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Cablegate: Alleged Al-Qa'ida Threat Paralyzes Activities In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001121

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR PTER KDEM KIRF NI MILITANTS
SUBJECT: ALLEGED AL-QA'IDA THREAT PARALYZES ACTIVITIES IN
JOS

REF: 04 ABUJA 1927

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Summary
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1. Fear and anxiety gripped the citizens of crisis-ridden
Plateau State in Nigeria's Middle Belt following an alleged
plan by the Al-Qa'ida terrorist group to unleash terror
attacks on some parts of the state. Trepidation over the
possibility of another religious conflict also became rife
following a circulation of inciting leaflets in the state
capital of Jos during the week of June 6. The scare
crippled commercial and social activities. The fretfulness
also extended to some eastern parts of the state like Yelwa-
Shendam and Lantang, sites of significant communal violence
in the past. Although there was no reports of violence
related to the threat, Governor Joshua Dariye, security
agents, religious groups, and community leaders took the
issue very seriously.

---------------------
The Threat of "Jihad"
---------------------

2. Sources from Jos report that during the week in question,
an inciting leaflet was widely circulated in many strategic
areas of Jos. It claimed that an unknown Muslim
organization called the "Islamic Revolution Committee" with
alleged links to Al-Qa'ida had concluded plans to carry out
a "Jihad" against Christians in the Middle Belt. Moderate
Muslims opposed to the objectives of the group would be
attacked. The group, according to the flyer, also planned
to eliminate all the retired generals in the State. The
document continued: "The Usama bin Ladin Network in
cooperation with the Islamic Revolution Committee and Jasawa
(Note: a name given to Hausa-Fulani Muslims in Jos. End
Note) had mapped out grand strategy to carry out Islamic
Jihad in Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt areas of the
country. The attack will be directed at Christians and
Muslims who do not support the Jihad as is done in Saudi
Arabia. This Jihad is already going on in Philippines,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and of course Afghanistan."
The document added that "All terrorist groups in Nigeria
should know that Al-Qa'ida is a world Islamic front for holy
war against Jews and Christians...it is a global front to
deal with the infidels."

-------------------------------
Reactions: Old Fears Resurface
-------------------------------

3. As quickly as the pamphlet circulated, so too did
dangerous rumors, old mistrusts, suspicions, accusations,
and counter-accusations between Muslims and Christians.
Residents panicked, some traders refused to open their
shops, and parents were afraid to send their children to
schools. By Friday, 10 June, clouds of uncertainty hovered
dangerously around Jos. It appeared that the fragile peace
achieved in the state over the last few months could
collapse.

4. Governor Joshua Dariye, who had been suspended in 2004
during a six-month State of Emergency declared in response
to communal violence in the state (reftel), was
understandably worried about the potential for the situation
to escalate. He appealed through the media to Muslims and
Christians to ignore the inciting publication, urging them
to continue with their normal lives. Governor Dariye also
assured the citizens of government protection. State police
authorities quickly deployed personnel to strategic points.
Governor Dariye summoned an enlarged security meeting where
he met with religious and community leaders. Muslim and
Christian leaders at the meeting reportedly disowned and
denounced the publication, claiming "it was the handiwork of
some faceless people opposed to the peace process" in the
state. At the end, the leaders of each faith agreed to work
together to maintain peace and order.

--------------------------------
The Pamphlet's Source Identified
--------------------------------

5. In spite of the scare, there was no report of violence
either inside or outside Jos. According to government
sources, investigations by security agents traced the
inciting pamphlet to an unnamed disgruntled Birom man in
Jos, who was not happy with the creation of new chiefdoms
that gave Hausa/Fulani a "particular district in Jos
metropolis." (Note: The state government recently created
some chiefdoms and districts to placate groups like
Hausa/Fulani, the second largest group in the city after the
Biroms. End Note.) The writer allegedly wanted to exploit
the frosty relationship between the "indigenes" (Biroms &
other ethnic groups, primarily Christian) and the "settlers"
(Hausa/Fulani, mainly Muslim) to cause mayhem.

6. The government source also commented to us that
prominent Biroms like General David Jang, the ANPP
gubernatorial candidate who narrowly lost to Dariye in 2003,
exploited the creation of the new chiefdoms to incite Biroms
against the state government. Jang allegedly told his
kinsmen that creating a district for the Hausa/Fulani in Jos
is akin to surrendering the Biroms' traditional authority.
"Jang's inflammatory remarks spurred such write-ups" as the
pamphlet, the source further alleged; "You know the mere
mention of Jihad or Al-Qa'ida would raise concern in
majority Christian communities particularly where Muslims
and Christians had fought each in the past." Other Plateau
State government sources insisted the writer acted
independently: "We discovered that Muslim leaders and
Christians were not even aware of the contents of the
document."

7. A source close to the Muslim leaders in Jos told Pol-
Specialist that the publication was the "handiwork of some
people that are interested in giving Islam a negative
image." This source maintained the author of the document
was not even a Muslim, much less representing an Islamic
organization. "The publication was meant to cause confusion
and anarchy in the state but thank God, residents are now
cautious in dealing with these issues."

8. The Muslim source averred to us that the language and
wordings used in the flyer could not have come from a
Muslim, adding that the writer was not even conversant with
Islamic culture. "There is nothing like carrying out an
'Islamic Jihad' in the Qu'ran," he claimed, then
rhetorically asked, "Is there any 'Christian Jihad'?" He
said the word "jihad" is commonly associated with Islamic
societies but pointed out that the meaning of the word was
flexible, sometimes referring to the inner struggle to live
a better life and other times referring, erroneously he
said, to the armed struggle against infidels. On the
pamphlet's use of the name Al-Qa'ida, our source said the
writer gave himself away: "Although I don't know how
terrorist organizations operate, I believe if they have
plans to attack any place, they will not normally give
specific details."

-------
Comment
-------

9. The distribution of the pamphlet a few days before the
closure of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos probably contributed
to the media frenzy over the closure, but had only a
localized effect on the Nigerian polity.

CAMPBELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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