May 2014 Archives

Boko Haram’s five-year battle to impose caliphate kills thousands
By Monica Mark, The Guardian
Sunday, May 11, 2014

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/11/boko-harams-five-year-battle-to-impose-caliphate-kills-thousands/

Nigerians have suffered more than a year of attacks on western-style schools but the international community is only just waking up to it

The gunmen stormed in just as dawn broke over the school in a remote village in north-eastern Nigeria. There were around two dozen of them, and, survivors later recounted, they worked quickly, methodically and with unflinching brutality.

“Allahu Akbar,” they shouted, as they lined up students and murdered them with single bullets to the head. Some of the teenage pupils were burnt alive when their dormitories were locked, doused in petrol and set alight; those trying to escape were knifed to death.

They killed 46 boys all in all. Unlike the abduction of more than 200 girls from a school in Chibok last month, in this attack they spared the girls and killed all the boys. The atrocity barely registered in the international headlines. That was almost a year ago, in July 2013.

The schoolgirls have become symbols of an increasingly vicious conflict that had until now not registered on the western media’s radar. Yet for more than a year there has been a pattern of attacking western-style schools, seen as anathema to Boko Haram, whose five-year battle to impose an Islamic caliphate in the north of Africa’s most populous country has killed thousands. Officials and former abductees told the Observer the girls were now being used as sex slaves, a suspicion that has fuelled almost two weeks of social media campaigns and rare protests across Nigeria.

But for ordinary Nigerians, who have lived for half a decade under the shadow of the insurgency, there is frustration that a singular act is obscuring a more complex narrative. Social media campaigns and public anger – in different forms both at home and abroad – have helped trigger international action from the US and UK, among others.

The accounts of former abductees of the Islamist sect – Nigerian citizens ranging from civil servants to street hawkers – suggest the schoolgirls are now being used as sex slaves. A day after the Chibok abductions, a squad from the Nigerian army was dispatched into the Sambisa forest. A soldier in the rescue mission told the Observer they encountered a group of 20 women in the scrublands, but they failed to get close to them without alerting the attention of the militants.

“My unit found some 20 women abandoned by Boko Haram in the forest. They were traumatised, around 15 of them were pregnant,” the soldier said.

Worse was what some of the women said. One, whose identity the Observer is protecting, said: “We were lined up in a single file then asked our religion. The Muslims among us were allowed to move around the camp freely and interact, while the Christians were turned to sex slaves. Any girl who was Christian would have to sleep with four, five or six of the Boko Haram men every day

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Boko Haram and the return of the Nigerian slave trade

GEOFFREY CLARFIELD May 11, 2014, The Times of Israel

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/boko-haram-and-the-return-of-the-nigerian-slave-trade/

Last week the Nigerian Islamic militants, Boko Haram, struck again in a small town in northern Nigeria near the Cameroonian border, killing 300 people. This is part of a series of escalating attacks such as the one they carried out last August, as the men of Konduga, a small northern Nigerian riverine Muslim community, were attending their Friday prayers. As they prayed, a group of armed Boko Haram terrorists attacked the mosque and killed 44 worshippers. The next day, as is their custom, Boko Haram released a video where they vilified and taunted the United States and Israel.

And then, just a few weeks ago, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls and boasted on the Internet that they were going to sell them into slavery, something that has suddenly shocked the world, for few have fully realized that this means that we are witnessing the return of the Nigerian slave trade.

Given the extreme violence and the high death toll of Islamic uprisings in places like Syria and Iraq, the Western public has become accustomed to hearing about an ebb and flow of religiously inspired massacres, but it is the proud slaving propensities of Boko Haram that are a shock to the news reading public and, the fact that they openly boast about it. There is more to this story than meets the eye.

Western readers have difficulty understanding who Boko Haram are, where they come from and what they mean in the context of Nigerian history, for Nigeria is really two distinct countries, a Muslim north and a non Muslim south. These two distinct cultural and religious entities were artificially fused by the British empire in the late 19th and early 20th century in what historians now call the “scramble for Africa,” a period of about forty years when England, France, Portugal, Belgium and Germany occupied almost all of North and Sub Saharan Africa. Most of the members of Boko Haram hail from the northern Islamic states of what later became the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

What we now call Nigeria is the result of English merchants, and later imperial civil servants contracting treaties with a host of African chiefs and then linking them into a colonial framework which set the stage for the large African independence movements that emerged after WWII, motivated by western educated African elites who had witnessed a world war where the supposedly racially superior Europeans fought to the death with the help of hundreds of thousands of African and Asian troops. Indeed, it was the French General De Gaulle who once said that without the assistance of the African soldiers of French West and Central Africa, they would not have prospered in their fight against the German Nazis.

