Monday, February 27, 2012

In Nigeria, a Deadly Group’s Rage Has Local Roots

New York Times
26 February 2012

KANO, Nigeria — In an imam’s quiet office, two young men in long hooded robes, their faces hidden by checked scarves, calmly described their deadly war against the Nigerian state.

A member of Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has staged deadly attacks in Kano, in northern Nigeria. “Millions of people in Kano State are supporting us,” he said.

The group’s lethality is undeniable. Boko Haram unleashed a hail of bullets and homemade bombs here last month to deadly effect: as many as 300 were killed in a few hours in the group’s deadliest and most organized assault yet after two years of attacks across northern Nigeria. It was an unprecedented wave of coordinated suicide bombing, sustained gunfire and explosions, much of it directed against the police.

But while Western and local officials cite the militants’ growing links to terrorist organizations in the region — presenting the ties as a reason behind the group’s increasingly deadly tactics and a cause for global concern — Boko Haram is not the imported, “foreign” menace Nigerian authorities depict it to be.

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