Re-The Islamic Movement and Iranian Intelligence Activities in Nigeria

By Ibrahim Usman

It is now crystal clear that, Konye Obaji Ori and Charles Idem, who wrote the unintelligent piece in The Africa Report titled, “Northern Nigeria:

An Iranian haven's future implications”, are only copy cats echoing a more condensed rubbish written by one Jacob Zenn on the website of Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, with a title, “The Islamic Movement and Iranian Intelligence Activities in Nigeria”. This is what they say about Zenn: “Jacob Zenn is a consultant on countering violent extremism and policy adviser for the Nigerian-American Leadership Council. He speaks Arabic, French and Swahili and has a degree in law from Georgetown University”. Most of his works focus on Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. What they did not say about him is that, he is also an expert and adviser to Nigerian security operatives on counter terrorism. No wonder he became a reference point to the duo writers and CIA-Mossad hubs such as the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Going through the write-up, Zenn can best be described as a contractor to the Combating Terrorism Center, rather than a consultant. The single thread that runs through the piece is the attempt to portray the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under revered Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, as a militant group, even more dangerous than the so-called Boko Haram. Hear him: “Nigerian intelligence reported that IMN established training camps for recruits from across northern Nigeria”. His proof came from a Nigerian newspaper report, in which a former police commissioner, Tambari Mohammed Yabo had accused the IMN of stockpiling arms. Zenn should have trailed the story as a security expert to the later. Unknown to Zenn, the IMN held a news conference to debunk the false allegation, and even conducted journalists round the centres alleged to be arms and ammunition stores and military training camps. At the end of the day, the police commissioner’s security report was dismissed as “a mere crying wolf where there was none with the major aim of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.” Tambari Yabo was shamed out of office for his unintelligence report, and tissue of concocted lies. The international security and legal expert Zenn is said to be, a mere newspaper report cannot stand a good proof and evidence under any circumstance, to arrive to a conclusion. Zenn did not care to cross check his facts; he only needed a weapon to hit without looking.


The bundle of contradiction he is, Zenn however, without knowing, exonerated IMN of any violent act, where he admits that, “Although the IMN does not promote violence, its imams preach that the West conspires to “dominate minds and resources” of Muslims by converting them to Christianity and secularizing them”. Yet in another part of his write up, he concured with a newspaper report that says: “In the 2000s, the IMN clashed most frequently with Sunnis in Sokoto… The IMN’s rhetoric has in some cases translated into violence”. Had the IMN, through the guidance of Sheikh Zakzaky, been preaching hatred against Christians, the Christians would not have found the IMN appealing and attend its programmes. It is worthy of re-statement here that, because of the cordial relationship that exists between the IMN and the Nigerian Christian community, they attend each other’s special programmes. We have several testimonies of people from various strata in the society to debunk Zenn’s false claim. ”Sheikh Zakzaky is a genuine embodiement of peace and unity in Nigeria”, says Reverend Joseph Hayap. Pastor Yohanna Buru of the Evangelical Church in Kaduna and Chairman, Peace Revival and Reconciliation Movement described Sheikh Zakzaky as “torch bearer of learning and peaceful co-existence”. He even went a step further to call for the establishment of a Christian segment in the fold of the IMN. Honourable Ebenezer, Director Research and Documentation in the Anti-Corruption Network stated why Sheikh Zakzaky is getting followership from all segments of the society thus: “People believe in you because of your transparent honesty, and were I to be a Muslim, I will embrace Shi’a Islam”. Barrister Solomon Dalon, at Sallah Eid feast organized by the Resource Forum of the IMN, described the IMN as the only genuine Movement with a rightly guided leadership having the cardinal objective of salvaging the society. Because his mission is to institute deep seated hatred and mistrust between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, Zenn through the sponsored evil intent, chose to be ignorant of the IMN and the Muslim community in general. For Zenn to insinuate that the IMN mobilized people for “political rallies”, has turned him into a laughing stock. No matter how Zenn views Shi’a and Shi’ism, it is nevertheless an Islamic school of thought in Islam, with the focal point of demand for equity and social justice. This is recognized and accepted by even the non-Muslims alike.


To buttress his point, Zenn quoted an opponent of the IMN: “According to a prominent Zaria-based Salafist imam and Nigerian scholars, Boko Haram founder Muhammad Yusuf also met and followed al-Zakzaky before Yusuf became Borno State amir of Jama`at al-Tajdid al-Islami (Movement for the Revival of Islam, JTI)”. If meeting one signifies sharing similar objective, then unknown to Zenn the “prominent Zaria-based Salafist imam” he cited as proof, publicly declared that he was a tutor and associate of Muhammad Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, and met and discussed with him before his death. Another scholar in Kaduna made similar declaration, that he met Muhammad Yusuf in Saudi Arabia before his death, and exchanged views. Zenn did not in any way report this, but went ahead to say of a meeting that was never held, an association was none-existent.


Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him and his pure Progeny) is central to all Muslims, irrespective of school of thought. Hence the global protest following the blasphemous film on his personality. Even non-Muslims expressed concern over the blasphemy. Unfortunately, however, the writer asserted that, people “were persuaded by the IMN’s message” to protest. How ridiculous!


In the concluding part of his report, Zenn dangerously went a step further to look at the future of IMN, describing it as sheep without a shepherd. “History shows that when groups break from the IMN, they tend to become more violent, possibly because they no longer have al-Zakzaky discouraging them from physical confrontation with the government or with Sunnis and Christians”. This conclusion has contradicted all the violent traits the writer tried to attribute to Sheikh Zakzaky. This statement has clearly demonstrated the efficient control and exemplary guidance and leadership of the Sheikh Zakzaky on his followers, which makes the IMN stands out as shining star in peaceful co-existence and vanguard of the oppressed. The simple interpretation of Zenn’s statement is, you follow Zakzaky you remain well guided; you leave you become violent.


>Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is nothing but one among the numerous CIA-Mossad intelligence for the promotion and protection of the west’s continued domination and exploitation of  weaker nations. Some years back, one Shedrack Gaya Best of the Department of Political Science, Jos, Nigeria, and a Research and Intervention Officer at the Academic Associate Peace Works was commissioned to write a similar mischievously unintelligent piece on the IMN titled, “Nigeria: The Islamist Challenge: the Nigerian ‘Shiite’ Movement”. Totally ignorant of the IMN, the writer did not even know the full name of the leader of the IMN, he called him “Yahaya el- Zakzaky”. He too, like Zenn, relied on false claims and comments from opponents of the INM to write the so-called report.

> The proprietress of Academic Associate Peace Works, Judith Asuni, who commissioned Shedrack Gaya Best later turned out to be a spy. Judith Asuni has lived in Nigeria for 36 years and ran a nonprofit organization based in the oil capital of Port Harcourt that worked on reducing conflict in the Niger Delta. She was arrested in 2007 along with a Nigerian colleague and two Germans and charged with espionage. According to court documents, Asuni and her colleague, helped some German filmmakers get visas to enter Nigeria under false pretenses, posing as academic researchers rather than documentary filmmakers. She was helping the team research their film about conflicts in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to the documents.  In a testimony published, a  member of MEND said, Dr.Asuni through her NGO had maps of the locations of important oil and gas platforms in the Niger Delta region which she makes available sometimes to MEND to help it in its attacks. According to the testimony, “Dr. Asuni is one of those who represent American interests in oil and gas politics in Nigeria”.

>It will not be out of point, therefore, to say that Combating Terrorism Center at West Point is another Academic Associate Peace Works; and like Shedrack Best, like Jacob Zenn. Same ulterior motive.