Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 13, 2012

Nigeria and Egypt: two flashpoints, two alternate paths, two prospects for the next decade and beyond

Filed under: International HLS,Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on January 13, 2012

Aftermath of Christmas Day attack on St. Theresa’s Church near Abuja, Nigeria

On December 25 an attack on a Christian church in Nigeria killed 37,  related attacks since have killed another thirty-four and potentially more. Credit has been claimed by Boko Haram, an organization calling for the expulsion of Christians and the expansion of Islamic sharia law in Northern Nigeria. (Boko Haram can be translated as “Western education is a sin.”)

On December 28 the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) released a statement including:

Having reviewed the pattern trend and frequency with which these terror crimes occur, it fits into the profile of Islamic Jihad over the years on the Christian community, which are properly contextualised. It is considered as a declaration of war on Christians and Nigeria as an entity.

The Christian community has found the responses of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and other Islamic bodies on this matter to be unacceptable and an abdication of their responsibilities over their extremist members. It is on record that most religious, traditional and political leaders in the North have not come out openly to condemn the extremist activities of Boko Haram. We hold them responsible for what is happening, because they have not taken concrete steps to check the excesses of their members.

The Christian community is fast losing confidence in government’s ability to protect our rights to religious liberties and life. The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide would be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and properties.

Sectarian conflict is not new to Nigeria. In the past the Christian “response” has included attacks on Muslims. But Bako Haram has increased the stakes by launching what appears to be a sustained and organized anti-Christian campaign that also targets Muslims who reject  Boko Haram.

According to the BBC several Islamic leaders who have criticized previous attacks by Boko Haram have been assassinated.  Still, last week  Alhaji Muhammad Garba, a Muslim political leader from Northern Nigeria, said, “Boko Haram is not recognised by genuine Muslims… Why should such a group be asking Muslims to bomb churches and fight Christians? It is wrong for any group to wage war against other faith. Such people are not true believers of God.”

Boko Haram is seen by some as part of a much wider movement.  According to the Daily Telegraph, Boko Haram “is believed to be morphing into a new pan-African jihadist franchise, forging links with both al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which operates in the vast Sahara region north of Nigeria, and al-Shebab in Somalia.”

In September the General who leads U.S. Africa Command told the Associated Press that the three movements pose a “significant threat” not only in the areas in which they operate but also to the United States.

Those three organizations have very explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target Westerners and the U.S. specifically,” Gen Carter Ham said. “I have questions about their ability to do so; I have no question about their intent to do so, and that to me is very worrying… So if left unaddressed, you could have a [terrorist] network that ranges from East Africa through the center” and into the Sahel, an area of north-central Africa south of the Sahara desert, Ham said. To varying degrees, these groups are affiliated with or inspired by al-Qaida’s central organization in Pakistan.

The Nigerian President has declared a State of Emergency in four northern States and mobilized military forces to take action against Boko Haram.  According to Radio France, “Hundreds of people fled their homes in Potsikum, north-east Nigeria, Saturday following all-night gun battles between Islamists and the security forces… Residents of the Dogo Tehbo and Dogo Nini areas fled their homes Saturday, telling reporters they feared that soldiers would attack their homes, as they have been accused of doing in Maidiguiri.”

–+–

An Egyptian woman joins other Muslims as “human shields” for celebration of Coptic Christmas mass

Christmas was welcomed on a different date — and with a different tone — in strife-torn Egypt.

Coptic Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus on January 7.  According to Al-Ahram:

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. (see photo gallery) From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

According to The Guardian:

At the start of the festive celebrations in Egypt, prominent figures from across the political spectrum, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the ruling military council, attended Friday night mass at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral.

The Coptic pope, Shenouda III, commended their presence and appealed for national unity for “the sake of Egypt”.

He said: “For the first time in the history of the cathedral, it is packed with all types of Islamist leaders in Egypt. They all agree … on the stability of this country, and in loving it and working for it, and to work with the Copts as one hand for the sake of Egypt.”

The call for unity follows an escalation in violence against the Christian minority, an estimated 10% of Egypt’s 85 million people, over the past year.

In October at least 25 Christians were killed by Egyptian military and para-military forces. Violence against Christians in Egypt has escalated since the opening of the Arab Spring.

–+–

There are advocates of violence in Egypt.  There are many voices for reconciliation in Nigeria.  Which alternative will emerge stronger is not clear.  Some level of sectarian violence will persist.

