The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Brigitte Sesu Tilley-Gyado Headshot

The New African Terrorism

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Terrorism is nothing new. Despite the recent discussions of a New African Terrorism.

In fact, one of the earliest recorded acts of terrorism was used thousands of years ago by the Greeks during the Trojan War. The wooden Trojan Horse containing Greek soldiers was unwittingly dragged into the gates of Troy, and the Greeks emerged from it to destroy Troy from within its gates.

I saw echoes of this tactic on Friday in Abuja, Nigeria when Boko Haram (Western Education is Forbidden) terrorists drove cars past the gates of the United Nations building and detonated the bombs that they concealed in their vehicles, killing dozens.

The victims are real people. A close family friend of mine who had gone to the UN building to conduct research was gravely injured in the blast and remains in critical condition. And in this global era, Nigeria is no longer far away. As a major oil exporter and member of OPEC, what happens to Nigeria over the next few decades is of significance to the rest of the world's economy .

So what exactly is Boko Haram? Who are these new African terrorists? The group was formed in Northern Nigeria in 2002. The group is comprised mainly of scattered cells of Sunnis from Sharia-ruled northern Nigeria and adjoining Chad. They are opposed to Western education, and even the precepts of modern science such as Darwinism.It has an unclear power structure and consists of cells with no central nucleus of power.

Yet this year alone, the terrorist group has been responsible for numerous bombings, several shootings, poll centre bombings, and the suicide-bombing of the Police force headquarters in Abuja. They have caused substantial damage including loss of lives, millions in damaged infrastructure, loss of a feeling of national security and a loss of potential and actual international investment.

The latest acts of terrorism in the capital city have also re-ignited latent ethnic and religious tensions between a largely Christian South and an Islamic North. The group. however, comprised mainly of Northern Muslims has committed most of its acts of violence against Northern muslims, including the well documented assassination of respected Muslim cleric Liman Bana.

There have been talks of A New African Terrorism, a distinctly African style of terrorism. At first sight, this appears to be the case. There are similarities between Boko Haram and other Nigerian militancy groups, like MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) .

MEND portrays itself as political organisation that wants a greater share of Nigeria's oil revenues to go to the impoverished yet oil-rich Niger Delta region.
MEND, like Boko Haram, is not a homogeneous entity. It is an umbrella organisation for several disparate groups.

There is no uniformity in attack strategy, no common real idealistic guiding principle, no singularly identifiable leader. Its splinter cells launch impromptu haphazard attacks on foreign petroleum operations only within Nigeria, theft, property destruction, guerilla warfare, and kidnapping of both nationals and foreigners.

Like Boko Haram, MEND indiscriminately targets its own country and its own government for ransom money, not idealism. The government, lacks adequate intelligence forces and infrastructure and resorts to paying the terrorist groups in a bid to to prevent future attacks.The problem with these government pay-offs is that they are used to procure further weapons which contribute to larger acts of terrorism, and in turn larger pay-offs, and larger weapons.

The new African face of terrorism is essentially an anonymous loot, a get rich quick without working scheme. The terrorists are disparate groups of unemployed and unsatisfied young men loosely bound not by idealism, but by the desire to destroy and extort money from their communities and their government , and a non-nonchalant attitude towards destroying the nerve centres of their own communities.

In this sense the New African Terrorism is driven by the exactly same mentality that fuelled the looters in the recent London riots. Perhaps this New African terrorism is really the same global syndrome of greed, a disregard for authority and the rule of law that pervades the self-styled disenfranchised in the modern era.