Flight 253: AP Scrubs 'M-Word,' Potential Relevance of 'Nigerian Taliban,' Suspect's Reference to Afghanistan

2009-12-25NYTNWA253It has been interesting watching the Associated Press reports on the attempted takedown of Flight 253 devolve in the past 12-plus hours.

In its 8:56 a.m. report (likely dynamic and subject to change), it looks like the assemblage of AP writers who worked on the story have succeeded in:

  • As Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters noted earlier this morning in the case of the New York Times, ridding the report of the M-word ("Muslim").
  • Minimizing to nearly zero the possible relevance of the suspect's home country of residence and of the possibility that he might be affiliated with what one publication refers to as the "Nigerian Taliban."

The wire service's 11:04 p.m. report (not linked, as original was revised by AP), had this to say about the relevance of Nigeria in its 23rd paragraph of 26:

APonNigeriaLateEvening122509

At least it has the M-word, and at least it seems to imply that Nigeria might have some current AQ activity.

That verbiage remained but went to the second-last paragraph of the 3:07 a.m. version of the report (linked, but may change), but disappeared without replacement from the 3:54 a.m. dispatch. The 8:56 a.m. report also has no text discussing circumstances in Nigeria, and has been purged of the M-word.

Kaney Obaji Ori at Afrik.com lays out the relevance in the final four paragraphs of his update on the incident (internal link added by me; bolds are mine):

The Nigerian Diaspora have meanwhile expressed disappointment and concern over the susceptibility of al-Qaeda sleeper cells amongst predominantly Northern Muslim Nigerians. The Nigerian Taliban known as Boko Haram, an anti-western extremist Muslim group that sprung up in Northern Nigeria in July and threatened state civility in Nigeria were armed with machetes, knives, home-made hunting rifles and petrol bombs.

The group went on rampage in several states across Northern Nigeria, attacking churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings, and demanding sharia law for all Nigeria as opposed to democratic western-styled education and ideals.

After the sects uprising in northern Nigeria, many beheaded bodies were found in the sect’s headquarters, including at least three Christian preachers and the second in command of the military operation. Hundreds of sect members were also killed by Nigerian security forces in a major clampdown to dismantle the sect. Over 700 deaths related to the violence was (sic) reported.

The presence of an al-Qaeda branch operating across the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, Morocco, Mali and Niger and Nigeria’s porous borders was confirmed when a report submitted to top government officials in 2007 had identified and classified the Boko Haram sect as a "murderous religious group" that had been train by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. State Security Service of Nigeria stated that "the group was linked to Al Qaeda through some of its members including Barah Abdul and Mohamed Al-Amin who were in Afghanistan and have strong links with some Al Qaeda leaders".

After the July violence, during which Boko Haram leader Mallam Mohammed Yusuf was killed, the group declared total jihad (HT Jihad Watch):

The Islamic sect Boko Haram has declared total Jihad in Nigeria, threatening to Islamise the entire nation by force of war.

In a statement dated August 9, 2009, .... the sect whose activities led to the lost of hundreds of lives in northern Nigeria recently declared that their leader Yusuf who was killed in controversial circumstances during the crisis, lives forever.

In what looked like a declaration of war on the rest of the nation, the Boko Haram sect said it will unleash terror in Southern Nigeria this August, beginning with the bombing of Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu to make good its words.

The group's statement also says that "We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamised which is according to the wish of Allah."

AP also couldn't find space in its 1,100-word report to tell us that many passengers claimed to have heard the suspect "screaming about Afghanistan" during the ordeal. Uh, don't Afghanistan's extremists also call themselves "the Taliban"?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.