In any case, near-term prospects for Muslim-Christian conflict in Nigeria and Egypt — and in much of northeast Africa, central Asia, southern Philippines, and in many pockets of urban Europe — are trending higher.  Dozens, likely hundreds, will be killed in an effort to preserve someone’s narcissistic sense of God. So-called Muslims will specifically target Christians.  So-called Christians will specifically target Muslims.

This is a different dynamic than has marked the last decade.

Al-Qaeda has mostly been trying to reform Islam.  AQ has used “Crusaders” as an anvil against which to sharpen its sword of intra-Islamic transformation.  The Taliban are mostly religiously motivated Pashtuns who are most concerned about preserving communal values.  Wahhabis are principally concerned about purity of Islamic practice.  The Shia clerical establishment can be preoccupied with differentiation from Sunnis, a mind-set mirrored by Wahhabis.

Monday in his remarks to the Vatican diplomatic corps Pope Benedict XVI specifically called out his concern for violence against Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere.  On January 2, Open Doors — “serving persecuted Christians worldwide” — announced, “Islamic-majority countries top 2o12 watch list.” There is increasing concern, clamor and sympathy for Christians under attack.

Accusations of Christian attacks on Muslims are as abundant.  Tuesday a Muslim mosque and school in mostly-Christian southern Nigeria was attacked.  At least five were killed.

–+–

I do not have a neatly packaged policy prescription.  I doubt anything the United States government can do will have more than glancing influence. Not adding fuel to the fire would be helpful. Containing or resolving the conflict depends mostly on those people of good will standing athwart the sectarian fault lines.

As important as US policy is probably the behavior of Americans who identify with those on one side or the other of the fault lines.

This is complicated enough that I feel justified drawing on another’s complicated diagnosis.   Here’s how Martin Buber describes our embrace of self and otherness and its implications.

The It-world hangs together in space and time.

The You-world does not hang together in space and time.

The individual You must become an It when the event of relation has run its course.

The individual It can become a You by entering into the event of relation.

These are the two basic privileges of the It-world. They induce man to consider the It-world as the world in which one has to live and also can live comfortably — and that even offers us all sorts of stimulations and excitements, activities and knowledge. In this firm and wholesome chronicle the You-moments appear as queer lyric-dramatic episodes. Their spell may be seductive, but they pull us dangerously to extremes, loosening the well-tried structure, leaving behind more doubt than satisfaction, shaking up our security — altogether uncanny, altogether indispensable. Since one must after all return into “the world,” why not stay in it in the first place? Why not call to order that which confronts us and send it home into objectivity? And when one cannot get around saying You, perhaps to one’s father, wife, companion — why not say You and mean It? After all, producing the sound “You” with one’s vocal cords does not by any means entail speaking the uncanny basic word. Even whispering an amorous You with one’s soul is hardly dangerous as long as in all seriousness one means nothing but experiencing and using.

One cannot live in the pure present: it would consume us if care were not taken that it is overcome quickly and thoroughly. But in pure past one can live; in fact, only there can a life be arranged. One only has to fill every moment with experiencing and using, and it ceases to burn.

And in all the seriousness of truth, listen: without It a human being cannot live. But whoever lives only with that is not human.

(Martin Buber, Ich und Du, as translated by Walter Thompson)

For anything resembling our current It-world to truly hold together, Christians and Muslims (and others as well) will need to more often relate as You’s rather than It’s.

There is also a simpler — and even less likely — solution.  Another Buber quote suggests the way: “The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.”

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6 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 13, 2012 @ 8:55 am

Some remarkable statistics at least to me. First, over 10 million in Egypt are Christians, mostly Coptic. Second, Nigeria now exceeds 50% of its population as worshipers of various forms of Islam. Apparently, like Christianity there are over 50 forms of Islam. Sects?

But underlying the current status of both countries is the foreign policy and their foreign relations with the USA. In Egypt there is no question that the US supported a military dictatorship for over 40 years. Why? Since Egypt has NO oil largely to stem Egyptian anti-Israeli policy.

AS to Nigeria, US foreign policies there are all about its oil resources which the US oil companies have plundered and allowed the largely authoritarian governments to survive by oil sales and corruption.

So expect this terrific post to resonate for the rest of the Century as the Arab Spring dies in Egypt largely as a result of US connivance and in Nigeria to probably result in US intervention to protect access to oil resources for American companies.

Did I mention that both countries face drastic and difficult environmental issues this century? Egypt from its dams, including ASWAN. And Nigeria from the various problems generated by repeated and extensive oil spills and accidents that have permanently damaged the Nigeria geography.

