Cablegate: Nigeria: 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2254/01 3451407
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111407Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7749
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002254
STATE FOR S/CT: (RShore)
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: 2009 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM
REF: STATE 109980
1. (U) In 2009, the Government of Nigeria continued efforts to
improve coordination, communication and cooperation between the
executive and legislative branches on counterterrorism (CT) matters.
However, progress on CT legislation in the National Assembly slowed
due to reconciliation and consolidation issues between two rival
terrorism bills and general legislative lethargy. The National
Focal Point on Terrorism, an interagency task force formed in
February 2007 comprised of the State Security Service (SSS), the
Nigerian Customs Service, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
and Immigration, and other relevant authorities, has been on an
extended hiatus since the transfer of its SSS and MFA coordinators.
2. (U) On March 9, the Islamic organization Jama'at Izalatul
Bidi'Wa Iqamatus Sunnah, otherwise known as Izala, publicly warned
of plans by unidentified groups to mount attacks in Plateau, Kaduna,
Taraba, Adamawa, Gombe, and Bauchi states. In a statement, the
group encouraged the government to take concrete steps to address
the threat and prevent the "implementation of the evil plans in
states earmarked for the act."
3. (U) Subsequently, on July 26 around 70 Islamic militants from a
group calling itself "Boko Haram", Hausa for "education is sin," and
which some refer to as the "Nigerian Taliban," attacked an Izala
mosque and police station in the Dutsen Tanshi section of Bauchi
town with firearms and hand grenades. (Note: the sinful or
forbidden "education" is commonly understood to mean "western"
education.) The attacks resulted in at least 55 deaths and up to
200 arrests. The following day, Boko Haram carried out
near-simultaneous attacks against police headquarters in Maiduguri,
Borno State, and police stations in Potsikum, Yobe State, and Wudil,
Kano State, provoking police and military sweeps in several states
thought to harbor Boko Haram members and sympathizers. Running
clashes between security forces and militants reportedly resulted in
around 700 deaths, including innocent bystanders. The situation is
reminiscent of the largely rural, anti-establishment, and radical
movement known as Maitatsine which caused riots in Kano State from
December 18-29, 1980, in which 4,177 people reportedly died.
4. (U) The Nigerian military captured Maiduguri-based Boko Haram
spiritual leader Mohammed Yusuf alive after a siege of his compound,
and turned him over to Maiduguri police, whose colleagues the group
had killed. A local policeman summarily executed Yusuf in front of
the station in full view of onlookers, after parading him before
television cameras. We have not confirmed reports that some of the
militants came from neighboring Chad and Niger. More likely is that
they were from wide-ranging ethnic groups common to areas in Chad,
Niger and Nigeria who settled in Nigeria, often generations back.
In response, on August 17 Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
issued a "Statement of Consolation, Advice, and Condolences to our
Brothers and family in Nigeria."
5. (U) Twenty-three year-old militant Abdul Rasheed, a native of
Adamawa State, who was arrested in its capital Yola claimed to have
received explosives training outside Nigeria paid for by Yusuf. In
fact, it was an explosion in a private residence in Maiduguri where
bombmakers were said to be preparing explosives for attacks which
alerted authorities to the threat and presumably expedited the
Qalerted authorities to the threat and presumably expedited the
attack in Bauchi on July 26.
6. (U) Legislators merged a "private member" Senate bill based on
the Commonwealth Secretariat's Model Legislative Provisions on
Measures to Combat Terrorism, which passed its second reading on
September 17, 2008, with an executive bill sponsored by the
presidency. The hybrid legislation, which resembles more the later
executive bill, currently awaits a third and final reading in the
Senate, before the President may sign it into law. In an October
12, 2009 letter, Nigerian President Yar'Adua asked the National
Assembly to pass the legislation to combat terrorism and kidnapping.
The bill stipulates a maximum jail term of only five years for
those convicted of terrorism.
7. (U) The Nigerian government continued to operate USG-funded body
scanners in all four international airports to detect explosives and
drugs on passengers, with numerous successful interdictions of
contraband, mainly drugs. Despite repeated USG requests since
2007, the Nigerian government has yet to sign a memorandum of
understanding sanctioning the use of U.S. (and Nigerian) Federal Air
Marshals on direct flights between Nigeria and the U.S. A
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) MANPADS assessment team
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visited Nigeria from July 13-17 in conjunction with Delta Airlines'
commencement of service from Abuja to New York. Nigeria's
application for Category One status from the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration is expected to be approved sometime in mid-2010.
Nevertheless, Nigerian carrier Arik Air started flying to the U.S.
on December 1 using "wet-leased" aircraft from Ghana, a Category One
8. (U) The Nigerian government welcomes and actively participates in
USG-sponsored training and capacity building programs, particularly
in the areas of CT and border security. Progress continues on
establishment of an additional Regional Maritime Awareness
Capability (RMAC) radar station on the eastern coast to complement
one already operational in Lagos. The U.S. military is assisting
the GON with standing up a specialized CT unit within the Nigerian
military. Mission Nigeria's Office of Security Cooperation (OSC)
conducted three Trans-Sahara Security Symposia in support of the
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), addressing human
development issues that may contribute to the spread of extremism
and instability. In addition, OSC sponsored the attendance of nine
participants from various agencies at the Trans-Sahara Security
Symposium at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Center in Accra, Ghana from
9. (U) During 2009, Diplomatic Security sponsored Antiterrorism
Assistance (ATA) courses on: Terrorism Crime Scene Investigation,
Airport Security Management, VIP Protection, VIP Protection
Management, Fraudulent Documents, and Maritime Interdiction of
Terrorism for 91 Nigerian law enforcement and security officials and
practitioners. The U.S. Mission to Nigeria continuously looks for
ways to provide additional CT training and assistance.
10. (U) Nigeria is not considered to be a safe haven for terrorists,
given the government's posture and approach to extremists, nor a
major source of terrorist funding. However, socioeconomic
disparities, lack of transparency, and poverty, particularly in the
predominantly Muslim north, breed popular discontent among a
population which Al-Qaeda has expressed interest in exploiting.
11. (U) Post's points of contact are Patrick Ryan (RyanPL@state.gov)
+234 703 064-9635, +234 9 461-4141 and Mike Wautlet
(WautletMJ@state.gov) +234 703 665-1289, +234 9 461-4122.
12. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.