When the British established their administrative and military control over Nigeria in the early 20th century, they froze a historical dynamic that had been ongoing for over a thousand years, that is the slow conversion to Islam of the sahelian dwelling northern tribes of Nigeria, such as the Hausa and Kanuri peoples who lived under a range of feuding emirs or local sultans and who then, as sincere believers in Islam, adopted a Jihad which included systematic enslavement and sale of captives from the more southern non-Muslim tribes, such as the Yoruba, Ibo and many others who lived nearer to the Atlantic ocean.

This indigenous African slave trade which supplied northerners with an abundance of concubines, cheap domestic help and farm based slave labor, was then incorporated into the more widely known transatlantic slave trade where “up country” West Africans raided and sold slaves to “down country” West Africans, who in turn sold them in growing numbers to Europeans who took them across the Atlantic to the United States and to countries like Brazil, where legalized forms of slavery survived into the 1880s.

The northern Nigerian slave trade never stopped, even when the British made it illegal and long before historians brought to our attention the full horror of the transatlantic slave trade that has so dramatically changed the demography of the new world, both north and south and, our perceptions of American and South American history.

During the 20th century under colonialism and a newly independent Nigeria, slavery in the south practically disappeared and slavery in the north was reduced to an illegal minimum as the country's legal system actively forbid it. However, during the last few years some of the northern states of the Federal State of Nigeria, and who were once independent Muslim emirates states in pre-colonial times, have brought back Sharia law, which does not rule against slavery. It should then come as no surprise that young radicalized northerners, such as the members of Boko Haram, would like to take that one step further and bring back the old slave trade.

African historian John Alembillah Azumah has persuasively argued in his ground breaking book about the legacy of Islamic slavery in Africa that slave raids were quite extensive in all the emirates of northern Nigeria and in Adamawa in particular the practice continued until the 1920s. Organized raids sometimes involved the coordinated efforts of several political units referred to in some sources as polyglot raiding confederacies.’ Adult men were usually killed and the women, children and younger ones carried away. The Sokoto caliphate, therefore became the largest slave society in Africa with Adamawa as the major slave reservoir of the caliphate.

The European explorer Heinrich Barth who joined one of these slave-raiding expeditions in 1852, best describes the cultural style of the slave raid carried out by members of the emirates of northern Nigeria against a non-Muslim traditional group such as the Mugu. Barth joined a group of 20,000-armed warriors from the sultanate of Bornu. He wrote:

A large number of slaves had been caught this day. Altogether they were said to have taken a thousand and there were certainly not less than five hundred. To our utmost horror not less than one hundred and seventy full-grown men were mercilessly slaughtered in cold blood, the greater part of them being allowed to bleed to death, a leg having been severed from the body.

The colonial occupation of West Africa by the English and the French put an end to such outright raiding practices and then the slaves did everything possible to use the new legal and administrative systems put in place by the incoming English and the French, to gain a modicum of freedom under the new regimes. Towards the end of the 19th century, surveys carried out by the French and the British found that much of the population of West Africa were slaves. For those who still believe that the Atlantic slave trade was somehow ethnically and geographically sealed off from the indigenous and trans Saharan/Sahelian slave trade, Azumah has this to say:

Muslim emirates were by far the major suppliers of slaves. Indeed, the trans-Saharan and transatlantic slave trades reached their peak between the seventeenth and the early nineteenth centuries when the Muslim tradition of military Jihad was in the ascendancy in the Western Sudan. Most of the jihad movements became the main source of slaves.

Not surprisingly Boko Haram is led by a man from northern Nigeria or perhaps from just over the border in Niger, named Abubakar Shekau. Shekau is in his late thirties or early forties. He is known to have an almost photographic memory when it comes to the sacred texts of Islam. He has a 7 million dollar price on his head and he seems to enjoy posting his Youtube rants on the Internet where he regularly threatens the Nigerian government, the US, Israel and other Western countries.

1 -Boko Hamam Shekau.jpg

We can assume that Shekau models himself on one of a series of 19th century Jihadist reformers of Islam’ which were at that time common to northern Nigeria and the neighboring states of the Sahel such as the Jihad of the Fulani warrior, Uthman Dan Fodio. Fodio's grandson Umaru Nagamatse (1859-76) as Emir of Kontagora, was a notorious slaver and his son Ibrahim, who became Emir in 1879, when he heard that the British were coming after him to close down his slave trade was quoted saying:


Can you stop a cat from mousing? When I die it will be with a slave in my mouth.

Anthropologists and embedded journalists occasionally get access to the oral traditions handed down from father to son about the good old days in non-Western cultures. In the case of Northern Nigeria it is clear that the good old days were the precolonial days of Jihad and slavery. Terrorists such as Shekau did not emerge out of nowhere.” He and his growing number of accomplices are a throwback to a time when he and his group and its ethnic allies were the dominant power in the region; the tough ones, the slave traders, the ones who lived off other people's labour in the name of Jihad and Islam.