Oh and did I mention where African Command of the USA military is housed? NOT IN AFRICA!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 13, 2012 @ 10:20 am

Did I mention that most of the DC cabbies are Nigerian nationals?

Comment by US Foriegn Policy: Not A Clue...What A Pity! Destined For Failure....

January 14, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

US foreign policy has whatsoever no reach back to historical reference, prefers the snubbing of Biblical scripture and prophesy and fails to possess the reality in objective understanding that US and Great Britain rest on the past rather than embrace the reality of the evolving power and revival of American and Britain’s worst enemy who on the 9th December marked what what Guardian Editor, Ian Traynor described, “When the dust settles, Friday December 9 may be seen as a watersehd, the beginning of the end for Britain in Europe. But more than that – the emergence for the first time of a cold new Europe in which – Germany – is the undisputed, preeminent power imposing a decade of austerity on the eurozone as the price for propping up the currency.”

It is with stern warning that We must look not only at Nigerian and Egypt, especially Egypt to see the strength of Islamic fundamentalists who will eventually be dealt a swif blow by the German led EU fast deployment forces supported by a power driven and continued corrupt Vatican as it continues its relationship w/the Assyrians….

I have spoken what scripture has clearly stated about a ten (10) nation European power and now that Britain has pulled out of the EU with many seeing quite clearly that the planned plot of the Germans to move Britain aside has now paved the way for the Assyrians to d what they have always done best….depicted the war-like nature that has been proven of them as we have seen in history.

Today, as US foreign policy led by Ivy-league graduates who have little credible perception are blind to America’s real enemy led by the descendants of the Assyrians. In fact, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in March, 1973: “Britain is going to look back on Monday, January 1st, 1973, in all prpbability, as a most tragically historic date – a date fraught with ominous ptentialities! For the date marked tne United Kingdo’s entry into the European Community.” In fact, it was Margaret Thatcher in 1995 that stated clearly, “You have not achored Germany to Europe, you have anchored Europe to a newly dominant, unified Germany.” Recall that Winston Churchill also warned that the Germans were prone to betray their supposed friends and surprise and shock them by some suden act —

In HLSWatch.com, we see many enlightened folks, brilliant in so much insightfulness who make grateful constribution in expressing and conveying their perspective towards global conflict and economic uncertainty, however I think it time that everyne of us who truly care about humanity read and reread, Ezekiel! In particular, read Ezekiel verse 4, 5 and begin too research what is being told to us — then read very closely and learn just what is happening today by reading verse 6-9 and the illicit love affair between America, Britain and Germany….then read: Ezekiel 23:36!

Pls do note that NOW the EU Central Bank is at the discretioon of Mari Draghi, a Jesuit-trained Roman Catholic. The emergent church-state combine is a reality and danger!

Listen, wake up as this is all going to get far worse. Egypt is going to fall into Islamic fundamentalist hands for certain. Iraq is to fall to Iran. Britain, now publicly the enemy of Germany, Brussels will take strict action against t6he Britis imposing painful new legislation. The elitists have clear focus and intent to destroy w/o even a WMD fired – for now…Don’t think for one minute that German WMD’s will strike US cities — it is time to take every one of our 108 nukes off EU soil and place them strategically in the US – NOW!

As a Judeo-Christian nation, read His Olivet prophecy in Matthew 24.

See Germany’s export of weapns and defence products to where, i.e., 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia and exports to the enemies of Iran –

Know what the Psalm 83 alliance is all about – the US State department has no concept as to the relevance of the Psalm 83 alliance.

Watch with close scrutiny the new relationship forged by Hamas and Fatah! The meeting in Cairo on 11th November speaks volumes about the new partnership and the effect on the palestinan people and the rising influence and dominance oof the Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem will fall to those willing to whatever it takes…

I laugh when I hear of the US military even thinking of warning Iranians about closing the Strait of Hormuz. US military experts know what will happen if such action takes place and it will not be easy – however don’t fret over the exchange or words and a strong warning to the Iranians…close the strategic waterway and your underestimation of the Germans and you the “Brutes of Tehran” will be scratching your heads as to hoow quickly the Europeans respond. Parviz Sarvari states, “If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure.” I say to the Iranians, “Just try it and you will truly see which end of prophesy is written of you. Do Not underestimate Germany”!

