Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the Failed Christmay-day Terrorist

Until yesterday, Nigerians like me used to argue that despite my fellow compatriots' involvement in Advance Fee Fraud (aka 419) and Medicare Insurance Fraud, there was no reason to associate Nigeria with Al Qaeda-style terrorism. With the frightening news yesterday of a botched attempt by a Nigerian citizen to detonate an explosive device on a Detroit-bound Delta flight, my country and its citizens have now joined that inglorious list of terrorists' homelands.

While details of this incident are still fuzzy, information from Nigerian media, reveals a very disturbing reality. According to This Day, the father of the alleged failed bomber--a wealthy banker and former minister--had in fact contacted the "American authorities about his son's radical Islamism, and that "a source close to him said he was surprised that after his reports to the US authorities, the young man was allowed to travel to the United States."

While the authorities in Nigeria and the US try to unravel this Christmas-day bombing attempt, it sure bothers me that a young man whose father claims to have warned the American government about the activities of his son-- a fellow who had, according to news reports, moved to Egypt, and later Dubai from where he denounced his family (a sure sign of the extent of his radicalization)--was given a visa to travel to the US, when my 65-year old mother is denied visa to visit her grandchildren in the US, many respected Nigerian colleagues routinely refused entry to attend conferences. The pertinent question is why a character like Mr. Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab to enter the US, given what the authorities must have known about him; or is it because of the fact that he, unlike my mother and my fellow Nigerian scholars, are part of the Nigerian wealthy, political class?

I wonder if it now means that I have to go through routine secondary screening at the airport (or occasional ejection from the airport) like colleagues of mine who have the singular misfortune of holding passports issued by countries associated with terrorism. In any case I thank God that failed in his terrible mission.

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