Clearly the modern, forward looking, commercial and secular urban forms of contemporary Nigeria do not attract these young radicals. They want to turn back the clock to the time of their grandfathers and great grandfathers. It is also not suprising that Shekau and his colleagues seem to arise out of nowhere, strike hard and then disappear into the bush. This can only happen when a significant number of people in the countryside either support these brutal young men or, are too frightened to oppose them. The dynamics of this kind of guerrilla warfare was first written about by T.E.Lawrence for an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica just after WWI. It explains much about Boko Haram and its northern Nigerian environment.

The only thing new about Boko Haram is their technology. Their values and behavior are firmly rooted in a history that they do not want to reject, that of the well documented, but little known slave trade that has plagued Nigeria for centuries. Boko Haram is doing everything possible to bring it back.

Al-Qaeda linked terrorists murdered four Americans in Benghazi a few weeks before Obama's re-election day. Obama had been constantly bragging that the death of bin Laden (which of course he carried out singlehandedly,

But, wait a minute! The White House can't let anything spoil the narrative! This was no terrorist attack. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, it was some average Libyans upset with a nasty video about Mohammad posted on YouTube (and seen by less than 3,000 people over two months) who must have just let things get out of hand. Too bad about the ambassador, so we'll throw that filmmaker in jail and bring him to justice.

The Truth? The truth is what we can get the public to believe, so the White House spin machine rumbles on and on right through the election up to today.

But the time for truth telling may have come at last with the appointment by House Speaker Boehner of a Select Committee to get all the facts out.

Trey Gowdy will provide electifyingly capable leadership of that committee. Rep. Trey Gowdy's Select Committee on Benghazi will get the facts.

What do the folks back home in Greenville, SC think of their former federal prosecutor and now second term Congressman? Read this.

And take a look at this Gowdy meeting with the press corps not too long ago.

He is the right man to head the Select Committee on Benghazi. Watch the mainstream left wing media, the White House and Democrats in Congress try to destroy him.

Islam's war against Nigeria's Christians is now expanding to include the Nigerian government. For the second time in a few weeks, a bomb blast in the nation's capital Abuja, located in southern Nigeria, which is mostly Christian, has resulted in death, injuries and destruction.

1 Bomb Blast Nigerian capital May 1, 2014.jpg

The Islamic army Boko Haram, which took credit for the earlier blast, is considered responsible for this attack.

At the same time protests are spreading across the nation about Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 200 teenaged girls from a school in northern Nigeria.

Nigeria's population is approximately 50% Muslim and 50% Christian and native religions. Nigeria is not only Africa's most populous country, its GDP is now greater even than that of South Africa.

Blast Hits Nigerian Capital as Protests Spread Over 220 Missing Students

Islamist Militants Seized Girls Nearly Three Weeks Ago; Continued Uncertain Fate Raises Public Outcry

by Drew Hinshaw and Gbenga Seun Ijagba
WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 2, 2014

Nigerians held protests in several cities across the country on Thursday to call for action to rescue over two hundred schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

A bomb ripped through a neighborhood just minutes from the presidential palace in Abuja, less than a week before Nigeria hosts its biggest business gathering in generations--a World Economic Forum meant to fete its rising favor among investors.

At least 15 people died in the 8:25 p.m. blast, said eyewitness Hassan Abdullahi, who counted bodies strewed about the road. A police spokesman put the death toll at 12, with 16 wounded, several of the victims cabdrivers or everyday Nigerians commuting home from work.

They nearly included Patrick Godiya, who came to the area to buy herbs, and crossed the streets seconds before the blast: "I would have been dead," said the dumbstruck individual on Thursday night.

The blast occurred near the same Nyanya bus station where an April 14 bomb killed 72 people. And it capped an extraordinary few weeks in Nigeria. Just as the country is attempting to position itself on the global stage as a rising, muscular new frontier economy, a fusillade of bomb blasts from an Islamic insurgency called Boko Haram, drawn from this country's deeply poor, is interceding.

On Thursday, protests spread over the government's failure to secure the release of more than 200 teenage girls still held by Islamist militants nearly three weeks after they were seized flared up Thursday across Nigeria.

Demonstrations over the government's alleged ineptitude took place in Lagos, the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna, where a hundred women carried placards, many reading, "Free Our Daughters!"

Nearly three weeks ago, Islamist fighters seized 273 teenage girls from their boarding school in northern Nigeria. The girls' uncertain fate threatens to swell into a public scandal in a country otherwise numb to constant terror attacks.

Some 220 of the girls are still unaccounted for, according to the school's principal, Asabe Kwambura, and the stories of those lucky enough to have escaped, of being forced by Boko Haram members into menial labor or of some of their schoolmates being sold as sex slaves, have captivated and horrified the Nigerian public.

