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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01ABUJA2792 2001-11-01 11:35:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

RADICALIZATION OF ISLAM IN NIGERIA

Tags:   PINS PTER KISL PHUM KIRF KPAO OIIP 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002792 

SIPDIS


AF/W AND AF/RA
AF/PD FOR SCOTT
IIP/G/AF
AF/W FOR PARKS, EPSTEIN


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2006
TAGS: PINS PTER KISL PHUM KIRF KPAO OIIP
SUBJECT: RADICALIZATION OF ISLAM IN NIGERIA


REF: (A) SECSTATE 177569


Classified by Charge Timothy Andrews, for reasons 1.5 (b) and
(d).
This cable is being re-transmitted to expand distribution.




1. (SBU) Summary: The Embassy interprets a "radical
formulation of Islam" (reftel) as one which deems violence
against Americans as licit for reasons of faith. Few in
Nigeria have adopted this extreme view; however, there is
widespread concern and significant anger among Muslims in
Nigeria against the U.S. action in Afghanistan. Sympathy for
UBL is visible, particularly among the young, male, Northern
urban underclass. On the whole, Nigerian Muslims are not
anti-American, or anti-Western, yet may suspect us of being
anti-Islamic and view our military action as confirmation.
If military operations are prolonged or marred by growing
civilian casualties, this belief will harden. If this
dynamic takes root, many Muslims, particularly young
marginalized males and the more outspoken clerics, will
become susceptible to a radicalized view of Islam that not
only promotes violence, but also explicitly rejects Western
ideals of a secular polity and market-oriented economy.
End Summary.


--------------------------


View From the Ground


--------------------------




2. (SBU) Most Nigerian Muslims condemn the 9/11 attacks but
many also oppose coalition action in Afghanistan as an attack
against fellow Muslims. The majority hold the U.S.
responsible for having created the atmosphere that produces
terrorists through policies they perceive as anti-Islamic in
Iraq and the Middle East peace process. Many are skeptical
about any evidentiary link between the September 11 attacks
and Usama Bin Laden. Our failure to provide a public account
of our evidence seems to them to confirm their suspicions.
More moderate Islamic leaders, in addition to publicly
condemning the attacks, and tacitly acknowledging the
necessity of some type of military response, have voiced
concerns about how these events might affect Islam as a
whole. In a nutshell, our military action in Afghanistan is
seen by many as the latest example of superpower
heavy-handedness in the Islamic world.


--------------------------


The Media


--------------------------




3. (SBU) There is no newspaper or other media outlet in
Nigeria that has a "radical Islamic editorial policy,"
meaning that it encourages Muslims to attack Americans.
However in mostly Muslim northern Nigeria, numerous
editorials criticized U.S. policy. There have also been
columns supporting Bin Laden, which increased dramatically
after air strikes commenced. Two newspapers--the Northern
states' government owned New Nigerian in Kaduna and The
Daily/Weekly Trust in Abuja--have prominently featured
critical columns. The critical sentiment shades their news
reports. The Daily/Weekly Trust is new, so it does not have
an established track record against which to measure its
anti-American print. The New Nigerian, however, opposed
Desert Storm, so its spin on September 11 is consistent with
its previous work. Though new, Trust is far more widely read
than the New Nigerian, The Federal Government-owned Federal
Radio Corporation Nigeria (FRCN) in Kaduna also airs highly
critical opinions of U.S. policy.


--------------------------


Islamic Preaching/Teaching


--------------------------




4. (SBU) Many Northern states have adopted versions of
expanded Shari'a law in the past two years. While this
movement was based on local considerations, it was also, in
part, a rejection of a dysfunctional secular legal system.
Nevertheless, the Shari'a law movement has no direct link to
growing distress at our bombing of Afghanistan. Strong
rhetoric critical of U.S. military action has been used by a
small but steadily increasing number of clerics, and some of
these have also advocated for expanded Shari'a. Among the
strongest statements was one from the Zamfara State
Commissioner of Religious Affairs calling for Muslims to pray
for the "annihalation" of the U.S. if it invades Afghanistan.
Yet, by and large, most clerics reflect as well as help
shape mainstream Muslim views. They decry the terrorist
attacks, but in the same breath oppose our reaction.




