Thursday, August 18, 2011

US Military commander disclose Boko Haram's sponsors

THE fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, whose continued violence has defied the nation’s security apparatus, may be operating with the support of
al-Qaeda’s African branch and the al-Shabab terror group of Somalia.
The top United States (U.S.) Military Commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham, told the Associated Press (AP) yesterday after a visit to Nigeria that there were “multiple sources” that showed that Boko Haram wanted to co-ordinate its efforts with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Ham said there were also signs that the two terror groups wanted to form a “loose partnership” with al-Shabab.

Ham of the U.S. Africa Command said such a co-ordination “would be the most dangerous thing to happen not only to the Africans, but to us as well.”

A suspected al-Shabab bombmaker now facing terrorism charges in New York was at one point detained by security agents in Nigeria. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, also known as AQIM, has issued statements in support of Boko Haram, and both use similar logos in communiques.

A recent video indicates that two men, a Briton and an Italian, who were kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria, are being held by AQIM.

Ham met this week with Nigerian military and security officials during his first visit to the country as the head of the U.S. Africa Command, known as Africom and which has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Ham said the U.S. would be willing to share intelligence and offer training to Nigerian security forces.

Also, Catholic Bishops under Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province have called on the Federal Government to be decisive in dealing with the Boko Haram sect just as they advised against granting amnesty to the religious sect members.

The clergymen also called for more dialogue on Islamic banking and criticised Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for not allowing a thorough dialogue before approving the bank.

The bishops, who rose from their meeting yesterday in Ede, Osun State, challenged the government to arrest and bring to book the perpetrators of the violence that have claimed hundreds of lives and property of Nigerians across the country.

While sympathising with families that have lost their loved ones to the killings and bombings of innocent lives in parts of the country by the Boko Haram sect members, the bishops called on the government to strengthen the rule of law and security apparatus in the country and bring the members of Boko Haram to book rather than negotiating with them as being canvassed by some individuals.

The statement added: “The Federal Government’s approach to this issue has been decisive in some ways but inadequate in others. We have seen the government seeming to speak from both sides of the mouth on whether or not to negotiate with the Boko Haram.

“The issue of amnesty has also been raised by some eminent Nigerians, the so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach at the expense of Nigerians’ lives, peace and tranquility is unacceptable.”      .

The bishops in the statement signed by Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job and Most Rev. Felix Ajakaiye, blamed Sanusi for the controversy the issue of Islamic banking is generating.       .

The statement added: “In a democracy, Nigerians should have been allowed to discuss such an important and sensitive issue before Malam Sanusi would make a pronouncement on it which sounded much like law.

“Reactions to the proposed introduction of Islamic banking have shown how divisive such an issue, important and useful though it may be, can be when it is not carefully presented.”

The Catholic clerics also asked the government to tackle the growing unemployment rate in the country, saying security of lives and property could not be assured where unemployment was not firmly dealt with.

While commending the last general elections and urging the government to build on them, the bishops appealed to the various election petition tribunals to treat all petitions before them speedily.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has pledged to train citizens on emergency response to terror attacks.

Deputy Head, Israeli High Commission, George Deek, made the pledge yesterday in Abuja at a one-day partnership forum and media briefing organised by Global Medical Horizon and Plusfactor International on enhancing emergency response and ambulance services in Nigeria, using the Israeli model.

He listed terrorists’ activities as kidnapping, fire, politically- motivated violence, ethnic clashes and bomb blasts. “Terrorism is one of Nigeria’s biggest and most immediate challenges. It is not a secret that Israeli expertise can significantly assist Nigeria in countering terrorism. On behalf of my country, I present our readiness to expand our partnership in Nigeria,” he said.

In a paper titled: “The Israeli model of emergency response as a tool of counter-terrorism”, Deek listed Israeli expertise in emergency preparedness, given frequent encounter with terrorism-related emergencies, as public education, training, drills, awareness and willingness to take part in activities.

Others, according to him, are the authority (the issue of who is in charge), police, emergency medical services, healthcare workforce and co-operation between all arms of government.

He said part of the Israeli success in achieving a high level of public readiness was due to its long-term approach that invests heavily in creating a resilient public, especially in the effective engagement and mobilisation of the public in support of counter-terrorism policies.
Nigeria Newspapers.

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