BY AMINU GAMAWA
Like most Nigerians, I was shocked when I received the news of an attempt by a twenty-three year old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to blow up a transatlantic flight between Amsterdam and the U.S. city of Detroit. The incident, which could have cost hundreds of innocent lives, if not the courageous efforts of passengers onboard who subdued the attempted jet bomber, is a heinous and despicable act of terrorism. The passengers should be commended for their heroism.
The fact that the incident took place on such an important day of Christmas, a global ceremony that celebrates the life of Jesus Christ, someone that has preached peace and tolerance to mankind, makes it all the more unfortunate.
This is the first time that a Nigerian is involved in such a dastardly act. On behalf of my Muslim colleagues and other Nigerians here at Harvard, I strongly condemn this attempted act of terrorism as a heinous and callous crime which does not in any way represent the character of Islam or Nigerian values of peace and harmonious coexistence. I also strongly urge all peace-loving Nigerians and Muslims to join me in condemning this barbarous act.
The Islam we practice teaches and represents peace and tolerance across racial, ethnic and religious divides. It is very unfortunate that at a time when we are all joining hands in fighting extremism that such a shameful act has been attempted on U.S. soil. Terrorism is condemnable wherever it takes place. I call upon everyone, especially our friends and hosts here in the U.S., to see this act as an isolated event by an individual, brainwashed by some terrorist groups that are enemies to all of us. The conduct does not in any way represent a particular religion or nationality.
Opinion expressed across Nigeria and the steps taken by the parents of Farouk Abdulmutallab demonstrates the commitment of Nigerians to fighting terrorism and extremism, both within and beyond Nigeria. We are all involved in ensuring our collective safety and in resisting any attempt to commit violence against innocent citizens in the name of religion.
I hope and pray that this is the last time we will experience such an atrocious plot against innocent people. I would like to call on U.S. security officials not to use this opportunity as an excuse to harass innocent, law-abiding and peace-loving Nigerians, who, like many others, have nothing to do with this act.
I also call upon the Nigerian security to fully cooperate with their U.S. counterparts in the investigation and prosecution of anyone that is involved in this condemnable act. We should all cooperate and support the security in their fight against terrorist wherever they are hiding.
This attempt is a reminder and a wake-up on all nations that the war on terror is not over. It is a continuing struggle between, on the one hand, evil forces that seek to spread violence, and, on the other, peace-loving humanity. We must all work together to defeat anyone who wants to use violence under the guise of religion to pursue political ends.
Nigerian security failed to detect and arrest Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when he entered Nigeria from Ghana on his way to the U.S., and U.S. security failed to prevent him from entering US despite the repeated warning by his father on his radicalization. These lapses open serious questions that call for a review of security measures in both countries.
Still, once again, the terrorists have been defeated. May they always be defeated.
Aminu Gamawa is an LL.M. student from Nigeria and secretary of the Harvard African Law Association.