There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
- Isaac Asimov
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Suspected Boko Haram spokesman arrested
Nigerian authorities have arrested a man believed to be a spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for scores of deadly attacks, security sources said Wednesday.
Two security sources said on condition of anonymity that a person suspected to be the man who goes by the alias Abul Qaqa had been arrested.
A third security source said officers were still trying to ascertain his identity, while secret police spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said she could not confirm the arrest.
"We made a big success with the arrest of the Boko Haram spokesman that goes by the name Abul Qaqa," a secret police source told AFP.
A senior police source said he had "received information of the arrest of the Boko Haram spokesman ... He has been held for questioning."
A third security source said "agents want to be sure that it is actually the spokesman of Boko Haram. They are still trying to ascertain that."
The man who goes by the name Abul Qaqa has claimed to speak on behalf of Boko Haram on numerous occasions, including to claim responsibility for scores of attacks in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.
Its most deadly attack to date occurred in Nigeria's second city of Kano on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings killed at least 185 people. A man calling himself Abul Qaqa claimed that attack on behalf of Boko Haram.
The purported spokesman has regularly held phone conferences with journalists in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, Boko Haram's base.
Differing versions of the arrest emerged, with one source saying he had been detained in the northern city of Kaduna early Wednesday and others saying it occurred in a raid in Maiduguri on Tuesday.
The secret police source said "he was tracked down using state of the art tracking equipment. He is now in custody undergoing interrogation."
Ogar, spokeswoman for the secret police, could not confirm any arrest.
"When you have an ongoing operation, a lot of people are brought in, and until you are able to put a face to a name ...," nothing can be confirmed, Ogar said. "My office has not confirmed to me that they have him."
Boko Haram has carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks, mostly in Nigeria's north, that have left hundreds of people dead.
The spiralling violence has sparked deep concern in the international community and shaken the country, whose 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
There has been intense speculation over whether Boko Haram has formed links with outside extremist groups, including Al-Qaeda's north African branch.
Diplomats say some Boko Haram members have sought training abroad, but there is no proof of operational links with foreign extremists, and that the group remains domestically focused.
Analysts say the violence has been fed by deep poverty in the north, where masses of unemployed youths have little trust in government or hope for the future in a country long considered one of the world's most corrupt.
Boko Haram has mainly targeted police stations and other symbols of authority. Christians have also been killed, including in a wave of bomb blasts on Christmas day, but Muslims have been victims of attacks as well.