Boko Haram launched a pair of suicide attacks at two mobile telephone offices in the city of Kano. One of the two suicide bombers was stopped before he could execute the attack. Al Jazeera reports:
“There has been a bomb blast at Airtel office. From what we hear, it was a suicide attack. The bomber rammed his car into the gate and blew himself up. The building is on fire,” a policeman told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
South Africa’s MTN was also targeted.
“The one who hit the Airtel office was shot by military men before the bomb exploded … at the MTN office the car rammed into the fence but no civilians were killed,” Ibrahim Idris, the chief of police in Kano, told Reuters by phone.
Islamist sect Boko Haram has previously blown up telephone masts and offices of phone companies, saying they help the security forces catch its members.
A military source said one security guard was injured and has been taken to hospital.
Today’s suicide bombings are the first by Boko Haram since Nov. 25, when a bomber killed 11 people in an attack on a church at a military base in Kaduna. So far this year, Boko Haram has carried out at least 21 suicide attacks [see list below]. The targets have included churches, mosques, newspapers, government officials, and security forces. The terror group also conducted several other suicide attacks in previous years; the most high-profile suicide attack targeted the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in August 2011.
Boko Haram and the global jihad
Boko Haram has aimed to become a player in the global jihad. Its followers are known to fight in Mali with al Qaeda-linked groups, and its members have trained with Shabaab. The terror group has also expanded its propaganda efforts to show solidarity with al Qaeda and its affiliates. In July 2010, Boko Haram emir Abubakar Shekau issued an online statement praising al Qaeda and offering condolences to al Qaeda of Iraq for its loss of Abu Ayyub al Masri and Abu Omar al Baghdadi. He also threatened the United States.
“Do not think jihad is over,” Shekau said. “Rather jihad has just begun. O America, die with your fury.”
And late last month, Shekau praised al Qaeda and said he and his fighters support jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, and Mali.
“We are with our mujahideen brothers in the Cause of Allah everywhere, in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, Kashmir, Iraq, the Peninsula of Muhammad [Saudi Arabia], Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, and other places that I didn’t mention,” Shakau said, while also naming top al Qaeda leaders killed by US and allied forces.
Documents seized at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan showed that top-level Boko Haram leaders have been in touch with al Qaeda, according to The Guardian. In addition, Boko Haram is known to receive support from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and from Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate in East Africa.
The US has only just begun to awaken to the threat that Boko Haram poses to the international community. In June, the US added Shekau to its list of global terrorists, along with Khalid al Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kamba, both of whom have ties to Boko Haram and close links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. But the US government has still not added Boko Haram to the list of terrorist entities, as some officials fear the designation would only serve to further radicalize the group.
Boko Haram suicide attacks in 2012:
- Dec. 22, 2012 – Suicide bombers attacked the offices of South Africa’s MTN and India’s Airtel in the city of Kano.
- Nov. 25, 2012 – A suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed bus into a church at a military base in Kaduna, followed by a suicide bomber in a car outside the church; the blasts killed 11 people and wounded over 30.
- Oct. 28, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed jeep into a Catholic church in Kaduna, killing at least eight people and wounding over 100.
- Sept. 23, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed a woman and a child in an attack at a Catholic church in Bauchi.
- Aug. 15, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed three civilians in a failed attempt to target a vehicle belonging to the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri.
- Aug. 5, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed five soldiers in an attack in Damaturu.
- Aug. 3, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber wounded several people in a failed attack outside of a mosque in Potiskum.
- July 30, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed a policeman in an attack at a government office in Sokoto.
- July 13, 2012 – A suicide bomber killed five people in an attack at a mosque in Maiduguri.
- June 17, 2012 – Boko Haram killed 48 people suicide attacks on churches in Kaduna and Zaria. The terror group claimed credit for the attacks, calling them a “victory against Christian Churches in Kaduna and Zaria which led to the deaths of many Christians and security operatives.” Three other churches were bombed on June 17.
- June 10, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed three people in an attack outside a church in Jos.
- June 8, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed four people an attack outside a police station in Maiduguri.
- June 3, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 15 people an attack on a church in Bauchi.
- April 30, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 11 people and wounded more than 20 in an attack on a police convoy in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba state.
- April 26, 2012 – The editor of ThisDay confirmed that a suicide bomber drove a jeep into the newspaper’s office in Abuja, killing two people.
- April 8, 2012 – Boko Haram killed 36 people and wounded dozens more in several bombings outside of a church in Kaduna on Easter day.
- March 11, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed three civilians in a bombing outside of a church in Jos. The suicide bomber was stopped before he could enter the compound.
- Feb. 26, 2012 – A Boko Haram suicide bomber killed six Christians during an attack at a church in Jos.
- Jan. 21, 2012 – Boko Haram killed more than 140 people during a series of blasts, including a suicide bombing, and shootings in Kano. Boko Haram claimed credit for the attacks, which targeted police and immigration buildings.