After Grisly Mosque Attack, Nigeria’s Boko Haram Terrorist Group Calls Out Obama

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Sunday Alamba / AP

Nigerian soldiers guard ‘Id al-Fitr prayers at Ramat Square in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on Aug. 8, 2013

Konduga is a tiny community on the banks of a river in northeastern Nigeria. Its residents are mostly farmers who are accustomed to a simple life filled with days that pass like the one before. That has recently changed, as an insurgency waged by Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram has spilled over from the heart of the war, in nearby city Maiduguri, and into the rural reaches of Borno state, where Konduga is located.

And on Sunday morning, things changed irrevocably for the worse. Gunmen burst into a mosque where scores of people were praying and started shooting, leaving at least 44 dead. A day later, Boko Haram released a new video taunting the leaders of the U.S., France and Israel.

In the battle against Boko Haram, vigilante groups working in Maiduguri and outside of the city calling themselves the Civilian Joint Task Force — modeled after the Joint Task Force of soldiers and police fighting Boko Haram — have entered the fray. They pursue and hand over suspected Boko Haram members to the military in an effort to make their communities safer. The vigilantes have the blessing of Nigeria’s government and some are armed. But their guerrilla campaign may have also angered Boko Haram.

(MORE: Inside Nigeria’s Risky War)

“The mosque attack was likely a form of warning to Muslims to not cooperate with the joint task force, both the civilian and the regular ones,” says Virginia Comolli, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “And this is a probably a form of retaliation for the civilian joint task forces operating in the area, which are growing in prominence and confidence.”

Now that the Nigerian government has declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states (including Borno) while it wages its most extensive air and ground operation to root out Boko Haram, bodies are piling up again, except for the most wanted one: that of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. The U.S. government is offering a $7 million reward for information leading to Shekau’s capture. Under the zealous, isolated Shekau, Boko Haram has received training and funding from al-Qaeda-allied militants in the Sahel, a vast region with porous borders, and as far east as the Horn of Africa. And consequently, the group’s jihadist vision has grown more internationalist. Witnesses report having seen Boko Haram move into neighboring Niger, where, along with bordering countries Cameroon and Chad, the militants are potentially regrouping.

On a recent trip to Maiduguri, most imams refused to speak of Boko Haram after several of them had been assassinated for criticizing the group. One imam said the militants attacked mosques and Muslims because they were not devoted to Boko Haram’s extremist cause. “Now the insurgents believe that if they kill the imams, they will take over as the religious leaders,” he says. The group, which has long criticized the Muslim community for not being strict enough and said that imams are too susceptible to Western influence, has killed over 3,000 Muslims and Christians since 2009.

In the new video obtained by Agence France-Presse, Boko Haram leader Shekau confirmed that he was alive and in “good health” after rumors that he had been killed. He dared U.S. President Barack Obama, French President François Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come after him, saying in Hausa, the regional language of northern Nigeria: “I’m challenging Obama.” He added: “They are no match for me.”

The military and police have certainly been challenged. On Aug. 4, the military said two soldiers and one police officer had been killed when Boko Haram members attacked a military base and police post in Bama, a town in Borno. But over the weekend, they admitted that actually 12 soldiers and seven police officers had been killed. The government says it has initiated an amnesty program to allow militants to return to their homes, and it pardoned a group of women and children found at captured Boko Haram bases. The children said they had been given as little as $31 to set fire to schools in the northeast.

Still, Solomon Dalung, a member of the Northern Elders Forum, which has advised Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on combatting the terrorists, says the government is not sincere in its efforts to engage Boko Haram in dialogue and to comprehensively tackle the roots of Boko Haram — which include poverty, unemployment and a generation of alienated youth in the country’s majority-Muslim north. Boko Haram’s appeal to Nigerians who feel marginalized by the government is significant. “The state of emergency has not stemmed the tide of violence,” he says. “We are in a helpless situation.”

47 comments
sweepsterbarb
sweepsterbarb

Why don't some muslim leaders declair a jihad on the terrorist groups. Then it would be the duty of good muslims to destroy them and foreigners would not have to be involved. I'm probably missing something here, but why not?

rashidgill5
rashidgill5

@TIME I don't know any Nigerian group. But what do you want bankrupt US to do? Bomb Nigeria?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

gotta love that peaceful religion

michaelbrown
michaelbrown

It is a saying that has been used many times before and it may be simple, but it is true. Look at history and much of the world's violence is thanks to one common thing....religion.

Know religion, no peace. No religion, know peace.