Amnesty International says that Boko Haram was responsible for the deaths of more than 1,500 people during the first three months of this year. The dead included college students burned alive in their dormitories, villagers shot in their mud-brick homes, children ripped apart by car bombs and truckers dragged from their cabs and torn to death by chain saws, according to eyewitness accounts. These atrocities underscored a point Boko Haram never seems to tire of making: Nigeria can't protect its citizens.

Yet this violence, for all its brutality, rarely elicited much more than a patchy recitation of events in daily newspapers. Presidential statements expressing condolences were rare. Even as the death toll mounted early this year, nightly news programs continued to revolve around the activities of ministers and business figures. Life continued mostly as normal for this bustling economy growing at a brisk 7.9%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The girls' kidnapping and protracted captivity, however, has profoundly shaken the country. For weeks, politicians have broken ranks with President Goodluck Jonathan to declare their dismay about the authorities' inability to locate the girls. Several Nigerian websites feature clocks showing how many days, hours, minutes and seconds have passed since the girls were seized.

Many Nigerians say they are following every word from the girls' distraught parents. Several of the girls' fathers have ventured into the woods with bows and arrows to confront the sect themselves. They have come back empty-handed.

The view of Uche Agbai, a radio presenter who attended the protest in Lagos on Thursday, is shared by an expanding number of Nigerians.

"The way the Nigerian government is responding to it is just really sad," Mr. Agbai said. "We don't see any investigation being carried out. We don't see the president or his aides saying this is the progress we have so far."

Nigeria's government says it is making every effort to find the girls. The day after they were kidnapped, Mr. Jonathan convened his security team for an emergency meeting, his spokesman said. Now the government says it believes that the girls have been taken to neighboring Cameroon.

Cameroon ridicules the suggestion. "That is a hoax," said Augustin Fonka Awah, governor of Cameroon's Far North Region. "Instead, kidnappers take people hostages from Cameroon into Nigeria."

The timing of the girls' kidnapping and the crisis of public confidence that has ensued couldn't be worse for the government. Last month, Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa and the 24th largest in the world. Abuja's hosting of next week's World Economic Forum amounts to the country's biggest coming-out party in generations.

--Emmanuel Tumanjong in Yaounde, Cameroon, contributed to this article

Despite Obama's claim that Bin Laden's death by Navy Seals meant that al-Qaeda was on the run and no longer a force to be reckoned with, the attacks on and murders of Americans in Benghazi by an al-Qaeda affiliate proved that boast to be presumptuous and wrong.

Al-Qaeda is actually stronger and more of a danger than it was when Ben Laden was alive. The entire Middle East is in flames (except for Israel) and Islamic militancy has never been more active as it has spread across northern Africa and down into western and central Africa. Christians are being terrorized and murdered in northern Nigeria (more than 5,000 in the past four years alone), Islamic soldiers invaded the mostly Christian country of the Central African Republic two years ago, threw out the government, took control and began uprooting and killing Christians and burning their homes. Uncounted tens of thousands were killed, many horribly. The Christians finally mobilized and drove the Islamic army out, regained control of the government and, in retaliation, have driven most all of the Muslims who had been living there out of the country.

Those are just examples. Read this State Department report just released and this report authored by a retired CIA official. His closing observation is telling: "Bin Laden may be history, but history may only be beginning for those he inspired."

The reports are frightening. They underscore that there is a growing, direct danger to the United States from Islam's followers.

The paralysis of the Obama administration has without question contributed to this upsurge in Islamic militancy and success. Yet not a word of condemnation or caution comes out of the White House about these Islamic threats. Obama can condemn a cartoon video making fun of Mohammad, but he doesn't condemn the kidnapping of Nigerian teenagers by Islamic militants for sex.

We reported earlier on the attacks on Christians by Islamic fanatics in northern Nigeria, including a recent outrage, the kidnapping of some 200 teen age girls from school, presumably to be used as cooks, cleaning help and sex slaves.

Now we learn from an AP report in the Boston Globe that the girls are being sold as wives to Muslim fighters for $12 and forced to marry them.

Girls being forced to wed abductors
Anger in Nigeria at lack of action in kidnappings
By Michelle Faul in the Boston Globe for the Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamist extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday.

At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students' fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader said.

He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites.

The message was sent to a member of a presidential committee mandated last year to mediate a ceasefire with the Islamist extremists, said the civic leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the talks.

The news of negotiations comes as parents say the girls are being sold into marriage to Boko Haram militants. The students are being paid $12 to marry the fighters, Halite Aliyu of the Borno-Yobe People's Forum said. She said the parents' information about mass weddings is coming from villagers in the Sambisa Forest, on Nigeria's border with Cameroon, where Boko Haram is known to have hideouts.

''The latest reports are that they have been taken across the borders, some to Cameroon and Chad,'' Aliyu said.

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