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DOMESTICATION OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM IN NIGERIA: STUDY OF BOKO HARAM AND NIGER DELTA INSURGENCIES, 2000-2012
1.1 Background to the Study
Violence and the threat of it have been noted as constant associate of human existence. It dates back to the biblical account about the killing of Abel by Cain. This is because human existence and activities on earth are notably social events that are prone to agreement and disagreement. It is also an established fact that as peace is concomitant with agreement, disagreement engenders anarchy and conflict. That is why it is difficult to eliminate conflict and crisis in human affairs and interaction. This also accounts for why it was not possible to sustain international peace after the cold war. At the end of the cold war, hopes were high that the international polity would once again witness peace and security following the disintegration of Soviet Union and the emergence of a Uni-polar International System.
Unfortunately, this hope was dashed in what Viotti and Kauppi (2009:256) refers to as “preeminent post-cold war threat”, when on 11 September, 2001 U.S was attacked by al Qaeda in a very devastating form, hitting major targets, the World Trade Centre (WTC) Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
The above accounts for why the U.S President George Bush vowed to fight terrorism head on and quickly formed a coalition of other nations, especially North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members and some super powers, in order to ensure a successful and total routing of this new enemy. Nations that responded immediately to that call were Great Britain, France and Spain, as well as Germany, Russia and China (Konecky and Konecky, 2008:631).He called on all peace loving nations to join him and ensure that terrorists, their sponsors and custodians are successfully brought to book. He then declared that, “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign unlike any other ever witnessed” (Woodward 2002:108). This is because, the planning, execution and, in fact, the sequence of the 9/11 events as well as the casualty rate was such that can make every reasonable mind to see terrorism as something worse than war. That attack remains the height and most devastating in the history of international terrorism, which shocked the entire world. It shook the foundation of the international community not just because of the weapon used but also the perfect planning and execution as well as the casualty rate. Konecky and Konecky (2008:630) noted that: “In New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville Pennsylvania over 3,000 people lost their life. The attacks involved the hijacking of four passenger jets that had made morning departures from Boston’s Logan Airport, Washington’s Dulles Airport and Newark Airport in New Jersey”.
At 8:45am, American Airline flight 11 with 88 passengers and crew members crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in New York, while at 9:02am, United Airline flight 175 with 59 passengers and crew members crashed into the second tower of the WTC. Within less than two hours of these crashes, the twin towers imploded and in the process destroyed five other buildings of the WTC as well as four subway stations, resulting in over 2,650 deaths including about 350 firefighters who were deployed to assist the estimated 25,000 persons in the twin towers. At about 9:43am, the third jet, American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon killing all the 59 people on board and 125 persons on the ground. The fourth airplane, United Airlines flight 93 could not hit the target which was to be the white house in Camp David presidential Estate. The failure to hit this target was as a result of the heroic actions of the passengers who had already been informed through phone about the New York episode and who as a result, mounted strong resistance to the hijackers plan of steering the plane towards the white house but which eventually crash landed in a field near shanksville Pennsylvania killing all the 40 passengers and crew.
At the end of the horrendous and unfortunate episode, it was discovered that al-Qaeda, an Islamic fundamentalist group led by Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the heinous and atrocious act. It was seen by analyst as not just a repeat but a continuation of the previous attack on the same WTC on 26 February 1993 and which led to the death of six persons. It is believed that it was the low level of impact recorded in the first attack via bombing that led to the extensive planning of the 9/11. The 26 February 1993 attack was carried out by Ramzi Yousef, who, according to Martin (2006:19), “detonated a bomb in a parking garage beneath tower one of the World Trade Centre in New York City”. He had initially planned with his master Bin Ladin to make the bomb a chemical one in order to record high death toll. Some experts claimed that he had incorporated toxic sodium cyanide into the bomb, intending to create a toxic chemical cloud. This position is however unsubstantiated, though some analysts contend that he did attempt to procure chemical agents before the attack but was unable to do so (Parachini, 2000:186-187).
The 9/11 attack made not just U.S but the entire international comunity to realize that terrorism is more dangerous than war, and its potency and capability as a global human eliminator more devastating than world war, judging from the nature of weapons which the advancement in technology has placed in the hands of terrorists. And as encapsulated by Nye and Welch (2011:2): “The September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 (9/11) has illustrated how technology is putting into the hands of nonstate actors destructive powers that once were reserved solely for governments”. Many experts immediately came to the conclusion that with the mastery and precision of the attack, the use of weapon of mass destruction cannot be ruled out in the subsequent attacks, and as such were of the view that terrorism should be checkmated before it is too late. Falk (2003:52) while analyzing the mastery exhibited by the terrorists and damages done during the 9/11 attack, observed that, “never in the history of terrorism had an operation of such stunning proportion been pulled off”. It was seen by many analysts as a turning point in the history of political violence, and roundly referred to it as the emergence of a New International terrorist environment. It was argued in Martin (2006:3) that within this new environment, terrorists were now quite capable of using - and very willing to use - weapons of mass destruction to inflict unprecedented causalities and destruction on enemy targets. These attacks seemed to confirm warnings from experts during the 1990s that a New Terrorism, using ‘asymmetrical’ methods, would characterize the terrorist environment in the new millennium.
With this mind set, world leaders expressed great support and solidarity with America. There was an avalanche of solidarity messages from international community, world leaders and allies to U.S. Many countries cancelled their various national engagements to commiserate with the government and people of America. Russia for instance, had to suspend its strategic bombers maneuvers over the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Antarctic Oceans, which was initially scheduled for that week to avoid possible misinterpretation and or being mistaken for an enemy. It rather directed its foreign intelligence service in a very rare spirit of comradeship to collaborate with its counterparts in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East to forestall any further attacks. The European Union (E.U), also in response, though through its police arm (EUROPOL), immediately established a 24 hour crisis centre to cushion and counter the threat of terrorism(Combs and Slann, 2007)