MartianSkywalke
MartianSkywalke

@TIME @TIMEWorld What a moron, he is destroying his own country and seems to be enjoying. Obama is the most powerful man in the world..idiot

MichaelServetus1
MichaelServetus1

The root cause is the cult of Islam not poverty. They obviously have money and time to buy weapons and wage war. Islam is a self alienating and other alienating and marginalizing religion.

adamsabonu
adamsabonu

@TIME Manifestation of a deranged personality. Only time will tell!

Leyaquette
Leyaquette

@TIME @TIMEWorld Sir, this wretched n beserk creature has gone bonkers n is challenging POTUS 2 seek media's attention 2 be in d news flash?

BobFlynn
BobFlynn

muslims are peace loving people

cdblnr
cdblnr

Does anybody still read TIME?  You are a joke, a left wing, Obama loving joke of a rag.

fzakhan
fzakhan

@TIME It is unfair to associate terror with Islam.

philip.smeeton
philip.smeeton

The is no limit to the depths of iniquity that islamists are willing to stoop. Stay well out of all conflicts involving Muslims and strengthen our own defences against them.

drudown
drudown

And this matters, how exactly?

It seems the Media is just running more and more "scare stories" than ever. We live in a society where any random gun owner can decide to mow down the rest of us in the wrong "place and the wrong time (say, because said shooter was on Food Stamps because his manufacturing job was "outsourced" by Portman under the Bush Administration). So from whence comes this misplaced notion some corrupt warlord in flipping Africa is going to, what, hurt the United States with his shopworn threats?

We can crush rogue groups or even entire States as easily as King Augustus the Strong would crush a pewter plate.

Enough of this "fear" the Al Qaeda boogeyman baloney. If we die, we die. America is tired being told they have to be afraid of illusory threats abroad or hash over past crimes (e.g., Benghazi). It's a violent world we live in. That's why we have the military might we do and why alienating Russia and the EU over useless spying programs that violate our own government's Bill of Rights is wrong and not right.

Leyaquette
Leyaquette

@TIME Sir, leaders of US n France r 0 even aware of this dorky dolt Islamist's existence. The Jews aren't bothered, He needed a media flash

TR
TR

This guy challenging President Obama, and saying he is "no match for me” is like signing his own death certificate. If President Obama is anything, he is neither shy nor timid. And he has sharp teeth when it's necessary. I wonder how long it will take before this Boko Haram leader Shekau "ceases to be a problem"?

anti-government
anti-government

Let's not let the actions of a small group of fanatics dictate the foreign policy of the USA.

We have much better things to do with our declining economy than continue our holy war against Islamic fundamentalists.

Let's make US foreign policy less about us always having to be right (and proving it with force) and let's learn how to live in peace with the rest of the world.

drudown
drudown

@Awwcrapola @TIME @TIMEWorld

Since President Obama has been in office, his agendas have led to (1) a stronger US dollar; (2) a lower deficit; (3) extricating ourselves from fiscally imprudent GOP occupations abroad; (4) lower Health Care premiums via Obamacare's competitive pricing component and (5) saving the auto industry. What, do you simpletons really think financial institutions and American industries are actually akin to organic things that "should be allowed to die"...like the GOP's "outsourced" jobs never transmuted into new ones at home? 

As such, perhaps you'd like to humor us with specifics as to how the GOP "lock-step" agendas of (1) deregulating markets; (2) starving the State of revenue; and (3) instituting wars based on false pretenses served the People in better, more fiscally prudent ways? Last time I checked, Iraq costs over $ 4 trillion.

Oh, and you conspicuously omit the fact the the Bush Tax Cuts did NOT lead to a stronger US Economy. "Trickle Down" Economics is a farce. Massive borrowing just leads to (1) a WEAKER US dollar and (2) budgetary scare tactics. So, I guess then VP Cheney was LYING when he said "deficits don't matter"...kind of like when Wolfowitz LIED that "the oil revenues alone will pay for the Iraq war." 

Wait, what were you about to add? That the last GOP put the NSA program and secret torture programs in place?

(cricket, cricket)

"It is a strange desire to seek power and lose liberty." - Francis Bacon

Ah, me- ominous foreshadowing of the "let's-scare-the-People" GOP.

anti-government
anti-government

@BobFlynn 

SOME MUSLIMS LOVE PEACE AND SOME DON'T

SOME JEWS LOVE PEACE AND SOME DON'T

SOME CHRISTIANS LOVE PEACE AND SOME DON'T

SOME ATHIESTS LOVE PEACE AND SOME DON'T

get the trend here, folks? you can't generalize about people based on religion.

drudown
drudown

@cdblnr

I find your conclusory babble to be far worse. And, just for the record, its the GOP's "no new taxes" policy that is bankrupting this Nation, coupled with two useless Arab occupations that the GOP foisted on the People based on lies and greed. Mere greed. 

