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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blast From the Past: Let's Talk About, Farouk Abdul Muttallab

I was going through my list of Posts today and I came across this piece written in January 2010 that I never clicked 'Publish' on. Enjoy.

Farouk Abdul Muttalab means different things to different people. To his father Umaru Muttalab, he is a source of disgrace and embarrassment and another reminder that success in the business world does not guarantee success in day to day life.

To countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Yemen, America and the Netherlands he is a reminder of failed security systems. Farouk’s failed bomb attempt also serves as a wake up call for this security systems. It is by the Grace of God, via the bravery of Jasper Schuringa, that no lives were lost in the process of awakening these sleepy security systems.

To a country like Nigeria, attempting to change the way it is perceived in foreign circles, it serves as a fly in the ointment. However, the persecution Nigeria is going through in foreign circles is totally undeserved. The portrayal of Nigeria in the foreign media since this deplorable climax to the year 2009 has only succeeded in making life difficult for the beautiful species of Nigeria. As if visas were not already hard enough to get, trying to get them in this season would be extra difficult. People with Muslim names would be the worst off. The idea that all Nigerians share similar attributes to Muttalab is highly inaccurate. The fact that Asians generally get good grades in Mathematics does not mean that all Asians are good at Mathematics. It is also with the same analogy that the fact that Bernie Madoff committed one of the greatest financial crimes in history does not make all Americans fraudsters. Madoff is a one off and so is Muttalab.

Branding a country terror prone just because of one misguided youth is a crass diplomatic faux pas. In 2001, there was the British shoe bomber, Richard Reid, a self-admitted member of the Al-Qaeda who was convicted by a U.S court of attempting to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoe with the motive of terrorism. Not to be sentimental, but this incident is almost the same as the Mutallab one but Britain was not put on any watchlist or treated the way Nigeria is presently being treated.
Reading this piece in the structure it is written you are bound to ask “What is it that this dude has a problem with?” The U.S Transportation Security Administration says that beginning January 4, 2010, “passengers flying into the United States from certain countries will be subject to enhanced screening techniques, such as body scans and pat-downs.” The order includes the requirement that “all passengers on U.S.-bound international flights will be subject to random screening”. The countries in question are Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Cuba and Nigeria. I would speak as it concerns me and I know I am on point when I say that as far as I can remember this is the first documented terrorism case from Nigeria. That itself is proof that Nigeria is largely a peaceful country. While I would understand the American need to protect its citizens, I am sure that its not the best way to tame the menace of terrorism. If I were a terrorist I would jump on the plane to Ghana (which is 45 minutes away from Nigeria) and board a flight to America. This attempt to deter terrorists might not necessarily succeed. If America was really serious about eradicating this terrorism, picking countries would not solve this issue completely. If it were done to passengers from all countries it would be a more viable option. Also as easy as it is to blame Nigeria for allowing Muttallab past its security systems, it is easier to put the real blame at the doorstep of both the American and British Security Authorities who had been warned as early as the 19th of November by the father of the 'Underwear bomber' (as Muttalab is also known)Furthermore, the public criticism of Muttalab by Nigerians is another piece of evidence that Nigerians are not terrorists neither do they condone such behavior. It is unfortunate that such an incident involved a Nigerian; however it could have been any country. The appropriate action is not to condemn the entire country but instead to work with the country to prevent a solitary action from becoming a plethora of similar actions.


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