By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, Houston
In the light of the 19th anniversary of the Tuesday September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by the radical Islamists Al-Qaeda, at least, I believe I have the twin tasks of brief historical contextualization and then soar on the wings of contemporaneous juxtaposition.
First, 19 years ago on September 11, in New York and near Pennsylvania, thousands of Americans, Africans and other nationalities suffered deaths from the consequences of the events of the September11 bombing. Most of those being breadwinners for their families.Those wanton terror and wholesale visitation of murder and mayhem did not only affect Americans but persons from almost 20 countries.
For those who have forgotten, Osama Bin Laden, the late driving force for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was based in the largely Islamic African country of Sudan before leaving in 1996, and later settled in Afghanistan.
Also, on August 7, 1998, the U.S embassy in the East African country of Kenya was bombed which led to the death of 207 Kenyans, 12 U.S citizens and left more than 4,000 injured. Within a minute of that sad event, a smaller terrorism blast rocked Tanzania’s capital, Dares Salaam, killing 11 Africans. Now, should Africans care more or morph September 11 into some nebulous, baseless “fraternity of the oppressed”? I don’t think so!
Second, the murderous domestic excesses of these harbingers of death and purveyors of mayhem inside parts of the African continent, such as the Boko Haram In Nigeria And the al-Shabab in east Africa remain existential threats.
Third, it should be a matter of vital national duty that African governments take more decisive and no-holds-barred approach to choke off the camps and networks of terrorism hiding under the veneer of religiosity and a concoction of bloody and assorted fanaticisms.
Fourth, these trouble makers and merchants of death have caused the killings of at least 8 million Africans since the end of colonialism in the early 1960s.
Fifth, my research and threats analyses of the frontline of previous and recent emanations of zealotry and religious violence show that some of the most dreaded and violent groups in Nigeria, Chad, Tanzania-Zanzibar, parts of Northern Africa and the Maghreb region, are said to have been financed from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and other “Brother Islamic countries and agencies.” Only 19 years ago, Jos, one of the central cities in Nigeria with a mixed population of Christians and Muslims, and size-able Euro-American population saw 700 persons killed, and thousands maimed and houses burnt, in a few days in September 2001.
Sixth, Africa and its governments should position their actions and policies around the paradigm that terrorism in the 21st (and in fact during the 20th century) is an issue of domestic consequence. It affects the flow of economic investments, weighing in on the measure for or against international capital, and even the value and safety of domestic/internal business.
My point? Offering or dealing kidgloves or looking the other way believing the terror machines will relent is wishful thinking. The US must also weigh its own policies and actions which do not excuse but can open a window for some nut to engage in their sick pursuits of lethal zealotry.
Seventh, in this quest to make the world relatively safer, it is important to note the views of John L. Esposito, professor ofReligion and International Affairs and Director of the Center forMuslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, WashingtonD.C. and the author of several books on Islam, including The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? who has stated that: “While some governments and experts identify Islamic fundamentalism as a major threat to the stability of their societies and to global politics, others point out that it is important to distinguish between authentic populist movements that are willing to participate within the system and rejectionists who seek to topple governments through violent revolution.”
Eight, I commend Senegal’s former President Abdoulaye Wade, a member of the Mouride Islamic sect whose wife is a French Christian as an excellent reflection that the issue in Africa cannot be that all Muslims seek for conflicts or are terrorists. No.Such reductionism is not only foolish but untenable. I was in Senegal on assignment regarding former President Bill Clinton’s visit inApril 1998 to parts of Africa, and I’m aware of the fact that, although, Senegal’s population is 90% Muslim, Islamic fundamentalism is not common.
Wade challenged the continent 19 years ago, to move “beyond verbal declarations, African countries should engage in direct actions in the global fight.” Note the key word is “direct actions”. Translation: rid your neighborhood and countries of any support or cover for terrorists and bigots.
Nineth, hopefully we will come to terms with the interconnectedness of our global security and individual safety. Such interconnectedness of human security was evident, loud and eloquent in Tanzania President Julius Nyerere’s and Canadian Jews’ and Caritas’ and `Haiti’s position to save Igbo kids such as me from the Nigeria-Biafra (1967-1970) war over oil, violent fanaticism, genocide and what I deliberately refer to as ‘Mechanized Bigotry.’
Tenth, Africans and Americans should unmask and halt radical religio-political hate facilities for terror training and funding of racist acts. In so doing, were acting not only in America’s current best interest but in our continent’s strategic and developmental interests. Although, there are sophiticates among these “armies of god”, the failure of some of those countries’ leaders, Christian and Muslim alike, have made the very poor, uneducated and dispirited willing goons in religious conflicts and fodders for terror machines.
Unfortunately, we never seem to learn the lessons of history.
Dr. Chido Nwangwu, the Founder of USAfrica multimedia networks and public policy organization since 1992 in Houston, established the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the Internet USAfricaonline.com. He served as adviser on Africa business to the ex-Mayor of Houston, Dr. Lee P. Brown. Chido is the first continental African to be admitted to the 100 Black Men of America. He is the author of the November 2020 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity. In July 2017, he was issued a U.S. Congressional Recognition for USAfrica’s 25 years. He has been profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans.
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