Islamist Fulani raiders are waging a barbaric war on Nigeria’s Christians, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, in a brutal campaign to rid the country’s Middle Belt of non-Muslims.
In his first-hand account of the atrocities in the former British colony, Bernard-Henri Lévy writes the Fulani extremists now pose a greater threat than the Islamic terror group Boko Haram, and are responsible for systematic jihadist attacks involving burning, raping, maiming, pillaging, and killing.
Lévy describes the campaign as a “slow-motion war” against Nigeria’s Christians, “massive in scale and horrific in brutality.” And worst of all, he asserts, “the world has hardly noticed.”
Present throughout Nigeria and numbering between 14 and 15 million, the Fulani raiders originated in the country’s mostly Muslim north but have made their way south where they have been carrying out a reign of terror on Christians.
Mainstream media usually describe the conflict as ethnic and economic in flat-out denial of the thoroughly religious nature of the attacks, something Lévy ascribes to “professional disinformers.”
“They are Islamic extremists of a new stripe,” says a Nigerian NGO director interviewed by Lévy, “more or less linked with Boko Haram.”
According to the 2019 Global Terrorism Index, the Fulani militants are now deadlier than Boko Haram and carried out the majority of the Nigeria’s 2,040 documented terrorist fatalities in 2018.
In his account, Lévy chronicles a series of atrocities: “The mutilated cadavers of women. A mute man commanded to deny his faith, then cut up with a machete until he screams. A girl strangled with the chain of her crucifix.”
This past summer, Fulani raiders rode motorcycles into the village of a 28-year-old woman named Jumai Victor, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” and torching houses. The Islamists killed her four children before her eyes and proceeded to slice up and amputate her left arm with a machete. The woman was visibly pregnant at the time.
Another woman, 34-year-old Lyndia David, tells a similar story of a raid last March, when Fulani extremists set her house on fire, cut three fingers off her right hand, slashed the back of her neck with a machete, shot her, soaked her body with gasoline, and lit her on fire.
Miraculously, the woman survived.
There are “too many Christians in Lagos,” one of the Fulani told Lévy. “The Christians are dogs and children of dogs. You say Christians. To us they are traitors. They adopted the religion of the whites. There is no place here for friends of the whites, who are impure.”
According to the Anglican bishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, the Fulani raiders are trying to spread fear throughout the region so that the survivors of their attacks will convince others to leave. Their brutality is essential to create an atmosphere of terror among local Christians.
Whereas the Boko Haram group is confined to as little as 5 percent of Nigerian territory, Lévy notes, “the Fulani terrorists operate across the country.”
Locals complain that the government is complicit in the attacks, turning a blind eye as Christians are massacred.
“What do you expect?” Lévy’s driver — a Christian — asked him while traveling to his burned-down church. “The army is in league with the Fulani. They go hand in hand.” After one attack, “we even found a dog tag and a uniform,” he said.
Nearly the entire political bureaucracy is Fulani as well, including President Muhammadu Buhari, which accounts for the government’s failure to intervene to stop the slaughter.
“It’s hardly surprising,” says lawyer Dalyop Salomon Mwantiri. “The general staff of the Nigerian army is a Fulani. The whole bureaucracy is Fulani.”
And meanwhile the West sleeps, Lévy notes, oblivious to the carnage and systematic extermination of Christians.
“Will the West let history repeat itself in Nigeria?” he asks. “Will we wait, as usual, until the disaster is done before taking notice? Will we stand by as international Islamic extremism opens a new front across this vast land, where the children of Abraham have coexisted for so long?”