Boko Haram: Insulting Islam and serving imperialism

By Ameen Izzadeen
The more barbaric Boko Haram terrorists become, the more it becomes clear that they are willingly serving imperialist forces.
That they are a bunch of criminals and terrorists is beyond doubt. They have hijacked Islam and turned it upside down to suit their criminal and depraved agendas. How can any religion justify the horrendous act of kidnapping teenage school girls and forcing them to marry their abductors who are heartless killers while their parents cry in agony, not knowing what the fate of their children is? If the girls do not comply, Boko Haram leader Abu Bakr Shekau has warned, they will be sold as slaves.
“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said in a video statement that was subsequently telecast worldwide through all major channels.
Now which Muslim imam or scholar will endorse such a preposterous statement? Even hardcore jihadists are furious and have condemned Boko Haram. On websites supportive of the al-Qaeda, comments have been posted censuring Boko Haram. The term literally means in Hausa language that “western education is forbidden’. The etymology of the term is traced to the colonial period during which the native people in what is now Nigeria’s eastern region resisted western education arguing that it was a means by which the colonialists tried to convert them to Christianity.
Though the group appears to take cover behind a colonial era slogan to justify its terror which has killed more than 10,000 people in the past ten years, its leaders have no qualms about using weapons and hi-tech communications equipment which are western inventions. They are worse than the Taliban, because the Taliban banned western education only to girls in schools but allowed them to be taught at home by visiting female teachers, most of whom were paid by United Nations agencies.
Education is universal. It cannot be categorised as western, eastern or Islamic. Islam’s prophet has said that knowledge is the lost property of the Muslims; wherever they see it they should grab it. Stressing the importance Islam gives to education and urging action against Boko Haram, Malala Yousufazi, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban for championing education for girls, told BBC: “if we remain silent then this will spread, this will happen more and more and more”.
Nigeria’s Islamic scholars have declared Boko Haram anti-Islamic and an embarrassment to Islam while the Coalition of Muslim Clerics in Nigeria (CMCN) has called on the group to disarm and embrace peace. The group has also been condemned by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and several Muslim organisations worldwide.
The April 14 abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls was followed by a similar abduction on Sunday with 11 more girls aged 12 to 15 being seized. The two incidents have created a global outrage and a demand for international action to bring the girls home.
It is here that Boko Haram is serving the imperialists and paving the way for them to come and do a job the Nigerian military is capable of doing but has not done so yet, for mysterious reasons. Nigeria is an African superpower. It has militarily intervened in African conflicts and given leadership to African peace keeping missions in several countries. The failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to crush Boko Haram militarily has not only drawn condemnation from the parents of the missing girls but also raised questions as to whether he is inviting global powers to deal with Boko Haram.
With Western corporate media raising the ante for military intervention, US President Barack Obama has described the abductions as “heartbreaking” and “outrageous”, and announced that a team of military experts had been sent to help Nigeria’s rescue mission. They have set up a special operation unit in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. The US military experts, including those from its Africa Command Africom, work together with Nigerian defence officials to plan a joint operation to take on the terrorists.
Also sending special teams are Britain and France, while China has promised Nigeria that it will supply “any useful information” acquired by its satellites and intelligence services.
But there is no altruism in politics. The US is probably making use of the Boko Haram terror to gain a foothold in Nigeria and other Western African countries to counter the growing Chinese influence in Africa. Nigeria is strategically important as it is the largest African exporter of oil to the United States.
In recent years, US efforts aimed at setting up military facilities in several African countries such as Ghana, Somalia and Kenya have failed. At present, only Djibouti houses a permanent base for Africom. Last month, Africom staged a series of naval exercises in the seas off West Africa. The exercises codenamed Obangame Express 2014 involved Nigeria and ten other West African countries, Nato allies and Brazil.
Now the US has found a friend in Goodluck Jonathan. After he became President, intelligence and military ties between Washington and Abuja are growing. The US involvement in Negira as advisors reminds one of the Vietnam war. The US sent initially only 500 advisors to help the South Vietnam military against the Vietcong guerrillas, but over the years, the number grew to 500,000. Will Nigeria see a swell of US soldiers and a permanent base?
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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