by Vanessa Beeley (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 11, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1437)
The Boko Haram terrorists have been rampaging throughout Nigeria since at least 2009. Instead of going after these terrorists, the army has targeted the Islamic movement that itself is the victim of Boko Haram terrorists.
According to the Nigerian regime’s forces, a traffic infringement justifies the massacre of over 1,000 Muslims (or 6,000 according to another account) who were performing the religious ceremony of ushering in the new month of Rabi‘ al-Awwal in which the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) mawlud (birthday) falls.
In a statement on December 13, the army said, “The Nigerian Constitution guarantees the rights of any group of persons and Sheikh El-Zakzaky’s followers to hold a peaceful march or procession unhindered, but it also guarantees other people’s rights of way on public highways.”
Allegations of the attempted assassination of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai or even of the alleged attacks by the Islamic Movement on the military convoy are rendered questionable by the sheer lack of reported casualties on the military side and the shockingly disproportionate loss of life and bloodshed among the movement’s supporters and leaders.
If indeed, this were a simple fracas over “right of way on a public highway” which resulted in the shooting of unarmed Muslims, why then did the same Nigerian armed forces attack the Hussainiyah, the group’s headquarters later the same evening, hours after the initial clashes? Why did they deliberately target high-ranking members of the Islamic Movement and execute Hamad Zakaky, son of the movement’s leader, Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky? Why did they attack and wound the Shaykh’s wife, Zeenat? Why did they shoot the Shaykh himself, four times in his hands, publicly humiliate, and arrest him? Why, if this was not a pre-mediated act of aggression and suppression, had the Army ensured the presence of camera teams at both attacks and why were women and children not spared the murderous hail of bullets?
These are all questions that the mainstream media should be asking yet this massacre has been swept under the carpet of indifference by Western media.
Shaykh Zakzaky is a man of peace, unity, and vision. These qualities alone represent a threat to the hegemony and neocolonialist strategy of the Axis of Empire in Africa. His peaceful and nonviolent approach would justify the repeated attempts to suppress and inhibit the growth of his Shi‘i Muslim movement and his popular, unifying influence that transcended the borders of Nigeria, which was taking root in many countries on the continent.
To more fully understand this violent targeting of the Shaykh and the Islamic Movement, we must take into consideration both the historical and more recent influences upon Nigeria.
China has been an evolving partner in Nigeria, investing heavily in the development of infrastructure and fixed assets, refineries and factories. In a role diametrically opposed to the traditional plundering partnerships of the US and other neocolonialists with sovereign nations, China contrarily seems to have a genuine vested interest in the stability of Nigeria to support a mutually beneficial economic and trade relationship reliant upon the growth and profitability of Nigeria itself.
This concept adopted by China of a symbiotic expansion and growth is anathema to US neocolonialism in the region in general and in Nigeria in particular. The presence of China in a country so abundant in oil, uranium, diamonds, mineral, and timber resources is an acute thorn in the side of the US carpetbaggers who have perceived the continent’s largest economy and oil producer to be their bread basket and theirs alone.
It is logical, rational, and reasonable to speculate that Boko Haram is effectively another terrorist trade name, brought into existence, to destabilize a region that is daring to jailbreak from US colonialism and to explore alternative bilateral trade pathways that deviate from the US regional “road maps.”
Boko Haram’s presence has a threefold purpose:
1. it successfully elevates the Niger-ian army to defender of the “meek” against the “terror” threat and provides cover for any violent opposition suppression;
2. it gives the US justification for “boots on the ground,” military support for anti-Boko Haram (aka pro-US) factions, and the ubiquitous drone strikes against the alleged “terror” strongholds, a devastating strategy already observed in Afghanistan, Pakis-tan and Yemen to name a few; and
3. it ensures the fragmentation, sectarian division, and fracturing of unity and a state of perpetual chaos that will seismically derail China’s investment in Nigeria’s physical and economic infrastructure essential to their US exclusive growth.
Shaykh Zakzaky had alluded to this very terror “patent” in his reaction to the suicide bomb attack on the Shi‘i Arba‘een procession in Kano on November 27, 2015. Over 24 died and many were injured in further violent targeting of the minority Shi‘i community in Nigeria. “We know the names of the contractors and those contracted to commit the massacre, their identity is not hidden from us. Therefore we cannot be cowed by an imaginary Boko Haram tale, let them tell it to the fools and ignorant. They should know that they are dealing with those with foresight, wisdom and intelligence, and above all with the real religion.”
This statement struck at the very heart of the US/NATO, Israeli, and GCC strategy in Nigeria and threatened to undermine their architecture of “terror” foundations. The Shaykh made it clear that Boko Haram were none other than gangs of mercenaries, hired contract killers, being unleashed to foment sectarian violence and an atmosphere of fear and division where only US appointed, backed and controlled “saviors” would emerge victorious.
When we consider the sheer number of gangs and rival gangs, extremist factions and sects emerging inorganically and globally, we can begin to connect the dots. All have as their purpose, the sowing and reaping of rapacious violence, the construct of division, the provocation of turmoil, the incitement of hatred and fear. All are posing as the enemies of imperialism whilst serving imperialist agendas. All fulfill roles of humanity-averse abomination and simultaneous US alliance proxy forces percolating from one target region to the next.
Grey Wolves, FSA, ISIS, DA‘ISH, al-Qaeda, Khorasan, AQAP, Jabhat al-Nusra and Boko Haram (to name a few), are they nothing more than trade names, successfully managed brand images, logos and IDs all emanating from the US/NATO, Israel and Gulf State holders of the patent on terror and their associated marketing agents and concept creators?
Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky also challenges another malevolent bastion of Nigeria’s landscape, the powerful pro-Israel lobby whose growth and expansion in Nigeria had been hugely facilitated by former President and Christian Zionist, Goodluck Johnathan. Nigeria is now home to Africa’s largest Israeli Jewish community (15, 000 in 2014).
The Shaykh is a steadfast and vociferous opponent of the illegal state of Israel and an uncompromising defender of freedom for Palestine, and the right of return for Palestinians living in Diaspora since the 1948 Nakba. His son Hamad, who was reportedly murdered during the 12/12 attacks had been with us at the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine 3rd Annual Conference being held in Beirut and had only left us on December 11, one day before he was to be targeted by the pro-Israel government forces.
Hamad’s final recorded speech before his untimely death had been one that supported and celebrated al-Quds Day rallies and protests particularly in Nigeria and Pakistan where lives have been routinely lost in the battle to honor and protect the core identity of the Palestinian struggle, al-Quds. Hamad had, himself, lost his three brothers, Ahmed, Hamid, and Mahmood during one such rally in August 2014 when 85 Islamic Movement supporters were mowed down during another Nigerian army attack on unarmed solidarity demonstrators for the Palestinian cause.
“I would like to give a message to Pakistan’s brave nation, especially to those families who have sacrificed the lives of their loved ones and to those whose loved ones were martyred in Quetta during al-Quds rally. I am proud that my brothers were martyred in al-Quds rally and they gave their lives for supporting the Palestinians.” These were Hamad’s last words to the world before the 12/12 bloodbath in Nigeria stripped one more son from the family of Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky. Hamad gave his young life in the service of peace and freedom — a life that was un-recognised by Western or even Palestinian media on the day he died.
Paul Larudee of Free Palestine had this to say about a young man who impressed all who met him at the Beirut conference with his quiet humility and unassuming humanity, “Such a sweet and intelligent young man, very quiet and unassuming. Made me want to know him better. According to him Boko Haram is just another group of terrorist thugs, thriving like ISIS through infusions of money and arms from both outside and inside Nigeria. Our tax dollars at work. Why does the greatest evil always seem to rise to the top of our societies, while the poor and the meek are always ready to help others? Is evil the only way to rise to a position of strength?”
Into this maelstrom of lawless and Machiavellian meddling in Nigeria we can add one final component without which the neocolonialist frontlines would not be complete: the Saudi Wahhabi agents of Islamic “change” who are the subterranean source of Muslim extremism and religious fanaticism; the funders and suppliers of the brand name proxy forces, deployed to whip up the “terror” frenzy wherever it is required to destabilize or unhinge unity that may jeopardize Empire’s intent.
With ultimate irony, it is Riyadh that is self-appointed to combat the terrorism created in its image, by forming a coalition of 34 predominantly Muslim nations, Nigeria included, with the predictable exclusion of Iran, Syria and Iraq all of whom are involved in battling the Saudi-NATO sourced terror hordes on the ground.
In direct contrast with this deliberate policy of divide and conquer, Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky is a man of religious respect and tolerance. He embraces Christians, Sunnis, and Sufis alike despite his Shi‘i-based movement and its ties with Tehran, which naturally represents an additional and perceived monumental threat to US/NATO and Saudi/Israeli regional hegemony.
The Islamic Movement is also renowned for its reformist policies, prioritizing education and establishing Islamic schools incorporating secular subjects in addition to Qur’anic teaching.
Hospitals and health clinics have been set up where care is free for those without the means to pay for it. The Shaykh has deterred his supporters from shedding their own blood to commemorate the shedding of Imam Husayn’s blood and redirected them to donate this blood to local hospitals, thus saving lives in memory of their beloved Imam Husayn (a).
The Western media silence over the Zaria massacre is indicative of their collusion in this mass killing of innocents and proof of the role they play in exacerbating global sectarian division at the behest of their Washington, Tel Aviv and Saudi donors and backers.
The initial silence of the Palestinian community, the media, the NGOs, and the solidarity organisations is less expected and more worrying given the Islamic Movement’s steadfast support of the Palestinian cause and opposition to the illegal State of Israel.
This is a missed opportunity for the unity of peoples suffering from the same symptoms of neocolonialism, regardless of creed, sect or religion. Al-Quds represents the identity, not only of Palestinians but of the entire Arab world. Those who defend it from Israeli occupation are the ones who are enduring their own form of occupation by the patented terror armies: Nigeria, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria. As these nations unite behind Palestine to pry loose Israel’s jaws from the third most sacred site of the Muslim Ummah.
Palestine is needed to unite behind those who give their lives for Palestine and thus for humanity. It is this unity that will resolve the ancient theological disputes that are permitting the externally induced sectarian fault lines to widen and deepen.
We live in a world where those who are honored are the sowers of discord and the reapers of mayhem, the state-sponsored agents of chaos. We no longer honor the true heroes; we honor an illusion called power and greed. The state media apparatuses serve only to keep historic fitnah (sedition) wounds festering and the “NGO complex” pied piper plays the tune of stakeholding in human suffering, created in advance by the Empire’s composers of death.
Leaders and visionaries like Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky show us the way to a new world, one that is driven by justice and progress, dependent upon compassion, communication, and unification. They show us that courage, universal respect and humility are needed to evade the dystopian future that is being forced upon us by the ruling elite. It is these men of integrity who resist corruption and maintain their morals and fundamental principles despite their own personal suffering and loss that we should honor and aspire to emulate.
“Reason with this: who is carrying out senseless killings in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan ,and Lebanon? They are the same people carrying out attacks here, and we know them. We cannot be cowed” – Shaykh Ibrahim Zakzaky.
Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist, and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She lived in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence and again in 2013. In 2014 she established the Gaza Smile Project to raise funds for children in Gaza. Since 2011, Vanessa has spent most of her time in the Muslim East. She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.