhere in the north someone shot and killed a policeman.

 

 

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