Overview: Nigeria experienced a steady increase in terrorist attacks in 2011, particularly in the northern states of Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, and Kaduna as well as in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Nigeria-based extremists, collectively known as Boko Haram (BH), participated in many of these attacks. BH suspects killed Nigerian government and security officials, Muslim and Christian clerics, a journalist, and numerous civilians.

The Nigerian government worked to improve coordination, communication, and cooperation domestically and internationally on counterterrorism matters. Authorities intensified military operations – often heavy-handed – in northeast Nigeria to counter the BH-led terrorist activities. Nigerian efforts to address northern grievances, a key catalyst of the violence, have lagged behind the military campaign against BH. The United States called on the Government of Nigeria to accelerate implementation of its plan to address these issues.

No terrorist attacks occurred in the southern states of Nigeria. Nigerian-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation continued in 2011, particularly following the June attack on the Abuja headquarters of the Nigerian police force.

President Goodluck Jonathan created the position of counterterrorism coordinator and in September replaced its first coordinator, a former ambassador, with a well-respected army general. In practice, the National Security Advisor (NSA) retained the lead as coordinator of the Nigerian government strategy to counter terrorism. The National Focal Point on terrorism – an interagency task force formed in 2007 that includes the State Security Service (SSS), Nigerian Customs Service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Immigration – did not actively operate in 2011.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: Elements of BH increased the number and sophistication of attacks in six northern states and the FCT, including two vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) suicide bombings in Abuja. In the latter half of the year, the lethality, capability, and coordination of suspected BH attacks rose steadily. Incidents included:

  • On January 28, five suspected BH gunmen killed the Borno State All Nigerian People's Party (ANPP) gubernatorial candidate and six others, including two plain clothes policemen and the younger brother of the incumbent governor of Borno state.

  • On May 12, unidentified gunmen kidnapped two engineers (British and Italian nationals) from their residence in the city of Birnin Kebbi (Kebbi state), about 30 miles from the international border with Niger. A German employee of an Italian construction company managed to escape the same attack. BH had not released these hostages at year's end.

  • On May 31, three suspected BH gunmen killed the younger brother of the Shehu of Borno at his residence in Maiduguri. (The Shehu of Borno serves as the second-ranking traditional ruler in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto.) The armed men attacked from a motorcycle with automatic rifles.

  • On June 16, a terrorist detonated VBIED in the parking lot of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) headquarters in Abuja, killing a police officer, the driver of the car that exploded, and at least two others. The blast damaged at least 50 vehicles and shattered windows on the south side of the NPF headquarters building.

  • On August 26, a terrorist rammed two exit gates of the United Nations (UN) headquarters compound in Abuja and crashed into the lobby of the building before detonating his VBIED, killing 24 persons and injuring over 120 persons. BH claimed responsibility via BBC-Hausa radio.

  • On October 16, suspected BH members killed one policeman during a pre-dawn bomb attack on the 34th mobile police force base in Gombe state. Assailants burned 15 vehicles, destroyed a building, and looted an armory that police had recently re-stocked with weapons and ammunition.

  • On October 24, assailants with assault rifles and sophisticated explosives launched a coordinated attack that destroyed a police station and a bank in Saminaka, Kaduna state, killing a policeman and a security guard. The assailants stole assault rifles and a reported U.S. $106,000.

  • On November 4, multiple VBIED and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Yobe and Borno states targeted security force offices, including the NPF, SSS, and the Military's Joint Task Force (JTF) offices, as well as several markets and 11 churches. At least six attacks occurred in Yobe and four in Borno, including a failed VBIED attempt at the JTF headquarters in Maiduguri. Terrorists killed over 100 people, including nearly 70 bystanders at a major traffic circle in the center of Damaturu, Yobe state.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The following developments occurred in the legislative and law enforcement areas:

  • In May, the Nigerian National Assembly passed the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011. On June 3, President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law. The act was modeled on international standards, including UN guidelines. The law, however, did not clearly delineate which police or security agency serves as the lead agency to investigate suspected terrorist crimes.

  • The Nigerian government arrested, tried, and sentenced Ali Sanso Konduga (also known as Usman al-Zawahiri), an ex-spokesperson of BH, to three years in prison after he pled guilty November 22 to charges of sending threatening text messages to government officials. On October 14, authorities arrested Senator Ali Mohammed Ndume (Borno state; ruling People's Democratic Party) and subsequently charged him with four counts under Nigeria's Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 for collaborating with Konduga. At years' end, Senator Ndume had posted bond and was awaiting trial.

  • In the wake of the unsuccessful attempt by Nigerian national Umar Abdulmutallab to detonate an explosive aboard a flight bound for Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009, Nigeria cooperated closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the International Civil Aviation Organization. On October 14, 2011, the Nigerian suspect pled guilty to all charges against him in U.S. federal court in Michigan.

The Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) programs provided training to bolster the capacity of Nigeria's law enforcement agencies to address terrorist incidents.

Countering Terrorist Financing: Nigeria is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, or GIABA, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Nigeria was publicly identified by the FATF in February 2010 for strategic anti-money laundering/combating terrorist financing (AML/CTF) deficiencies. Nigeria committed to an action plan with the FATF to address these weaknesses, but in October 2011 was identified in the FATF public statement for its failure to make sufficient progress on this action plan. Nigeria enacted into law the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, which included provisions prohibiting terrorist financing and providing for the seizure of funds and property held by individual terrorists or terrorist organizations. The act covers the provision or collection of funds used to carry out terrorist acts, including property and funds used by individuals or terrorist organizations. In addition, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act includes money laundering and terrorist financing provisions. However, it should be noted that there are some outstanding concerns that the criminalization of terrorist financing may not be fully in line with international standards. The Nigerian government did not prosecute terrorist financing crimes under either of these laws in 2011.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: The Nigerian government was a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF); Nigeria's Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru attended Secretary Clinton's launch of the GCTF in New York in September and the working group on Justice and Rule of Law in November in Washington.

The Nigerian government hosted and fully participated in the development of Economic Community of West African states' (ECOWAS) "counterterrorism strategy and implementation plan." Nigeria also helped to develop the ECOWAS "political declaration against terrorism." The May counterterrorism strategy planning and review meeting occurred at the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja. Nigeria sent representatives to the November 2011 "Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism" meeting in Morocco.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The MFA, through its Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, had ongoing initiatives to address radicalization and counter violent extremism. The Institute's programs included early warning detection for secular or religious violence, teaching tolerance of other religious viewpoints, and deploying mediators to conflict-prone areas to resolve inter-religious disagreements.


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