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I Support Terrorist Groups Like Taliban, Al-Qaeda But I’m Not A Fan Of Boko Haram — Isa Pantami |The Republican News

Minister of Communications and Digital, Isa Pantami


Though Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami denounces any allegiance to Boko Haram, he expressed support for the global extremist groups, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

“This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria,’’ Mr Pantami said in one of his vicious preachings in the 2000s. “Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda (Allahumma’ nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm al Qā‘ida).”

Mr Pantami’s call to Jihad and unalloyed support for murderous groups portray him as a dyed-in-the-wool Islamic fundamentalist. Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mr Pantami as communications minister to control the country’s massive data and telephone infrastructure and other sensitive details of national intelligence.

When contacted on Wednesday by newsmen regarding his support for the terrorist groups, the minister did not comment.

On Monday, Mr Pantami threatened to sue some media platforms for reporting that he is on the U.S. terror watchlist for supporting Boko Haram.

The minister had claimed on Twitter that his lectures “against the doctrines and all other evil people (terrorists) have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria.”

But he failed to acknowledge that he is an avowed supporter of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, as revealed in a 2019 academic document ‘Debating Boko Haram’.

Mr Pantami invited Muslims, especially “Ahlus Sunna” (Salafis), to be sceptical of politicians and religious leaders calling for peace and understanding but retaliate with jihad.

“This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria (hādhā jihād farḍ ‘ayn ‘ala kull muslim wa-khuṣūṣan fī Nījīriyā),” he added. Mr Pantami’s comments were translated by Professor Andrea Brigaglia, an African expert at Naples University in Italy. Nigerian scholar Musa Ibrahim of the University of Florida in the United States contributed to the paper that explored the onset of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Top journal publisher academia.edu published the research in March 2019, several months before Mr Buhari tapped Mr Pantami as a minister. Mr Pantami’s violent preachings, which he rendered in Hausa and Arabic throughout the late 1990s and early to mid-2000s, had gone largely unreported in the Nigerian mainstream media.

The document detailed how Mr Pantami offered himself as a volunteer to mobilise the Hisba police of the North, requesting to be appointed as the “commander” (kwamanda) of a militia (ready to travel to Yelwa Shendam) to fight in defence of the Muslims.

The speech, which is about 20 minutes long, concluded with the prayer, “Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda (Allahumma’ nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm alQā‘ida).”

“During his speech, Pantami is in tears, and his voice is often broken by sighs. The genuineness of his emotional response to what was, without doubt, a dramatic episode in the history of violent conflict in Plateau state is obvious,” said the report.

In a second speech, delivered in 2006, Mr Pantami offered his public condolences for the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Zarqawi.

“May God have mercy on Aḥmad alFāḍil al-Khalayleh, raḥmatullāh’ alayhi. May God forgive his mistakes. He is a human being. He has certainly some mistakes in front of God, so may God forgive his mistakes. Who am I talking about? He is Abū Muṣ‘ab al-Zarqāwī.

“He was born in 1966 of the Christian era, that is forty years ago. […] After some time, he was given responsibility for a camp in Herat. It was the Commander of the Faithful (Amīr almu’minīn) Mollah Omar ‒ may God preserve him ‒ who personally gave him the authority to run this camp.”

The document noted Mr Pantami as further saying, “To this date, in the community of the Prophet we have some awesome people, people of awesome faith, who follow the creed of the Sunna and thanks to whom the enemies of God are unable to find rest in this world.

“They have killed the Shaykh, the martyr Abdallah Yusuf Azzam ‒ may God have mercy on him ‒ but did the struggle end? They went on to strike Chechnya, and they killed many of them: did it end? […] Whenever one goes, another one comes, and he is even more awesome than the first,” Mr Pantami added.

