Nigeria: Chasing Salvation


March 30, 2012: The government announced that it plans to have crushed Boko Haram by June. That optimism is based on politics (the need to defeat the greatest security threat the nation has faced in decades) and smugness (substantial police and army forces have been sent north, with orders to do whatever it takes to get the job done.) On the downside, the northerners are, in general, still angry with the persistent corruption, and many Moslems tend to blame Christians, and southerners in general for all the bad stuff (corruption and inept government). This is partly a religious thing, because Islam holds that Moslems are good and all evil comes from infidels (non-Moslems). The Christians, in contrast, are more into personal responsibility and self-help. This is all part of the ancient culture clash between the north and the south, which was only made worse when the north adopted Islam centuries ago. The government really wants Boko Haram gone by June, because otherwise the nation is a lot closer to civil war.

The traditional tribal and religious leaders are alarmed at Boko Haram, because the Islamic radicals provide opportunities for reform minded (or opportunistic) clerics and minor tribal leaders to seek more power. Thus the traditional leaders are meeting quietly to try and develop tactics to deal with these upstarts. Many of the traditional leaders are corrupt, but most of them take seriously their responsibilities to their tribe or religious followers.

Boko Haram is having its own civil war. Two major factions are feuding with each other. The animosity is so great that the factions are providing police with information about where the leaders of the other faction are likely to be. This has resulted in the arrest or death of several Boko Haram leaders recently. But many of the tips are not credible, and the security forces tend to overreact, as they usually do. Many of those arrested are soon released, once it is realized that there is nothing connecting them to the Islamic terror group (as happens when Christians are picked up in these sweeps.) The increased police searches are also uncovering evidence of al Qaeda activity in the north, or at least people who are in contact with al Qaeda operations in other countries.

The police and army have warned people up north not to provide shelter or support for Boko Haram. This may scare off some but many northerners support anyone fighting back against what is perceived as a corrupt and brutal government. Police are searching a lot more known pro-Boko Haram neighborhoods and finding guns and bomb making equipment. People are arrested and some of them talk, leading to more searches. The police are creating more Boko Haram supporters with these rough tactics but the terrorists are being hurt.

March 28, 2012: In the north (Yobe State) Boko Haram attacked a police station (with a bomb and guns) and freed a dozen prisoners. Three of the attackers died.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen killed a police commander.

March 26, 2012: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen killed two retired policemen. Related gun battles left four more dead, including three of the terrorists.

March 24, 2012: In the north (Kano and Maiduguri) vigorous searches for Boko Haram gunmen resulted in several clashes, which left five Boko Haram members dead.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for kidnapping a German man last January. Al Qaeda wants cash and the release of a Moslem woman imprisoned in Germany for terrorism.




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