So don't come here with your tone of authority, because your policies of "deregulation" (I take it you've never even heard of a 'credit-default swap') caused the Wall St. meltdown that, lo and behold, required Federal intervention and the Nanny State you purport to hate, just like GOP "outsourcing" created greater welfare dependency. That's the problem. You are too shortsighted and hot tempered to even take ownership of cause and effect. So, speak to the merits of a substantive policy debate or I shall take your failure to do so as an admission of my points' veracity.

MichaelServetus1
MichaelServetus1

Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

Fzakhan, You know not what you speak of. It is better you be silent than spread misinformation.

meddevguy
meddevguy

@fzakhan @TIME Would you not demand Christian clerics stop "Christian Fundamentalists" who kill in the name of their religion?

Would you not assume that all Christians are secretly glad because their religion will dominate by force?

samacq
samacq

@drudown  

I would only add to that the thousands of jobs that GM outsourced under OBAMA (who actually spoke publicly about the jobs it would bring to Detroit) after WE bailed them out.  Detroit got squat.

samacq
samacq

@anti-government  

Also less about unfair free trade, which has not been at all free to the American citizen.

Donplus
Donplus

@drudown @cdblnr 

This shows how ignorant and out of touch you guys are, the topic here was about 44 innocent ppl killed by terrorist but you are so quick to talk about yourself, GET YOU HEAD OUT OF YOU ASS 

MichaelServetus1
MichaelServetus1

Oh really. FZakhan, you know not what you speak of or you are a liar.

Bukhari (52:220) - Allah's Apostle said... 'I have been made victorious with terror.

drudown
drudown

@samacq @drudown 

I think the Bankruptcy of Detroit is the canary in a coal mine that the GOP and brethren refuse to hear: a "no new taxes, ever" agenda precludes the federal government from providing assistance and restructuring the Several States' debt at the same time, e.g., Congress can "attach strings" under its Tax and Spend power that touch and concerns Interstate Commerce.

I find it ironic that you fault President Obama for bailing out the auto industry when, in fact, it was the GOP policy of "deregulation" in the Banking/Financial Services Industry (e.g., failure to regulate credit-default swaps in the mortgage industry) that "cost" the taxpayers the most. Moreover, you presuppose that the local economies in Detroit did not materially benefit from keeping the auto industry employed. ALL those wages kept intact still circulate after-tax wages therein. 

anti-government
anti-government

@Donplus @drudown @cdblnr 44 dead people aren't worth ruining our liberties, trashing our Constitution or destroying our economy with vain efforts to remake the world in our fantasy image of ourselves.

We can't allow "terrorists" with bombs (after all, we've killed far more people with bombs than everyone else in world history combined) to dictate how we organize our priorities and move into he future.

Let's give up on FEAR as a motivating tactic and try MUTUAL RESPECT and PEACE.

Donplus
Donplus

@drudown @Donplus @cdblnr 

Wrong place and and topic, you lost the election and you cant stand that a Black Man is your President so everything he do or will try to do to BENEFIT YOUR IGNORANT ASS, everything including the drone program was started by Bush and then it was not a problem 

If you don't have anything to contribute as to the topic at hand being about the activity of Boko Haram and their terror acts I suggest you that you "LOCK IT UP" that I mean your mouth

drudown
drudown

@Donplus @drudown @cdblnr 

Ps perhaps you would care to elaborate upon why our own government of LIMITED POWERS has any real or imagined duty to use OUR TAX REVENUE to enforce a Police Power in Arab or African sovereigns? Because the GOP's campaign contributors want a perpetual "war on terror" in order to create a veritable "diversion" from the threat of, inter alia, Climate Change, the degradation of humanity's fresh water supply via "fracking" [see, e.g., documentary 'Gasland'] and the GOP's "let's starve the State of any revenue to hasten the demise of the Middle Class" agenda? Do tell, professor. We are all ears.

drudown
drudown

@Donplus @drudown @cdblnr 

You can uncritically adopt Bush/Cheney-speak all you like, but murder is murder is murder. The fact it is done purportedly as a form of "political speech" hardly warrants that we transmute our Criminal Procedure at home (e.g., turn the 4th Amendment case law on its head) by simply "labeling" felony murder "terrorism". 

Gee, are you really that concerned with the plight of indigenous Africans? Maybe Darfur or the Congo should be a greater "concern" than this "pseudo-news"....