In 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan made a veiled reference to the fact that terrorists and their sympathisers had infiltrated his government. Boko Haram and other terror groups in the country have continued to terrorise Nigerians by the wanton destruction of lives and property. Source: Peoples Gazzette

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White House: McCain ‘Owes Apology’ To Dead SEAL For Criticising Yemen Raid

Abigail Williams and Tracy Connor and Courtney Kube and Frank Thorp V

The White House said Wednesday that anyone who questions the success of last week’s deadly U.S.-led raid in Yemen “owes an apology” to the Navy SEAL who was killed there.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments came shortly after Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would not call the raid a success.

“When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost … I don’t believe you can call it a success,” McCain, who was briefed after the raid, told NBC News.

At a press briefing where NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him about McCain’s assessment, Spicer said that “anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice” to the life of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in a firefight.

“He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission,” Spicer said.

Spicer repeated his declaration that the Jan. 28 strike — which also left an 8-year-old girl and an unknown number of other civilians dead — was a “huge success.”

Image: CPO William 'Ryan' Owens           © Chief Petty Officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens. Image: CPO William ‘Ryan’ Owens  

Officials in Yemen apparently did not view it that way.

After the raid, Yemen’s president expressed “hesitancy” about allowing the U.S. to conduct future ground operations in his country, two U.S. defense officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said that after an “interagency” effort to reassure President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, they have confidence that military action in Yemen targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — which would include air and drone strikes — will continue.

The State Department pushed back against reports that Yemen had requested a suspension of American antiterror missions on the ground, noting that Yemen’s foreign minister had denied it.

That minister did tell the Associated Press that a “reassessment” of the Jan. 28 raid is underway and that Yemen is “in talks” with the Trump administration about what happened.

The operation targeting an al Qaeda encampment in south-central Yemen was the first military strike carried out under President Donald Trump and did not go off as planned.

“Almost everything went wrong,” a senior U.S. military official told NBC News last week.

As Navy SEALs and troops from the United Arab Emirates descended, the militants were tipped off by something — possibly a barking dog, a hand landing by a drone or walkie-talkie chatter.

In the firefight that ensued, SEAL Team 6 member Owens was killed, along with the 8-year-old daughter of U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and an unknown number of other non-combatants, military and intelligence officials have said. An MV-22 Osprey was also destroyed.

Image: An image of 8-year-old Nora Anwar Al-Awlaki© An image of 8-year-old Nora Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed in a raid in Yemen ordered by President … Image: An image of 8-year-old Nora Anwar Al-Awlaki  

Computer equipment was seized, and Spicer said that the intelligence gathered from that will prevent future terrorist attacks, though he provided no specifics.

McCain said the seizure of electronic equipment was one objective of the raid, along with killing and capturing “bad guys.”

“My understanding of the parameters of the raid were they wanted to capture individuals and obviously they didn’t want to kill children or women and obviously it was not the intention to lose a $75 million airplane as well as the loss of a life,” he said.

“So I believe those were the parameters with which they embarked on the mission. Obviously that didn’t happen.”

The White House and the Pentagon have denied that a target of the raid was Qassim al-Rimi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who is considered the third-most dangerous terrorist in the world.

A senior White House official, however, told NBC News that the possibility of capturing al-Rimi “drove the highest level deliberations” over whether to send in the SEALs. Days later, al-Rimi issued an audio message taunting Trump as a “fool.”

Image: Qassim al-Rimi© Qassim al-Rimi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Image: Qassim al-Rimi  

The U.S. has been trying to dismantle AQAP, one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous arms, since 2002, attacking with done and air strikes and boots on the ground.

While it’s not clear if Yemeni officials are discussing whether to restrict U.S. antiterror operations on their soil, the State Department stressed continued cooperation between the two nations.

“Yemen suffers most directly from the threat of AQAP and President Hadi has been a stalwart partner in the fight against AQAP and ISIS,” spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday.

“We will continue to work with him and his representatives to ensure that this important partnership remains solid in order to ultimately eradicate AQAP/ISIS from Yemen.

