Friday, December 31, 2010

Nigeria Christmas bombings

On Christmas a number of Christian facilities were attacked in Nigeria. A prime suspect for the bombings was swiftly named: Boko Haram, a salafî jihâdî group (no idea why they are often called "sect" by the media while groups with roughly the same ideology are "terrorist groups" to them) that it had cracked down on in 2009 killing the then time leader Muhammad Yûsuf. Following the crack down Boko Haram was announced dead by the Nigerian government/police.

They were obviously wrong. It seems that the former second in command Abû Bakr Shekaû has taken over. A written speech purportedly by him was released in October. The statement was a message on the Muslim holiday of 'Aîd al Fitr. Surprisingly the speech was released by AQMI (AQ Islamic Maghrib - means North Africa) media front al Andalus.

A photo showing Abû Bakr released with his 'Aîd al Fitr speech - released October 2010

The last months have seen a steady comeback of the group that seems to be intent on revenge against the police. The group also uses religious unrest that occurs between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria by targeting Christians thereby creating an image of them being the defenders of Nigeria's Muslims.

Such anti-Christian attacks took place last week, the attacks triggered clashes between followers of the two religions that led to higher casualties than the original bombings.

The media reported a claim of responsibility by the group yet it has still not appeared on the usual forums. The website that carried the groups claim and is said to belong to the group is offline by now, the statement is still available in English thanks to Google though.


In the Name of Allah Most Beneficent Most Merciful

Present

A STATEMENT REGARDING JOS AND BORNO ATTACKS

In the name of Allah the mighty Who has power over everything, Who made fighting the disbelievers an obligation until justice is established on earth.

May peace and blessings continue to be upon the last messenger who wage jihad, the best of it.
O Nations of the World, be informed that verily the attacks in Suldaniyya (Jos) and Borno on the eve of Christmas was carried out by us, JAMA’ATU AHLUS-SUNNAH LIDDA’AWATI WAL JIHAD, under the leadership of Abu Muhammad, Abubakar bin Muhammad Shekau (May Allah preserve him), to start avenging the atrocities committed against Muslims in those areas, and the country in general. Therefore we will continue with our attacks on disbelievers and their allies and all those who help them, until Allah’s deen triumph by His Grace and Will.
O Muslims! Do not forget that Allah has enjoined us to make provisions for fighting the disbelievers, and for that we are reminding you that the disbelievers of the world are fighting Islam and Muslims. So you must stand and strive to protect your religion and life.
With Peace
JAMA’ATU AHLUS-SUNNAH LIDDA’AWATI WAL JIHAD
Who is waging Jihad in the country called Nigeria.


The video is accompanied by a video statement. To my knowledge this is the first video released by the group. The name the group is using "Jam'âh Ahl al-Sunnah lil-D'wah wal Jihâd (Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihâd) has been used by the group before, for example in Abû Bakr's speech.


Screenshot of  the Christmas bombings claim video that was released last week

Right now there are reports of a new bombing in Nigeria, this time targeting a New Year's Eve celebration in the capital. If Boko Haram is behind this it is a worrying sign and maybe the uptick for a troublesome year in Nigeria.

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For further reading on Nigeria see Alex Thurston's Sahel Blog.

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