First things first, I am exceedingly thankful that no harm came to the passengers of the Northwest Airlines Detroit bound flight that was the target of Friday’s foiled terror attack.
However, I am sure the events of December 25th, has put a damper on just about everyone’s Christmas holiday – especially at a time when there has been a renewed sense of consciousness about the image that Nigeria projects internationally. Information regarding 23-year-old Nigerian terror suspect, Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been pouring out over the past 24 hours in spits and fits. Abdulmutallab, son of a former First Bank chairman, is not your run-of-the-mill Northern rioter. Having studied Mechanical Engineering at the University College of London, he planned to complete a second degree in Dubai, but informed his family that he instead wished to relocate to Yemen for religious training (Source: CNN).
Last month, I linked to FP Passport’s, Educate Boys, Or They’ll Go To War, which presented the World Bank finding which demostrates that that countries with a low rate of secondary school attainment amongst young males are more likely to be conflict-prone. I automatically assumed that such applies to the the global phemenon of religiously-inspired terrorism. Nigeria is no stranger to such attacks as we witnessed earlier this year with Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is a sin.” Shortly after the September 11th attacks, several have suggested that increased foreign aid and increasing levels of education amongst youth of developing countries could help to curb violent terrorist attacks.
While Abdulmutallab defies this stereotype, it has been well-established that a reduction in poverty may not necessarily correlate to a decrease in terrorist tendencies. A significant portion of international jihadist participants tend to be more well-educated and wealthier in comparison to the general population. Additionally, the educated and wealthy are more likely to view international terrorist attacks as “justified.” In response to NigerianCuriosity’s latest post, I argued the proliferation of child beggars in Nigeria could serve as a breeding ground for future conflicts and by extension, acts of terrorism. While this may hold true for local acts of terrorism within Nigeria’s borders, international attacks, such as that of December 25th, warrants a new paradigm.
The link between political instability within the country of origin of the terrorist and proclivity towards international acts terror may be a stronger one (see here and here). Abdulmutallab is thought to have some connections to Yemen. Dubbed as the next failed state, the Yemeni government has little power beyond its capital, Sana’a. As of April 2009, more than 40% of all Guantanamo Bay prisoners are of Yemeni origin and currently, Al Qaeda maintains a strong footfold within the country’s borders.
Performing even worse than last year, Nigeria ranked higher than Yemen in the 2009 Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index. Interestingly, Muttalab’s attack comes more one month after Yar’adua went Missing In Action from the Nigerian presidency. Almost 50 years post-independence, Nigeria remains rudderless in a sea of political instability that threatens to overtake us. Well, with such a trajectory of leadership (or, err, lack thereof), we Nigeria may become the latest frontier for the launching of future international terrorist attacks.