Nigeria: Islamic Terrorists Have A Big Day


November 7, 2011: The government's inability to deal with Islamic terror group Boko Haram is no surprise to most Nigerians. Gangsters have long taken advantage of the fact that the court system does not work (it's overwhelmed with cases and bribes can set you free). The prisons are similarly subject to bribes for those who want to get out, or just stay in touch with the outside. If the police really want to nail someone, they just quietly catch up with them and kill them. All this doesn't work against Boko Haram, which has a lot of popular support from Moslem Nigerians fed up with an ineffective and corrupt government. The problem here is that Nigerians will mobilize and defeat a threat to things they hold dear, like some degree of democracy and economic opportunity. Boko Haram is not just against corruption (which several Islamic radical groups before them have been), but calls for the establishment of a religious dictatorship, led by Moslem clerics. Boko Haram compares themselves to the Taliban. The half of the population that is Christian (or animist) is against this, and many of the Moslems are as well. In the end, Boko Haram can make a mess, which it is doing, but in the end will be crushed, and many innocent civilians will die along with the Islamic radicals. Long term, this probably won't change much. The civil war in the 1960s was far more destructive than Boko Haram, and it changed little. It's going to take more than a bunch of murderous Moslem zealots to solve Nigeria's problems with corruption.

The religious violence in the north has been increasing since the late 1990s, along with the popularity of Islamic radicalism throughout the Moslem world. But most of the population opposes the Islamic radicals. Most Nigerian Moslems have turned away from the "religious solution" as well. That's mainly because 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 predecessor. But 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.

The Nigerian government, largely because of the corruption (many senior jobs are bought, not earned through merit) has not been very successful in identifying who the key Boko Haram people are. Worse, Boko Haram will kill those informers that it can identify. And given the corruption, information about police informants can be bought. Some Boko Haram are susceptible to bribery, but they, unlike the police, do not wear uniforms and are hard to find. The northern governors, alarmed at the Boko Haram threat (to them personally and to their families and fortunes) have been scrambling to put together effective police and intelligence units. The governors also have large networks of criminal gangs (used during elections to control the vote) at their disposal, and these are being unleashed as well. But while most Moslems up north abhor Boko Haram, some do support the terror group, and that's enough to keep Boko Haram hidden. Boko Haram is thus able to recruit, train and carry out more attacks.

November 6, 2011: the U.S. government warned its citizens (and especially diplomatic personnel) to stay away from the luxury hotels in the capital for the next week. It is feared that Boko Haram may be planning another round of bombings in the capital, despite strenuous government efforts to keep the terrorists out.

In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram gunmen killed a police commander as he drove to a Mosque to pray. Attacks against the police are meant to intimidate, and discourage efforts to hunt down Boko Haram.

November 4, 2011: In Damaturu, capital of northern Yobe State, Boko Haram set off bombs in police stations and Mosques. These were accompanied by attacks by gunmen. Over sixty people were killed. At the same time, smaller, and much less lethal attacks took place in Maiduguri, the capital of neighboring Borno State, and two small towns in the area. By far, most of the violence was in Damaturu, where a large number of Boko Haram had apparently set up shop. Boko Haram was long prominent in Maiduguri, but months of massive police activity there have, as the police expected, driven most Boko Haram operatives out. Now the police know where the Islamic terrorists went.

November 3, 2011: Pirates seized a small oil tanker off the coast, and are apparently holding it for ransom. There are plenty of waterways along the coast, especially in the Niger River delta, where things can be hidden. If pirates can get away with hiding larger ships here, seizing ships will become a big business. The military, especially the air force, can stop this with an effective air search effort. The military may not be able to muster this kind of effort.

November 1, 2011: In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, soldiers began house-to-house searches for illegal weapons. All such weapons were to have been turned in by the end of October. A Boko Haram spokesman denounced the weapons searches and urged people to resist. In the first day of these searches in Maiduguri, over a thousand weapons were seized. Many of the illegal weapons were for protection against the criminal gangs that, unmolested by the police, can pretty much do as they please.

October 28, 2011: The government admitted that illegal gold mining in northern Zamfara state had killed at least 400 children, and made over a thousand more very sick. This was because the illegal mining operations used poisonous chemicals to extract the gold from the mined earth, and the lead that was also extracted ended up in the local water supply. Children are most vulnerable to the lead contaminated water.  Parents have often refused to help the government find and shut down the illegal gold mining, because the parents themselves were involved, and willing to make money even if it killed their children.



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