6. (SBU) If radicalism emerges in Nigeria, a focal point
would be Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, a long-time center
of Islamic activism. Zaria based Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky,
leader of Nigeria's Muslim Brothers, relishes being known as
a militant and would be a likely candidate to push Nigerian
Muslims toward radicalism. However, both Zakzaky and his
movement lost support because of his opposition to the
adoption of "partial" Shari'a law under a secular government.
The Ullama, particularly in Kano, could also emerge as a
catalyst for radical Islam.


--------------------------


Political Parties


--------------------------




9. (SBU) There is no political party that advocates Islamic
radicalism in Nigeria.


--------------------------


NGO's


--------------------------




10. (C) Prominent Islamic NGO's include the Red Crescent,
International Islamic Relief Organization, International
Federation of Islamic Students Organization and the
Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria. All have ties to
Saudi Arabia but none appear tied to Islamic radicalism.
Transnational organizations, such as the Islamic Call
Society, also have offices in Nigeria. Cataloguing all
Islamic NGOs operating in Nigeria and determining their
political orientation exceeds our limited resources.


--------------------------


Financial Institutions


--------------------------




11. (SBU) The former BCCI operated in Nigeria, and its
Nigerian assets are now controlled by the Lagos-based AIB
Bank. Post has no information linking AIB, or any other
bank, to radical Islamic activism.


--------------------------


Foreign Study


--------------------------




12. (SBU) Most Nigerian Muslims who study abroad go to the
U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Iran, in
descending order of popularity. Those who wish to study in
an Islamic country and who are seeking technical or medical
degrees lean toward Saudi Arabia, while those pursuing
Islamic studies gravitate to Egypt. Many professionals are
reluctant to return here for economic reasons, but religious
scholars tend to return after their course of study. After
completion of their studies, they are likely to preach or
take up positions as Ullama or teachers. We expect a more
militant bent from many of those who studied in Libya, Sudan
or Iran, but there is no evidence of a violent radicalism
being brought back to Nigeria.


--------------------------


Foreign Itinerants


--------------------------




13. (C) Post does not have knowledge of individual foreign
itinerants promoting a radical, i.e. violently anti-American,
formulation of Islam in the North. There are a substantial
number of itinerant Islamic scholars from the Sudan who
reside in or visit Nigeria regularly. Algerian and Iranian
religious scholars resident in Katsina and Kano have also
been reported. Malam Yakubu Musa, a Muslim cleric residing
in Katsina, was recently arrested and then acquitted of
harboring Algerian radicals alleged to be affiliated with the
FSPC. While we do not have specific knowledge, we would
expect many of these Ullama to be among the most vocal and
militant "street clerics" and likely candidates for fomenting
radicalism.




14. (C) There have been no rumors of planned attacks by
Muslims against USG installations or Amcits. That said, if a
European or American were to wander into an anti-U.S.
demonstration he or she could well be targeted. Muslim FSNs
have expressed concern and mistrust for Ibrahim Zakzaky.
They warn that while he stops short of preaching that
violence against Americans is justified by Islam, some of his
followers may be more radical.




15. (C) Comment: Nigeria is struggling with its own ethnic
and religious conflicts, independent of recent world events.
However, world events do exacerbate internal ethnic and
religious tensions. On the whole, Nigerian Muslims are not
anti-American, or anti-Western, but are unhappy over US
military action in Afghanistan. The fact that our forces do
not target civilians means nothing to Nigerian Muslims as
long as our munitions are killing civilians. Some Nigerian
Muslims view bombardment that results in collateral (Muslim)
civilian deaths as not substantially different from terrorist
attacks that deliberately target (American) civilians. The
longer our military action is prosecuted in Afghanistan, and
if significant civilian casualties continue to mount, this
anger will only increase. In time, it could give vent to a
more radical expression of Islam in some parts of the
country. End Comment.
Andrews