By GEORGE ONMONYA DANIEL
(This article was published on 2nd January, 2010, by Nigerian Village Square, a week after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bomb that plane on US soil on 25th December, 2009)
“charity begins at home.”
To understand the phenomenon that led a 23 years old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, to attempt to blow up an airplane in Detroit , USA , on the Christmas day of 2009, we must go back to another incident in the United States on 11 September 2001, and the subsequent events that followed. And we must start from Nigeria where I believe with no iota of doubt that Abdul Mutallab was radicalized.
Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was barely fifteen years old on September11, 2001, on that horrible and historic day when four airplanes were hijacked on US soil and crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed landed before it hit its target which expert say was probably the White House or Capitol. As the whole world watched in shock and bewilderment, some parts of the world were celebrating in jubilation of US misfortune, and that included some town and cities in Moslem dominated areas of Northern Nigeria .
The next day after 9/11, Osama bin Laden , US prime suspect’s poster littered all over the place, from villages, towns to the big cities. People put the posters in their houses, shops, and pasted the sticker of the bearded handsome looking Arab man on their cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even carts. Some Islamic teachers in Northern Nigeria predicted the end of the United States .
Roughly one month after 9/11, the US started its bombardment of Mullah Omar’s government in Afghanistan after an ultimatum to hand over Osama or face the consequences that expired. Mullah Omar, a friend indeed, refused and opted for the showdown with the US in what was described as the mother of all wars.
As United States bombs pounded Kandahar and Kabul , the heart of the Taliban regime, anti war protest began in the West and Muslims in many parts of the world came out en masse to demonstrate in solidarity with the Afghans. The first Friday after the US war campaign in Afghanistan , some group of Moslems organized a demonstration that started from the Central mosque in Kano to show solidarity with the Taliban. The demonstrators ended up in Sabon-gari where they ended up attacking non-indegenous people and burning vehicles, including a police van. The next day, the first Saturday after US attacked Afghanistan ; the city of Kano erupted in a deadly riot over the US led war. Hundreds were massacre in the most gruesome manner and many burnt beyond recognition by Muslim youths on rampage.
The teenager, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, barely fifteen years old, of course caught in the mix up must have sympathized with the Taliban as most people did in Northern Nigeria . Mahmud Jega, a columnist with the Daily Trust, agreed in his article of Monday, December 28, 2009, titled ‘Who Owns This Taliban’, that the young Farouk Mutallab must have acquired his strong anti-American feeling while growing up in Northern Nigeria . He added that, “Resentment of Western Cultural influences which undermine Islam and local traditions is common here, but usually among the elders, not 23 years old.” Comon sense should tell Mahmud Jega that any resentment that could lead to the brutal massacre of hundredds of people in the most barbaric manner is serious. Anti-American feeling is widespread among the young people in the north. It has always been, even long before Sani Abacha invited Mamman Ghadafi, the Libyan president, to Kano to preach anti-American and anti-Western hatred with thousands cheering and millions watching it live on television and listening on radio. Children from 10 to 25 years old are majority in most of the riots in the north.
As Umar farouk abdul Mutallab grew up, he witnessed the US/Iraqi war, the capture and later hanging of Saddam Hussein. It was a big issue in Northern Nigeria; it was subject of discussion at home, in mosques, taught in schools, shown on TV and talked about on radio, and in the north, the support was for the Middle East . He must have idolized the young Muslims blowing up themselves in Iraq for the holy war. Why did no one notice anything? It is because if you are religious in Nigeria people see one as a good kid. A kid who took up to preaching instead of hanging out and doing what other kids do that is perceived by most parents as being irresponsible. This one chose to be religious and what a pride to the family!
When Abdul Mutallab found himself in London to study, it was only a matter of time. London was a center for action, a place where radical Moslem youths and young men openly challenge British authority and get away with it. In the middle of the action, Abdul Mutallab needed just little motivation. The route to Yemen was definitely from London , but his early indoctrination was from Nigeria . From what family and friends discuss. From what teachers and leaders discuss. From what a society that teaches to hate Western values and Israel discuss.
Farouk Umar Abdul Mutallab eventually saw a chance to become his heroes who hijacked planes and crashed into targeted sites in the US on September 11, 2001. The young Nigerian man decided to become a martyr. It was something people he grew up with, people who taught him and people he has taught, would definitely identify with, and understand and even admire. He wanted to be the hero so many people he grew up with talk about. He almost blew up a plane in the US with about 300 passengers and crews on the 25 December 2009.
The Nigerian government must look into extreme religious activities that is rapidly growing in Northern Nigeria . The Nigerian government must take this issue of Mutallab seriously and see how far it has eaten into Nigeria instead of seeing it as a Yemeni or London problem, if not something much more will happen soon and this time it will put Nigeria on the list of terrorist States. AbdulMutallab will certainly not be the end of this one.