What is Boko Haram about?
Our aim is to spread Islam all over Nigeria, that is our mission and I want people to understand that our correct name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad. Those calling our group Boko Haram do so to discredit the group and it ideas. It was formed at three fundamental levels.
The first level from which our group emerged was from people in this country who, for selfish reasons, recruited young people and sometimes children and sent them overseas for education. In reality, these people are totally ignorant of the reasons why these big men take them abroad. In the name of education, these young men are taken to mostly Arab countries and turned into militants who respect only those who sponsored them abroad. Those big men who sponsor these youths don’t have any conscience and no love for this country.
It all started in 2004 when the Government of Mauritania fell. It is similar to what is happening in Libya now, though slightly different. When the government in Mauritania fell in 2004, some individuals from that country came into Nigeria to recruit some youths as mercenaries to join forces with them to overthrow the government in power.
The second level of our membership is made up of young men who were recruited by our late leader, Mohammed Yusuf. Yusuf was approached by some people from Mauritania to recruit more Nigerians to continue with the struggle in Mauritania. The grounds were that this young people were being recruited to further their Islamic studies. They were to serve as a support group to the Mauritanian army. But our leader Mohammed Yusuf rejected the plan. But a number of Nigerian big men who were involved in the Mauritania struggle were angry with Yusuf. This led to a disagreement which pitched the young men loyal to Yusuf against those backing the big men. Yusuf, however, insisted on genuine Islam whereas those opposing him were mercenaries who were willing to serve their master’s interest in Mauritania.
At what point did they leave perfect Islam and become violent?
Whatever I am telling you now I have already made available to the SSS when they arrested me. There was a misunderstanding within the group and this disagreement was between those who received military training in Mauritania and those who were loyal to Yusuf. The SSS infiltrated our ranks and began to arrest many of those who were militants. However, as they were arrested some big men moved in to ensure that the court released them and they came back caused more problems within our group.
In 2009 the disagreement developed into a crisis in areas where our group was spreading Islamic ideals. I was in charge of our operations in Bauchi, Gombe and Plateau. The crisis was more in Bauchi State in two locations and in Kano in one location. In Bauchi, a group began to lay claim to a mosque that was built by our group. This caused a major crisis again and a young girl was kidnapped in Bauchi and taken to Borno State. Our group was fingered but we told one intelligence officer, Bala, who was investigating the case that her relations took her to Borno and if the issue was not handled well it could cause a crisis. The SSS directed us to contact the Commissioner of Police in Borno State to secure the girl’s release. We were still in the process when the Bauchi State governor directed that members of our group should be driven away from the state. That was how our people started to resist the forced evacuation and the crisis with the government spread to Borno State. In fact, the crisis began in Bauchi and not Borno.
Anytime there is a bombing in Nigeria Boko Haram claims responsibility, for example, four times in Borno, Police headquarters and UN office in Abuja.
Yes, we bombed some of those places you mentioned. Remember that I told you that some of our members were recalled from military training in Mauritania. Among them were three specialist in bomb making.
When this crisis began I made a move to the authorities advising that the arrest of Boko Haram members would not bring an end to the crisis. I suggested that the government should stop the arrest and release those already arrested. Let me repeat it today, government should rebuild houses, mosques and schools demolished in Bauchi and Borno states. Government should not interfere in the genuine worship of our group and ensure justice for all. If these are not in place, I predict that the Nigerian situation may become like what is happening in Somalia.
I give this warning because many of those young men who went to Mauritania are being attracted back home because of the violent situation brought by the present crisis.
When I gave my advice, the police chased and arrested me, and kept me in detention. Before I was detained, I gave the police the video recordings of how some of how our members were being given military training, but the IGP ordered that I should be detained. I was left in detention for 10 months.
But those things that I warned about are playing out today. While I was in detention, I was in contact with our people and I still gave forewarnings to the authorities about attacks. I even told them beforehand whenever an operation was to take place. The bombing of the police headquarters had been planned and on many occasions and I had always told them in advance.
In fact, Bala had helped the police because each time I got in touch with him he worked to avert the attacks. If not, the police headquarters would have been bombed before now. Three days before the attack I warned the police that there would be an attack in Abuja that would embarrass the security authorities. Also, after the bombing of the police headquarters, I was summoned before the IGP and given a GSM phone. I called the person who planned and led the attack and we spoke right in front of the IGP. So, all these terror attacks are caused by the negligence of government.
Since I was released from detention, I have rejoined my group and some of us have warned our members to stick to the original ideals of our leader, Yusuf. He did not tell us to kill innocent people or to break into and steal from banks. If there is a conflict between the faithful and the authorities our opposition should be against the authorities and not the talakawas.
There are allegations that Boko Haram is being sponsored by some top level politicians, is it true?
The truth is that politicians are the root cause of this Boko Haram problem. For instance, in Borno State, the governor sponsors a group of armed youths known as ECOMOG. It is this ECOMOG that the governor formed and looks after, above the police, SSS and other security agencies. In Gombe State, the governor has the Kalari. I was once contacted by a governorship candidate to kill an opponent for a fee. The security agencies know what I am telling you.
In Bauchi there is the Tarafuka, an armed group sponsored by the government, and the government watches on, even when we have the SSS and police. That is why our new leader, Mallam Abubakar Shekau, is calling on the youths to disregard all government in the country – a call that has that has brought him and the group into conflict with the government. Some politicians are now taking the advantage of the conflict between the Boko Haram leadership and the authorities to execute their own agenda.
Did Boko Haram bomb the United Nations Office in Abuja?
I would not answer the question of whether Boko Haram bombed the UN building or not for some reasons.
Did Boko Haram bomb the Police headquarters in Abuja?
Yes, we bombed the police headquarters in Abuja. I told you earlier that when the bombing of the Police headquarters happened I called the person who led the attack, I was in front of the IGP. Yes, we bombed the police headquarters in Abuja. They asked me why we bombed the police headquarters and I told him (IGP) in his presence that it was because of his statement in Maiduguri that the days of Boko Haram were numbered.
Why does Boko Haram bomb army barracks and attack police and security operatives? What do they do to affect Islam or the work of Boko Haram?
It is because of the indiscriminate killing of our members and innocent people by the police without trial. They arrest innocent people harass and shoot them and the authorities do nothing about it. Why should we then leave the police?
Boko Haram is asking for Sharia in all the Northern states, and the states have Sharia, so what is the problem again?
I have been waiting for this question. I was in detention when it was said that Boko Haram had threatened to turn the entire North, or the country, into a Sharia state. Since I came out of detention have you heard that Boko Haram is threatening to turn the whole of Nigeria into an Islamic nation? The truth is that those spreading such information are just lying against us. What we are demanding is that those states that have independently declared their states Sharia states should implement it to the letter. Have you seen Sharia cut the hand of someone who steals a cow head, while someone who corruptly enriches himself is left to go free? They have chased away local prostitutes and brought in international red light prostitutes to replace them. They have also banned local alcoholic drinks, yet they drink imported spirits in their respective government houses. Is that Sharia? They are insincere, so they must be effective in the implementation of Sharia. Sharia is being abused. I pity this country. Mauritania that does not have any wealth exported Boko Haram into Nigeria. Now, Libya that has money and wealth has collapsed. Who says that this countries would not bring something worse than Boko Haram into Nigeria?