By Uduma Kalu with agency report

LAGOS — A British victim and United Nations Special Envoy who spent 130 days in “the hands of al-Qaeda’s African ‘monsters’” in December 2008 in Nigeria has warned that the killing of British hostage, Chris McManus and his Italian counterpart in Sokoto  last Thursday was  a wake-up call to the threat posed by Islamic militants in Africa. He also said one of his captors was a Nigerian.

The former kidnap victim, Robert Fowler, in a report in Telegraph of London, yesterday, narrated how he was kidnapped as the United Nations Special Envoy, attempting to broker peace between the government and rebel Tuareg groups. Fowler said he was nabbed one Sunday, two weeks before Christmas, with his colleague, Louis Guay, on their way back to the capital, Niamey, in a UN vehicle.

“The objective of the group,” he said, is to establish a 7,000 km wide caliphate, stretching from Nouakchott in Mauritania to Mogadishu in Somalia, to be ruled by stern Allah-fearing Islamic sages who could be relied upon to understand and execute God’s will. AQIM believe that by replicating across the Sahel, the chaos and anarchy caused by their Al Shabaab colleagues in present day Somalia, they will be creating the perfect growth medium in which their vision will flourish.

“In the face of the murderous rampage of Boko Haram in Nigeria over the past year, which included the bombing of police headquarters in Abuja and the destruction of UN headquarters; many hundreds have been killed (thousands over the past decade).

There seems, though, to be a reluctance to believe that it is all part of the same jihadi movement. Many want to believe that Boko Haram is different, somehow less dangerous than Al Qaeda’s other African affiliates. While I understand the reluctance to acknowledge that Al Qaeda might have won a solid foothold in Africa’s most populous and important country, again, I know that to be the case. One of my captors was a young Nigerian from Kano; clearly what we would call an ‘exchange officer.’”

Asking that Africa be helped to get over the scourge, the UN envoy said: “After intensive diplomacy on the part of all manner of regional players, Louis and I were freed after 130 days of captivity, along with the two female members of a group of European tourists who had been kidnapped by a separate AQIM faction.

“Six weeks after we returned to Canada, another of that group, the Briton Edwin Dyer, was killed by his captors. Louis and I are very lucky to be alive and we owe our lives to a great many fine, imaginative and hard working people who made it possible.”

Subscribe for latest Videos


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.