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Posted on July 17, 2013 3:41 PM | Permalink | 2 Comments | Printer-Friendly View | Share This Article


17 July 2013

Voice of Russia radio interviews Keith Harmon Snow on Nigeria's extremist "Boko Haram" group on 14 July 2013.  Open link to mp3 file: NIGERIA Snow Boko Haram.mp3

Voice of Russia published a transcribed text here but it has some major and minor errors and omissions.  (There were also some errors in the transcription of the anchorpersons questions, which I have also corrected.)  I have pasted the corrected transcribed text (what I actually said) below. ~

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Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamist movement has been largely blamed for the recent atrocious attacks on schools that killed scores of children and teachers. Keith Harmon Snow, a war correspondent, photographer and independent investigator in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, believes that many of such assaults are perpetrated by criminal elements and governments that seek to destabilize the region for the sake of profit.

My first question is who are these Boko Haram Islamists and what exactly do they want?

"You can address the question of Boko Haram in Nigeria on many different levels.  Let's take the level of "Who is Boko Haram?"  It's not clear who Boko Haram is.  A lot of the attacks that have been perpetrated under the name of Boko Haram are obviously being done by criminal elements in Nigeria.  Some of these criminal elements in Nigeria, I believe, clearly include the government itself. It's in the benefit, it's in the interest of the government of Nigeria to provoke insecurity in order to justify its military interventions.  For example, the Nigerian Joint Task Force operating in the Northern Nigerian states has perpetrated massive atrocities against the civilian population under the name of hunting for Boko Haram.  This is very similar to the U.S. military Africa Command (AFRICOM) position and operations in Africa under the justification of operating against al-Qaeda in the Maghreb [AQIM]."

I see.  Attacks on these schools are really horrific.  And it's very cynical that the leader of this organization would say that they don't kill students and they don't kill women unless they are secret-service-something, but they actually had the kids laid down and shot them.  Is this typical of this particular organization?

"Again, I'd say we don't know who did this - whether it's Boko Haram or... it has the fingerprints of the Nigerian military on it as well.  There are all kinds of security forces operating, you know, covert operations going on in Nigeria that the United States is responsible for.

We also have the battle between the United States and China.  This could very well be Chinese-backed terrorist organizations or terrorist activities which are carried out under the name of Boko Haram.  The fact that they're shooting children or shooting adults or teachers -- you have to question where the material is coming from.  Human Rights Watch can't be trusted.   The United Nations can't be trusted in terms of the information they provide.  The New York Times cannot be trusted in terms of the information that they provide.  So we need somebody on the ground in Nigeria to really know what's going on here. 

But, given that there are these atrocities which are clearly happening, it's the way that anybody in the world today operates in order to whip up fear, the specter of terrorism, the specter of terrorists.  And you know, you have to recognize that the U.S. government defines organizations as terrorist organizations, some of which have never perpetrated a single act of this kind.  So it's more complex than the picture that we are given by the media -- of just a bunch of children being shot.  That's really the propaganda angle to it."

Propaganda or not, you mentioned several organizations that cannot be trusted, in your view.  Why is it that you feel they cannot be trusted?

"It's profit.  It's all profits.  The United States has massive profit interests in Africa, and in Nigeria, in particular.  I worked for UNICEF, from the inside as a consultant investigating genocide in Ethiopia.  And when we completed our report on genocide in Ethiopia perpetrated by the Ethiopian government, who is very close with the Pentagon, the report was buried by UNICEF.  And that's why a year later I released the report, made it public, and said, "UNICEF is covering up these atrocities to serve their private motives, their private profit motives in the region."  So UNICEF can't be trusted, it's just a corporation out for profit.  It's not out to help children.  It's not out to alleviate the poverty or the suffering in Nigeria.  And that's what this is about.  If there is... There are legitimate elements of an organization called Boko Haram in Nigeria, in the North, just as there are legitimate elements of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta [MEND] in the South.  And MEND and Boko Haram both have these legitimate grievances against the government of Nigeria, one of which is its close association with the U.S. government and the Pentagon and private military companies, including Military Professional Resources Incorporated [MPRI] and two others [RAND, Booz-Allen] that are operating with the Pentagon in Nigeria.  And over the course of the Nigerian history, since oil was discovered in 1958, there has been nothing done to alleviate the poverty or bring about development for the people in Nigeria.  It's all what's known as prebendalism, theft of resources, cronyism, and crime, and this includes the current president.  And remember, Murtala Mohammed the President [of Nigeria] in 1979, was assassinated with the help of the U.S. CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] and the later president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is very close to the United States and the current administration in Nigeria."

Given your personal theses about who's responsible and who's behind these crimes, what needs to be done to save the people?

"I think the Nigerians are responsible for saving the people of Nigeria. No one else should be involved.  That's what I think. Just as the claims that Western charities, Western civilizations, Western education is part of the problem in Nigeria -- I'm completely on board with that.  I think Western civilization and Western education is the problem all around the world today.  Instead of addressing the real roots of the crisis in the U.S., for example, or the global climate crisis, what we're doing is -- and which come in the roots of Western civilization -- instead it's written off as... you now... leaders will make all these crazy pronunciations which just have to do with protecting their interests and protecting private profits.  And that's what you see here. So Nigeria is the responsibility of Nigerians.  That's what I think."

Written by: keith harmon snow

Photography Credits: keith harmon snow (where noted)

Categories: , , ,


Nanda | January 22, 2014 6:03 PM

Yes. Many hold similar view. Nigerian Govt cant be absolved from these massive killings. Whats happening in RS is a clear pointer to this

MrK | May 11, 2014 11:24 AM

According to the Wikileaks Cables:


Date: 2009 November 4, 08:31 (Wednesday)
Canonical ID: 09ABUJA2014_a

" 16. (C) Even though the Boko Haram violence was not sectarian, it provoked inter-religious tensions. Dibal said some Christians believed the government gave Boko Haram land, while *some Muslims believed Southern Christians funded Boko Haram.* According to Reverend Umar, the Christian community believed they were targeted, in part, because the Christians introduced western education to the region. Umar stated the government should provide compensation for the 29 churches damaged by Boko Haram and should strategically deploy security forces into communities to deter violence. "

I would not be surprised atall if some people in the South were funding Boko Haram, as a cat's paw to militarize the region.

Also, everyone forgot about the extremely important corporate conference that just happened in Abuja, Nigeria, from 7 to 9 May 2014. Vanguard, Dupont, Mittal and hundreds of business leaders were present to discuss what - GMOs? Biotech? Check out the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Abuja.

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