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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09ABUJA1377
2009-07-28 07:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

NIGERIAN ISLAMIST EXTREMISTS LAUNCH ATTACKS IN 4

Tags:   PGOV  SOCI  SENV  EAGR  PREL  NI 
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VZCZCXRO7882
OO RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1377/01 2090707
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 280707Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6670
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 1730
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 2018
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0979
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 001377 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2019
TAGS: PGOV SOCI SENV EAGR PREL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN ISLAMIST EXTREMISTS LAUNCH ATTACKS IN 4
TOWNS

REF: A. ABUJA 1053

B. ABUJA 332

Classified By: Political Counselor Walter N.S. Pflaumer for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary: According to Mission Nigeria contacts and
local press reporting, violent clashes erupted in four
Nigerian towns between Nigerian police and supporters of an
Islamic extremist group from July 26 to 27. The attacks
specifically targeted police stations, most likely as
retaliation for a mid-June incident in which Nigerian police
injured 17 of the extremist groups' members. Unconfirmed
reports indicate between 39 and 200 people were killed,
including military personnel. Support for this extremist
group remains small, but bears watching. End Summary.



2. (SBU) Very early on July 26, an Islamist group based in
northeastern Nigeria launched an attack on a police station
outside the city of Bauchi, capital of Bauchi state. The
group were allegedly followers of radical preacher Mohammed
Yusuf, and belonged to an organization called "Boko Haram"
(The Hausa name roughly translates as "western education is
sin"). According to Reverend Turbe, State Secretary for the
Christian Association of Nigeria, the group managed to drive
off the few police officers at the station, but were unable
to break into the armory before a large group of police
returned to drive them off, killing five of them. The police
then attacked the informal settlement on the outskirts of
Bauchi where the Boko Haram men lived. During a firefight,
the police reportedly killed scores of Islamists, with the
number of casualties ranging from 39 to 200.



3. (C) According to Imam Sheikh Abu Arabi, there were further
reports of clashes on July 27 between the police and
followers of Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri, capital of Borno
state, in Potiskum in Yobe State (a neighboring state to
Bauchi), and allegedly in Wudil, in Kano state. The clashes
follow a period of growing tension between the security
forces and Yusuf's followers (also sometimes referred to as
the "Nigerian Taliban") in the region; the first clash
between the two occurred on July 11 in Maiduguri, when police
interfered with a funeral procession for one of Yusuf's
followers, wounding 17 (see ref A).



4. (SBU) In addition, two of Yusuf's followers in Maiduguri
were reportedly killed on July 26, when a bomb they were
apparently assembling exploded. In a telephone interview
with a Nigerian newspaper late on July 26, Yusuf described
the two dead bombers as "martyrs," and claimed that his
followers were only fighting the police in order to defend
themselves, and to protect him (Yusuf) from arrest. Yusuf
told the paper that: "our land was an Islamic state before
the colonial masters turned it into a kafir (unbeliever)
land." He added: "The current system is contrary to true
Islamic beliefs."



5. (C) Yusuf and the "Nigerian Taliban" have been around
since 2003, when they briefly took control of several
villages in Yobe state near the Niger border, and claimed to
be following the teachings of the Islamist radicals who once
ruled Afghanistan. Yusuf's followers even named their camp
in Yobe "Afghanistan." The so-called "Boko Haram" group is
new, however, and has been campaigning against Western
education for Muslims in several northern states since late


2008. The group did not draw much support, except from
disaffected young men, many of them reportedly university
drop-outs. In April, the Council of Ulamas, a prominent
Islamic clerical body, denounced Boko Haram, even staging a
public televised debate to charge that the group's teachings
were un-Islamic.



6. (C) Comment: Thanks to reporting in other channels, we
were aware that clashes between Mohammed Yusuf and the
security forces were becoming increasingly likely. For now,
at least, the focus of his attacks seems to be on the
Nigerian establishment and even other Nigerian Muslims,
rather than on the West or U.S. interests. In any case,
Yusuf's teachings do not appear to resonate with most

ABUJA 00001377 002 OF 002


Nigerian Muslims, and indeed his following seems to be
limited to a relatively small number of disaffected young
men. That said, there are more of such young men than there
used to be, and their numbers look likely to grow in the
current difficult economic times. End comment.
SANDERS