NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S COLUMN REPORTS ON ISLAMISM FACTOR IN NIGER DELTA TENSIONS

November 30, 2006

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, reports on the little-known Islamist factor in the ongoing tensions in Nigeria’s strategically important Niger Delta region.

According to Dr. Pham, “while most of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta are either Christians or adherents of traditional African religion, there is a growing Muslim presence, often linked with militant Islamist ideology as is the case with [rebel leader] Asari Dokubo who is an outspoken admirer of Osama bin Laden and has drawn parallels between his struggles against the Nigerian federal authorities and al-Qaeda’s ‘fight against the arrogance of the West.’” Furthermore, “it would not require much for al-Qaeda and other foreign radical Islamist groups to establish financial and strategic links with Niger Delta militants” who have already cut Nigerian production by an estimated 500,000 barrels of oil per day (approximately 25 percent of output capacity).

o read Dr. Pham’s article, “Islamism Comes to the Niger Delta,” click here