Boko Haram: Political conspiracy or religious terrorism?

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Written by Lasis Olagunju, General Editor Friday, 30 December 2011

[From left: Jonathan, Sambo, Azazi and Ringim]

From left: Jonathan, Sambo, Azazi and Ringim

One question that rankled with security, political and even all other circles in the nation throughout the week was whether recent bomb blasts were really the handiwork of the same Boko Haram that used to ride on motorcycles to kill policemen. How and where has it acquired its present sophistication? A theory of conspiracy has been around in the consciousness of experts for quite some time now. And it is always very convenient to read political conspiracy into security issues. Recent conspiracy theory posers have generated quite considerable interests even in the United States over the 9/11 terror attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Such is always a demonstration of the distrust and mistrust of the official position by the public. To demonstrate how interested the citizenry could be on such matters James Corbett’s 5-minute satire of the ‘Official Conspiracy Theory’ on 9/11 generated 500,000 views in just 5 days on youtube, despite the fact that the maker used “factoids and hilarious graphics” to reinforce his position that there was more to that disaster than the official position told the people.

Conspiracy theorists on the Boko Haram debacle in Nigeria would suspect that there could be a link between the menace and western ideas of a disintegrated Nigeria latest by 2015 or a Northern Nigeria agenda of bringing down the Jonathan presidency or even a South South agenda of crashing the Federation for it to enjoy its rich oil resource or all of these working quite independently towards different goals. Proponents of the international dimension to the crisis would readily refer to John Campbell’s widely condemned prophesy of a dead Nigeria in four years time. The same Campbell, former US Ambassador to Nigeria, a fellow of the US’ influential Council on Foreign Relations, chose September 9, 2011 (sounds like 9/11), to advise that as a way out of the Boko Haram crisis, the US should suggest some measures to the Jonathan government which involved “putting down the guns”. If Jonathan refused to agree with those ideas, he said the United States could engage Northern Nigeria directly almost like a separate country: “ The United States should strengthen its ties with the North by expanding soft diplomatic initiatives beginning with the establishment of a consulate in Kano.” Campbell explained further that that decision “would counter the widely held view in the north that the United States is anti-Islamic.

“The consulate could then facilitate exchanges between American and Nigerian academics, especially Islamic scholars, and accelerate an existing U.S.-supported program of cataloguing and preserving ancient Islamic manuscripts, a proven tactic for affirming the international importance of northern Islamic culture. Such steps would counter the widely held view in the north that the United States is anti-Islamic.

“Even if Boko Haram expands its operations and establishes significant contacts with international terrorist organizations, the Obama administration should not let counterterrorism considerations trump these public diplomacy strategies. Too heavy a hand would risk alienating Nigeria’s 75 million Muslims, who already have legitimate grievances in the north. This, in turn, could undermine the very unity of Nigeria — something neither Washington nor Abuja can afford,” Campbell said.

Just three days ago and four days after the Madalla bomb blasts that shocked the whole world, Campbell in another statement, read the minds of elements who had started suspecting some foreign involvement in the crisis. Such people pointed at the almost simultaneous crises ravaging all major oil producing countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Even Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are struggling to keep muffled voices of destabilisation. Campbell showed further interest in Nigeria’s affairs in his Wednesday widely circulated piece affirming that “it is not necessary to look for a foreign hand to account for Boko Haram’s current operations.”

An American journalist, Gordon Duff, who appears to believe so much in conspiracy theorists also issued an article during the week wherein he affirmed that the crisis in Nigeria is beyond the ordinary. According to him, two unnamed foreign powers were involved in the debacle and that Nigeria and Egypt were so penciled down for destruction. He described Nigeria of today as “a cesspool of international intrigue.”

Doff said Boko Haram is real “but in its current formation, it is the construct of outside powers who plan to Balkanize Nigeria,” affirming that “Nigeria is, in itself, a construct that never should have existed.”

“I told my friends that Abuja would soon look like Islamabad, cameras, checkpoints, troops, that was the first part of the destabilisation plan. This is being done as we speak. Real nation building is not in the cards, only rape and destruction, debt and more debt. I saw it done, more carefully, to the United States. It isn’t the same crew, not entirely, but many of the same actors are involved.

“First they began by blocking the new president from assuming real power, buying off key political and military leaders. Then a phony terror campaign was begun, like the one the US saw with 9/11. Then “they” arrived with solutions. At the same time, “they,” who have been working with the terror groups for years, are building an “Al Qaeda” type organisation that will be able to dart across borders and carefully orchestrate a pattern of destabilization using the same contractors that are going to be paid millions to help put in place security apparatus to protect the country. This happened in America, in a way at least. It is a plan long in motion.

“Nigerians are ripe for civil war, angry, divided, fed up with abuse…There were two choices, one was to build a nation and the other was to react and become the victim of a plot long stewing in two capitols far away.” He, however, warned that “Nigeria is Africa. Saving Nigeria was vital to world stability, something only a select few know. Destroying Nigeria was vital to world entropy, something only a select few know also.”

“As we speak, plane-loads of bomb detection equipment are coming in from the same people who built the car bombs in the first place. War is being planned with the help of those who organised and armed the enemy.”

How reliable his prognosis is, is not known yet but it is expected that Nigeria’s oft abused security apparatii would see this American’s assertion as worthy of being probed.

For those who believe the crisis is in furtherance of the North’s protest over the last presidential election, Campbell’s allusion to a north with “legitimate grievances” could suggest a coalesce of two interests, international and regional.

Again, enemies of the government, especially in the north also allege a south south agenda. They believe the seeming official inaction or even laid back postures of government that is supposed to bring the situation under control is a pointer to an agenda by a region that has oil and would suffer little in case anything happened to the country.

In all these, the ordinary man suffers because terrorism like war knows no tribe or religion. Indeed, many across these two divides have fallen since the crisis started. Mosques have been lost, churches have been razed but buildings that were neither of the two have fallen victims too to the menace. What is necessary for peace is the imperative for Nigerians to emphasize the commonality of their humanity and the need to give justice to whoever is aggrieved and or wronged.

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