Russia and China will be cooperating with Pakistan in the coming months…and as you see quite clearly, Qatar and Saudi officials in handclasp to the Arab League will assure that Syria’s relationship w/Iran will terminate and soon to jloin the Arab coalition….

Watch closely Morocco…whereby much of the King’s power was transferred to parliament and to the prime minister. Guess what, the Islamic Justice and Development Party is very much comprised of the Muslim Brotherhood!

In closing and emphasizing that when looking at Egypt and Nigeria, look at all that is related and read and reread your Bible. Turn off the television and run to vote the “Good ‘ol Beltway Bandits” and this Chicago community organizer, spokesperson for the “Goldman Sachs” elitists out of office….

Remember, a beer on the WH lawn will Not ever work out any problems and the intent to even suggest such a meeting only clarified the elitist mannerisms of the WH!

By the way, it is time that the US and Britain begin to manufacture weapons and ammunition to be utilized by only the two nations. Like the EU alliance being formed between South America and Brussels in trade, it is time for asn alliance whereby especially Britain becomes a much better defened nation. It has been reported that the British frigate HMS Westminister had just two rounds of Seawolf missiles aboard – W/no aircraft carrier and none to borrow, it is time to revive a new austerity program and ask the British people to invite the new American administration next November to help strengthen the British Royal Navy and both US and Brits should read Matthew 24:21-22. Germany’s sword is being sharpened.

In America, more support should be given to the folks at the NSA, US military spending should be streamlined and waste ended. More preparedness against Cyberwarfare and Cyberterrorism should be at the top of our list to fund, though Israel will be duped by the Germans and unless the US and Britain change their ways in a large degree, Israel, Britain and our beloved Republic in relationships is very cleatly described in (lamentatioons 1:1-2; Hosea 2:13; and Ezekiel in verses 5, 7, 9, and 12!

Read Isaiah 10:5-6 whereby in essence, “O, Assyrian, the rod of my anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypoocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.”

Too the Israelies, “Ezekiel 7:14″ should tell you much and most assuredly repent and quite possibly the Germn led EU and Vatican’s ploy will be altered and the prophetic beat power of Revelations 13 and 17 will not be empowered, yet given the verses of Ezekiel 5:12; Jeremiah 7:15; Hosea 9:3-6; Daniel 11:42; Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21 and more as You read and understand the reality which We face and Not what some political self-serving WH and both sides of the aisle perceive with such disregard for God’s word…pray for it is apparent We will again face the wrath of calamity and the veil of Lucifer swept over so many….

Become truly enlightened and walk the walk and never mind listening to the Cambrdige elitists and banker pals filling their own coffers….

God Bless our beloved Republic and our US constitution!

Fly your front porch flags upside down depicting the real distress We here on “Main Street USA” now confront….

Christopher Tingus
“Bibles With Love”
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 16, 2012 @ 6:39 am

Mr. Tingus:

I am hesitant, very hesitant, but I will respond in three ways.

First, I am concerned that I perceive in your comment a reduction of the “other” similar to what is fueling religious hatred in Nigeria, Egypt, and elsewhere. (I have decided that my inclination to not respond to you has a similar motivation.)

Second, the fear and anger that I read in your comment is another combustible that is contrary to my understanding of how to helpfully engage a very complex context.

Third, I probably would not have responded except for the psalm assigned for my Monday morning meditation. In Psalm 50 is found:

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and pay your vows to the Most High…
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honour me;
to those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God.

In working with the Hebrew, I hear:

Confess, give thanks, shout praises, and enter into a covenant of peace with God.

With self-awareness, other-awareness, gladness and joy come to know God.

This is the liturgy of freedom, fulfillment, and deliverance.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » More inter-religious violence in Nigeria

January 21, 2012 @ 10:14 am

[...] As outlined previously, the potential emergence of  an explicit inter-religious war in Nigeria would have potentially significant ramifications well beyond Nigeria. Share and Enjoy: Tweet This Post Permalink | | Comment on this Post » [...]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Guardian exclusive: Boko Haram states its goals

January 28, 2012 @ 6:51 am

[...] Prior posts have given attention to the potential for widening inter-religious conflict in Nigeria.   It has been difficult to find authoritative and coherent statements by those taking credit for the most sustained attacks: the so-called Boko Haram.  There is an exclusive interview today’s Guardian newspaper that offers some of what has been missing. The Islamist group Boko Haram, which has killed almost 1,000 people in Nigeria, will continue its campaign of violence until the country is ruled by sharia law, a senior member has told the Guardian. [...]

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