By Anthony Kolawole
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTU) ruling this week confirmed what some of us have always known and insisted on. Iran is a sponsor of terrorism, radicalization, extremism and other traits that undermine the safety of other nations. The US Supreme Court ruled that Iran must lose nearly $2 billion in frozen assets to survivors and relatives of those killed in the 1983 US Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia, and other attacks linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran
It took 33 years in the case of the first bombing for victims and relatives of the dead to get closure. That is a luxury Nigeria cannot afford. The US is well established. Iran could not attack on its home soil so its proxies hit offshore targets. The approach is different in Nigeria. Iranian proxies live right among us. Their attack, if allowed to happen, would be catastrophic. Iran changed tactics to start attacking minds of youths in Nigeria with extremism and radicalization. Hundreds of thousands of youths are already so poisoned.
Iran implemented the poisoning in Nigeria through the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). The group already attacked the Nigerian Army. The Zaria attempt on the life of Chief of Army Staff could be a flag operation to test the waters. They did not expect the firm response from the Army. The resulting disarray forced their master Iran, to directly intervene through its envoy in Nigeria, Ambassador Saeed Kozechi.
A notable professor, Abdullahi Mahdi already issued dire warning. IMN is a threat to Nigeria’s safety and sovereignty. It operates a parallel government with cells across Nigeria. Its members do not believe in Nigeria’s statehood. They have their own parallel ministries and officials. They adopted insidious strategy of gradually infiltrating the system. They now hold key positions that mean they can tele-guide government policies.
Their predisposition to violence is well known. It tallies with the Iranian model. It is the means they had applied to subjugate residents of Zaria for over four decades. They unleashed the intellectual equivalent of this violence on the media landscape after the Zaria incident. They blackmail objective analysts of the incidents under the guise of pursuing human rights. It is clear even IMN media wars are directed from abroad through Islamic Human Rights Commission, IHRC. It forwards propaganda materials that are unleashed on the nation to make adherents of other faiths look bad.
Nigeria’s options are glaring: it could play political correctness and allow IMN to gain grounds for Iran on its soils; it could contain the spread of the Iranian contamination. The first option may appear easier and popular but will compromise future peace, destroy territorial integrity and evaporate the nation’s sovereignty. Option two looks ugly but guarantees the future of Nigeria as a country.
Option two will have huge costs. IMN acting for Iran will scale up confrontation with the state. Other Iranian proxies will bomb Nigeria’s offshore assets. But it is still not a bad option.
Implementation must be immediate. Nigeria must follow the US example by freezing Iranian assets that are linked to extremism on our soil. It must scrutinize funding and foreign donations to sectarian and religious groups. Questionable transactions must be stopped and investigated. Nigerian youths must be stopped from schooling in Iran; they always come back radicalized and ready to wreck havoc.
Further steps are needed. Nigeria must get an equivalent of the US Supreme Court ruling. Iranian assets must be frozen to compensate families that are victims of IMN extremism. Iran directs IMN and should bear the final responsibility for its actions. Frozen Iranian assets should be deployed for de-radicalizing IMN youths. They have been poisoned not to be useful to society as they currently are.
Subsisting economic treaties are not worth the Nigerian blood Iran is shedding. Treaties are not enough to lose Nigeria’s sovereignty over. Leaders must see beyond monetary inducement from bilateral deals. They are sweeteners that mask real bitter taste of Iranian selfish interest in Nigeria.
There is more government can do. It must designate IMN as a terror group with foreign backing from Iran. It should pursue similar to be adopted my major international blocs. Its extremism must be curtailed now before it is too late. If Iran’s proxy in Nigeria stages attacks other faiths in Nigeria will not be understanding, it will spark untold crises.
SCOTU ruling is an entry point. Nigeria should make use of it. It should institute its own court case to hold Iran to account for meddling in its internal affairs. It should make Iran liable for IMN sending youths on suicide mission. Nigeria should take back its sovereignty.
Kolawole PhD is a University lecturer and contributed this article from Keffi, Nasarawa State.