“The United States conducts operations consistent with international law and in coordination with the government of Yemen. We will not relent in our mission to degrade, disrupt and destroy al Qaeda and ISIS.” (NBC News)

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Deadly Yemen Raid Had Secret Target: ‘Most Wanted’ Al Qaeda Leader

Cynthia McFadden and William M. Arkin and Tracy Connor

Image: Yemen-based al-Qaeda wing military chief Qassim al-Raymi© An undated Yemeni police wanted poster released by the Yemeni Interior Ministry shows on 12 October … Image: Yemen-based al-Qaeda wing military chief Qassim al-Raymi  

The Navy SEAL raid in Yemen last week had a secret objective — the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who survived and is now taunting President Donald Trump in an audio message.

Military and intelligence officials told NBC News the goal of the massive operation was to capture or kill Qassim al-Rimi, considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world and a master recruiter.

But while one SEAL, 14 al Qaeda fighters and civilians including an 8-year-old girl were killed during a firefight, al-Rimi is still alive and in Yemen, multiple military officials said.

On Sunday, al-Rimi — who landed on the U.S. most-wanted terrorist list after taking over al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate in 2015 — released an audio recording that military sources said is authentic.

“The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands,” he said in an apparent reference to the Jan. 29 raid.

It’s not clear if al-Rimi was at the al Qaeda camp but escaped when SEAL Team 6 and Emirati commandos descended, if he happened to be elsewhere, or even if he was tipped off.

The White House — which had declared the raid “a successful operation by all standards” — had no comment Monday on his escape from death. The Pentagon also declined to comment.

Juan Zarate, a national security adviser in the Bush administration and an NBC News analyst, said that even though the raid did not neutralize al-Rimi, it could still yield smaller victories.

“Certainly if the goal is to capture the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that didn’t happen. It wasn’t successful in that regard,” he said.

“On the other hand, a number of al Qaeda leaders were killed, and al Qaeda was disrupted, at least in terms of that cell. They understand that the U.S. is willing to lean forward and perhaps they’re being deterred or disrupted in their activities.

“And we may have collected incredibly valuable intelligence that will lead to further disruptions and further counterterrorism activities down the road.”

Military officials told NBC News that it was the prospect of taking out al-Rimi that convinced the U.S. chain of command that the mission was worth the risk.

Preparation spanned two administrations. After the election, the Pentagon presented the Obama team with a broad plan to accelerate U.S. counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, and the Obama administration referred the proposal to the incoming Trump team.

After two months of military preparation increasingly focused on the opportunity to capture al-Rimi, Trump was told by Defense Secretary James Mattis and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that his capture would be a “game changer,” according to a senior White House official with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The so-called “package” for the mission was larger than any counterterrorism strike since the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden: two dozen SEALs, backed up by 30 to 40 other Americans on the ground and in the air. A half-dozen Yemeni soldiers and a dozen commandos from the United Arabs Emirates who had developed the intelligence leading to the target were also involved, and a Marine Corps Quick Reaction Force was waiting off shore, multiple officials say.

A senior U.S. intelligence official has told NBC News that “almost everything went wrong” once the raid got underway. Occupants of the target house were alerted by something — possibly a barking dog, a drone crash or a walkie-talkie chatter, U.S. officials said.

The raiding force on the ground came under fire and fighting erupted around houses where women and children were staying, with some armed women firing on the U.S. and Emirati forces, senior military official told NBC News.

Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens of SEAL Team 6 was mortally wounded, and an MV-22 Osprey called in as backup had a hard landing and was rendered useless. A pair of Harrier jets and a pair of helicopter gunships arrived and attacked the encampment and destroyed the Osprey, the military official said.

The Pentagon later acknowledged that civilians were killed, possibly including children. The dead included the 8-year-old Nawr al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen through her father American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a 2011 airstrike in Yemen.

After the raid, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it had been “a successful operation by all standards” and the Pentagon released a statement that said U.S. forces had captured “materials and information that is yielding valuable intelligence.”             NBC News

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