I have been on a semi hiatus over the past few weeks which is one of the reasons I haven’t commented on the Nigerian “knicker bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The actions of Farouk have dramatic and serious implications for Nigerians in particular and Africans in general traveling to the US. A number of Nigerian bloggers have written thoughtful posts on Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a plane. Here are three I think are worth reading.
Chippla’s Weblog provides a factual account focusing on Umar Farouk himself, his background – rich and privileged and the personal consequences of his action – life imprisonment. Given his background Chippla wonders why he did what he did and concludes that we should be mindful that terrorist could be anywhere – in our families, work colleagues, friends and so on.
The botched attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 235 has everything to do with a radical Islamic ideology promulgated by extremist groups like al-Qaeda. This is the point that must be emphasized. al-Qaeda’s ideologies could find sympathizers in your family, your neighborhood or your workplace. It is not ethnic, region or class specific. Though largely concentrated in the Middle East, it is becoming global.
Anengiyefa of Things I feel Strongly About comments on the unfair treatment of Nigerians following the failed bomb attempt. He begins by declaring his pride in being a Nigerian, whilst at the same time recognising the lack of development and poor quality of life for the majority of the country’s 150 million people. Nonetheless Nigeria which has over 300 different nationalities have on the whole lived in harmony with each other, are industrious, generous and hospitable people as you could find anywhere. Yes we have our political and leadership issues but where else can such a diverse set of cultures, traditions and languages live together in relative peace? So why is Nigeria on the newly declared “US Watch List” along with Sudan, Iran, and Syria. With this logic then British should also be on the list following the attempted bombing by Richard Reid the Boston “shoe bomber” – a British citizen. Not to speak of Britain’s other home grown bombers
Richard Reid the Boston “shoe bomber” is a British citizen who converted to Islam. He too was apprehended in the US in similar circumstances, but I have not heard that British people or air travelers to the US from Britain have as a result been subjected to more rigorous body searches since that incident occured years ago. It was in Amsterdam that the Nigerian terrorist suspect boarded the US bound flight that he attempted to blow up, supposedly evading the security systems at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Yet travellers from The Netherlands are not subjected to the ‘special checks’ that have been imposed on Nigerians, when in fact Nigeria is a country with no past record of involvement in international terrorism activity of any kind. The US government should hang its head in shame at this announcement. Blaming an entire country’s population for the act of just one of the country’s citizens and then proceeding to impose sanctions on the entire travelling public from that country, is unbecoming of the intelligent leadership that we thought the world had gained when the result of the last US election was announced. This is a disappointment to me and I am pleased to hear that Nigeria has officially criticised the decision.
Finally Nigerian Curiosity writes that the inclusion of Nigeria on the Terror List is unfair but not surprising. As far back as 2007 the US declared Nigeria as one of the countries with links to terrorism. In addition there have been references to Al Qaeda and Nigeria’s own militant groups operating in the Niger Delta such as MEND and Boko Haram in the North. Though personally Boko Haram and MEND should not be mentioned in the same sentence as their objectives and ideologies have completely different foundations. Nonetheless the Nigerian government’s response to the country being place on the the terror list is pathetic, not surprising since we do not actually have a President. All meaningful response has been left to Nigerians themselves.
In addition to the official statement released from the Minister of Information’s office, the official statement could have been published in major newspapers across the world. While that might seem like a waste of time and money, it would provide at least Nigerians with the confidence that their government is beginning to react, as it should, to the incident and the expected fallout. That and much more could have been done to effectively counter the negativity Nigerians are beginning to and will experience as a result of the kicker bomber’s actions. The official Nigerian response, save for Harold Demuren defending the Nigerian government (albeit he seemingly lacked crucial information about the body scanners already in Nigeria’s possession), is a clear example of how not to react when a nation is faced with a grave international event that directly affects its image and thus, will have future consequences. Once again, the duty of doing right by the nation has been left to Nigerians themselves who have released multiple press statements (such as that from Champions For Nigeria), spoken out to the media against the terrorist act (such as Nigerian Muslims in Detroit), and collectively expressed their condemnation online in a Facebook group that is over 60,000 members strong and possibly growing.
My thoughts. Nigeria is being collectively punished/ blamed for the failure of US intelligence and security forces. When you break it down, one Nigerian attempted to bomb a plane out of 150 million plus Nigerians. Another Nigerian, the father of the bomber no less, reported his concerns about the possible actions of his son on two occasions to the US authorities. Presumably based on the father’s concerns, Farouk was placed on the watch list; he was still able to get a visa to the US and we Nigerians know how difficult it is to get a US visa; some reports claim he had a return ticket, others say he didn’t, either way he only had hand luggage for such a long journey and if the he did have a return ticket it was for 7 days – surely he would need more than a small handbag? This lone misguided individual does not appear to have any ties with any Nigerian group – his ties to terrorism are with Yemen not with Nigeria. On the basis of all of the above there is no justification for this attack on every Nigerian who chooses to travel to the US and anywhere else in the world.
As for suicide bombers / bombing. A predictable outcome of a devout commitment to a lack of critical thinking…. There is no logical purpose, no defense in ideology, religion or anything else. Simply a desire to commit mass murder.