When bombers attacked the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing 3 and injuring 264 people, I thought it was not likely to be typical Islamist fundamentalists at work. The location of the incident in Boston, Massachusetts, an academic city, and the nature of the two “pressure cooker” bombs and other improvised explosive devices suggested a “mad scientist” or university type disgruntled over other aspects of American society rather than the usual rantings of Al Qaeda and its adherents. As it turned out, I was right in some aspects, but otherwise wrong – Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were Muslim Chechen immigrants from Dagestan motivated by extremist Islamic ideology, even though one of them was indeed a “university type” and engineering student.
In the case of the animalistic hacking of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, England, once I saw footage of the “senior” terrorist addressing a “press conference”, axe and meat cleaver in bloodied hands, I feared that this was likely to be a Nigerian-British person! I have heard many UK-based Nigerians speak in similar accent – friends, children of friends, family and former classmates and other Nigerians. I silently wished my fear would turn out misplaced and the guy would be linked to other places – Tanzania, Gambia, Jamaica, Kenya, Somalia or the Caribbean, anywhere other than Nigeria – but that depraved butcher of Woolwich who cut down a fellow human being with an axe like he was a cow and proudly announced his motivation in defence of Muslim lands was of Nigerian, indeed Yoruba and Christian progeny, by name, Michael Adebolajo!
Apparently, he had converted to Islam; had become “Mujahhid”; and had become committed to the cause of violent Jihad in furtherance of his new beliefs. His more reserved and probably hesitant accomplice also turned out to be Michael Adebowale! For me it was a real shame and tragedy! These could easily have been children from families known to me! They could well have been younger brothers to any of my friends or colleagues. God forbid, but couldn’t they have in fact been our own children? I do not subscribe to the hypocritical denial that these deranged individuals have nothing to do with Nigeria. Many Nigerians proudly claim Phillip Idowu, Aby Oyepitan, Christine Ohurogu, MP Chuka Umunna, Gabriel Agbonlahor, etc. We have claimed Victor Moses for our national team, as well as Sola Ameobi and Victor Anichebe. Many of our children hold British, American, Irish or Canadian passports. Are we also rejecting those ones?
It is true that the Yoruba say that the successful child belongs to the father, while the one who brings dishonour to the family name is a bastard, but we should at least be consistent in our positions! It is sufficient that we express our sympathy to the good British people and their government, demonstrate our regrets at the actions of these losers and dissociate ourselves from their motivations. That does not make us liable for their actions and we are perfectly entitled to point at the more worthy contributions of the vast majority of Nigerians and British-Nigerians in the United Kingdom as the more appropriate characterisation of our people. Having said that, it is also true that the evil and misguided “Michaels” were radicalised in Britain, and not Nigeria, and the British have a duty to their society and the rest of the world to curb the radicalisation “institutes” and “teachers” that they have allowed to thrive in the UK in the name of freedom of religion! Ironically, the inclination of the UK and particularly the US towards Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorists and their sponsors has been one of appeasement!
Indeed, the West faces two deeper challenges, which if not redressed may undermine their civilisation. The first is political correctness and extreme liberal agendas which prevent them from taking common sense positions! I watched on CNN as the Imam suspected to have radicalised Michael Adebolajo refused to condemn his actions. He is in fact reported to have commended his courage; many extremist Imams openly preach hate and terror in many mosques across the UK and other parts of Europe, carefully staying on the border lines of legality, and the British government is helpless to stop them; both the Boston bombers and the Woolwich butchers were known to American and British intelligence, based on information from other nations, Russia and Kenya, yet political correctness meant they did nothing substantial until the terrorists took Western lives; the liberal agenda of multi-culturalism has been interpreted to mean that the West cannot even insist on adherence to its civilised values in accepting immigrants into its cities, turning many of its neighbourhoods into replications of the Third World slums that the immigrants were running away from!
The other challenge is that the West has abandoned faith and therefore has no alternative to offer its children when extremist Islamists present their radical Islamic ideology! Western children who have grown up with no relationship with God; brought up on a menu of gay rights, abortion, entertainment, drugs and a complete renunciation of the spiritual, will continue to be intrigued by any thought system which presents itself as higher than self and the material! Human beings know somewhere deep inside them that there is God! If the West doesn’t teach its children about the God who prospered their society and gave them enduring transformational values, others will tell them about a different God! They may not like the consequences!