John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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A Christmas nightmare averted: lessons from the 2009 ‘underwear bomber’

by John Campbell
January 5, 2011

People gather to pray at a mass grave for the victims of religious riots, in Nigeria's central city of Jos December 27, 2010. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

In Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, religion is a central identity for a large part of the population along with ethnicity. Both are likely to play a significant role in Nigeria’s April 2011 presidential elections.

In this article I did for the Washington Post’s “On Faith,” I analyze Christian-Muslim conflict in Nigeria on the anniversary of Abdulmutallab’s efforts to bring down a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Raff

    But did Nigeria really play a role in Abdulmutallab’s radicalisation? Wasn’t it mostly London and Yemen?

  • Posted by John Campbell

    It looks to me like Abdulmutallab made contact with al-Qaeda in London or Yemen. But he was radicalized in Northern Nigeria by the blatant discrepancy between Islamic teaching and Northern Nigerian society. And he appears to have been a religious fanatic.

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