Criminals: Passport Portrait of Boko Haram

Know your Enemy

It is better to have an enemy you know than an enemy you dont. But is it? The question is: better for who? To you, may be it is but to the one seeking to control you, it is better to have your enemy be unindentifiable. There are two ways to achieve this: by shrouding the enemy in mystery or by inducing paranoia so that everyone seems to be the enemy (eventually even the reflection in the mirror).

Clearing the Air

First some issues should be put to rest regarding Boko Haram (they got a wikipedia link). If you dont know about Boko Haram, you probably shouldn’t be reading this post.

One issue is that of asking the wrong questions. Many radio shows, columnists and bloggers are preoccupied with the same questions: who is Boko Haram? The country’s president set the stage with his accusations of Northern Politicians who want to see his administration’s downfall which he launched before this year’s Boko Haram comeback. The president persisted on his accusations even while facing confessions (taking credit) from MEND concerning the bombings during the Independence day celebration of 2010. The question being asked is: who is Boko Haram? Once in a while someone asks a different question: where is Boko Haram? Both questions relevant but are equally over-signified.

Is there anyone asking: why is there a Boko Haram? I mean how did they come about, could it have to do with lack of justice? Let us move away from the one word answer that is said (by the critical thinkers) to be the cause: Corruption. Corruption is a wide concept so details should be investigated. Rather than the president’s quick accusations, it is while asking the right questions that we may ask: might Boko Haram have a connection with political entities?

By asking WHO and WHERE is Boko Haram, we are looking to treat symptoms. By asking WHY and HOW it came to be, we are going to the source to remedy the issue. Treating symptoms, if successful, is just a battle victory in a lost war.

The Faceless Threat

Although faceless, Boko Haram has a voice. Thank God for that because I can’t imagine the monster that would have been created by the media (and citizens) if Boko Haram had no voice. Presently the media and the frightened have used their artistic license to paint a thousand faces of Boko Haram. To some it is any northerner, to some it is any muslim looking person, to some its any one with a beard. To the media it is any bomber, house robber, bank robber and probably any bully.

In the successful creation of the Al Qaeda monster in the US, the politicians-controlled media had most control in deciding what is Al Qaeda and what is not? They were more eager to say every attack is Alqaeda and imagination of citizens completes the fear-politics cycle. The situation in Nigeria differs in that the politicians AND criminals primarily decide what and who is Boko Haram. Armed robbers now explain themselves as being Boko Haram; as if to offload their guilts and chanel the blame away from them, they still have conscience it appears. A bank robber is reported to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” during a bank robbery counting on witnesses to make the link to the notorious Boko Haram. In the US, domestic terrorists viewed Al Qaeda as a threat because it could over-shadow them and make their message lost.

On this side of the world, criminals are part of those who paint the face of Boko Haram. Criminals, as is their attribute, are opportunistic. They carry out their attrocities and they know people will blame it on the elusive Boko Haram. Some criminals have decided to throw distracting smells in the direction of Boko Haram by saying either “Allahu Akbar” (A muslim signature) or introducing themselves as Boko Haram members out on acquisition missions to fund their organization. Criminals are taking a free ride on the tide caused by Boko Haram. Even Non-muslim criminals have exploited this opportunity as reported from recent busts.

How do we know that it is not Boko Haram? well, we listen to the representative-voices (Abu Qaqa and co). After many of these tragedies and accusations, the voices have denied responsilibilities and claimed some. They have denied lacerny charges but claimed assasinations and bomb blasts. They were also the voice that corrected a voice when they denied affiliation with (according to them) a self-professed celebrity spokesperson called  Al-Zawahri. In the cases where some criminals identified themselves as “Boko Haram”, that by itself is a clear sign of not being Boko Haram because the group call’s itself “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad” not the un-prestigious “Boko Haram”.

Passport of Boko Haram

Criminals have hijacked the face of the faceless. Criminals have put their face on the faceless while maitaining the faceless’ identity. Am I a Boko Haram PR officer? No way! look what happened to the last person who claimed that. I am not endorsing their actions neither. This is just an interesting observation on the dynamics between stake holders in Boko Haram context: the Boko-Haramists, the Criminals, Media, Politicians and other Citizens.



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4 responses to “Criminals: Passport Portrait of Boko Haram

  1. i’m seeing parallells with wait for it, ‘criminal exploitation of non state actor brand values’ in bangladesh, pakistan and the uk. more people should pursue this line of investigation

    so my dear. why and how?

    • .. all around the world the same song.
      This may require a post to answer it the best I can. For the HOW, we can construct it based on sources from the locality (passed orally) and some published sources. As for the WHY it will be best to talk to them but we can make speculations based on the HOW.
      To summarize it; the HOW is a symbiotic relationship between them, some thugs and state government in an ensuing police state. The WHY is a feeling of betrayal by an ambitious religious organization.
      If situations resembling the HOW can be curbed then, we need not fear a similar emergence in the future IA.

  2. Abu

    So what is your piont! You mfailed to answer your own question!

    Who are are Boko Haram and what do they stand for?
    Religious or non religious group?
    I remind you, any one that Kill in the name of GOD is an enemy of GOD!

    • The point of the post is not to answer those questions per se, it is to draw attention to the rarely asked questions and to highlight the criminal-use of the Boko-Haram scare.

      First, note that Boko Haram is a propaganda name. The don’t refer to themselves as that. Hence, when a criminal claims to be a “Boko-Haram”, that is a telling sign that he is not.

      They are an ideological group as radical as they are. But do they represent Islam? of course not. If you ask them they probably think they represent Islam because they believe they have the best interpretation of it. At this point, they become unique from other people (and muslims) only in their ideas, and hence I think they are an ideological group. By this definition, there is hardly any “religious group” of radicals. To use “religious group” is to admit that the small group represents an entire religion; this is only useful when you want to victimize a religion based on a few that believe they represent it. So, a member probably thinks they are a religious group but it should be understood that they are not.

      “I remind you, any one that Kill in the name of GOD is an enemy of GOD!” I can’t totally agree… but I think I get your point.

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