My take on the events of December 25th, 2009

Much has been said about the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas Day involving a Nigerian yet there still isn’t enough information to answer all the questions I have. I find myself for the first time, interested in hearing the story of a ‘terrorist’. Perhaps because he is someone  I can relate to in some ways. Umar  Farouk Abdulmutallab looks like a person that could have been a classmate or an acquaintance. In other words, it feels like he could have been just another Nigerian guy in the diaspora*. Other people involved in terrorism (Shoe bomber, Richard Reid for example) seemed too distant, and in some sense not real. Whereas here is somebody that I can imagine coming across in my life. Maybe somebody that I might even have liked or admired as he is reported to be smart and to have a kind, polite demeanour. This seems like a lot of potential gone to waste. He was intelligent and apparently passionate enough to do a lot of good in this world if he wanted to.

So I find myself wanting to get inside his head. I want to know what he was thinking when he made the decision to detonate an explosive device on a plane. What on earth convinced him that terror was the route to making an impact? Why Al-Qaeda? Was he egotistical or power hungry? Did he have a saviour complex or was he just misguided? Was he mentally imbalanced? These are all questions that I would like answered.

Another thing this incident highlights is the role money plays in terrorism. I first started thinking about this in relation to the militant groups in the Niger Delta. I am hardly convinced by the veneer of ideology that a lot of groups claim when carrying out such acts. For me, what it boils down to is a battle for power that is driven by cold, hard cash.  See the linked TED talk for more on this topic.

Queen Elizabeth II said it best: ‘Some years are best forgotten’.  For Nigeria, 2009 has turned out to be just such a year. With militancy, religious rioting, a crisis in the banking sector, District 9, the disappearance of the President, the looming constitutional crisis and now a terrorist to top things off, there is little for the country to remember fondly from this year.



* Yes he was rich but that would not necessarily be the thing about him that stood out if you met him at school for instance.


3 responses to “My take on the events of December 25th, 2009

  1. For me, He seems so far away. I didn’t even give him much of a thought. He was rich, probably bored and idle. Perfect ground for ideology. Especially if he was surrounded by moral and ethical decay.

    The only thing this made me think was; ‘oh well it’s going to be hell going abroad now’ and forget visas for people without ‘stay’. And this will never go away. You know.

    It won’t matter that we Naija folk have been flying for decades, visiting pretty much every country on the face of the globe, conducting business e.t.c.
    It doesn’t matter that like richard reid, this was an anomaly. All that matters is: he was a Nigerian.
    Unlike Britain with the Richard Reid fiasco, I doubt they will treat this as an anomaly.

    So, when I came across the news I just thought…’oh another spoilt bastard, who can’t get what he wants and decides it is his duty to take other people out/down’ oh dang he’s Nigerian.

    Better start getting my ‘be calm’, have a permanent smile on your face, do not even think of going 1 kilo over weight and carry all receipts with you when you fly.

    • There was never any doubt in my mind that Nigerians would pay dearly for this failed terrorist attempt. Blacklisting the country is unfair but sadly, quite predictable. You’ve got to love the green passport!

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