Wednesday, October 26, 2005

One Achilles' Heel

From The Counterterrorism Blog:

There are alarming signs that Nigeria, West Africa's leader, one of the world's leading oil producers and is on the brink of chaos. In an unusual admission for a tight-lipped government, a senior security official publicly acknowledged the presence of up to 10,000 illegal armed men in a variety of militias in the Niger Delta, where almost all of Nigeria's 2.5 million barrels a day of light, sweet crude, are pumped. Many of these groups, according to the director general of the National Intelligence Agency, have ties to al Qaeda linked groups such as the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The full interview with Uche Okeke by Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper can be read here.

Okeke also stated a truth that is often forgotten in dealing with West Africa's ties to radical Islamist terrorist: Nigeria was listed by Osama bin Laden as on of the five "apostate states" ripe for Islamic revolution, and the only one of the five not to suffer a major al Qaeda attack. Nigerians have shown up in Afghanistan, Iraq, and with the GSPC. Both wahhbis from Saudi Arabia and Shi'ites from Iran are vying to set up radical mosques in the north. Sharia law is already the law of the land in almost one-third of the country.

Nigeria's situation is complicated and delicate. A weak elected government, trying to root out the legacy of decades of ruthless and blindingly corrupt military rule while at the same time balancing the needs of an increasingly militant Islamic majority in the north, Christians in the south, ethnic unrest and entrenched political bosses who steal far more than the state takes in. Weapons in the Niger Delta, including sophisticated and new weapons from the former Soviet bloc are, are cheap and easily available.

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