Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In the words of terrorists

Adam Nossiter, writing in the New York Times, reports on interviewing two members of Nigeria's Boko Haram.

In Nigeria, a Deadly Group’s Rage Has Local Roots
In an imam’s quiet office, two young men in long hooded robes, their faces hidden by checked scarves, calmly described their deadly war against the Nigerian state.

The office door was open. Children from the Koranic school adjoining the mosque streamed past, laughing and jostling. Worshipers from the evening prayer service, which the young men had just left, poured into the parking lot. If the police had been alerted in any way, the two young men would have been instantly arrested, or worse. But neither appeared nervous about possible betrayal.

“It is not the people of Nigeria, it is only the army and the police who are against us,” said one of the men, explaining their membership in Boko Haram, the militant group that has claimed responsibility for killing hundreds in its battle against the Nigerian government. “Millions of people in Kano State are supporting us.”…

But while Western and local officials cite the militants’ growing links to terrorist organizations in the region — presenting the ties as a reason behind the group’s increasingly deadly tactics and a cause for global concern — Boko Haram is not the imported, “foreign” menace Nigerian authorities depict it to be…

“People are supporting them because the government is cheating them,” said Mohammed Ghali, the imam at the mosque where the two Boko Haram members pray. Imam Ghali is known as an intermediary between the militants and the authorities, and while open backing for the group can put almost anyone in the cross hairs of the Nigerian security services, there appears to be no shortage of Boko Haram supporters here…

For now, Boko Haram’s targets remain largely local, despite its bombing of a United Nations headquarters in Abuja, the capital, last summer. The Nigerian state is typically the enemy, and many analysts see the nation’s enduring poverty as one reason…

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