The Islamic Movement will stick to the peaceful choices in face of the bloody aggressions launched by the Nigerian army, Ibrahim Moussa, the head of the movement, told Al-Akhbar newspaper.
In an interview with the Lebanese paper, Moussa blamed the Saudis for stirring the sedition between the Nigerian government and the Islamic Movement, expecting an imminent escalation in this concern.
What follows is the text of the interview:
1-First of all what are the latest news about Sheikh Zakzaky after his injury with his wife and daughter in the attack in Zaria?
ANSWER: Sheikh Zakzaky is still incarcerated by the Nigerian authorities. They have refused all entreaties to see him. On Wednesday a committee of National Supreme council for Islamic affairs (NSCIA) went and met the Inspector General of Police, demanding to talk to the Sheikh, but he refused. Though he promised them that members of the movement and his family members can come and see him after fulfilling some conditions; though he did not elaborate on the conditions. From these you can see that the authorities are not being transparent on the well-being of our leaders; and that is something that is agitating us. His daughter Suhaila has been released and she is nursing her bullet wounds she sustained during the attack.
2-There have been conflicting figures of casualties due to the large number of missing people and the arrest of many others, including some injured and also kidnapping of bodies of some of those killed. Do you have new figures of victims other than the 1000 you have already declared? Is it true that some injured people were executed, as what happened in the Al-Quds Day last year?
ANSWER: It is difficult to give a definite figure as of now, becouse the army gave mass burials to member of the Islamic Movement they killed. But we are now busy compiling the list of missing persons from the various towns that brothers left to converge in Zaria that fateful Saturday. However we still stand by the earlier figure that at least a thousand might have been killed by the soldiers. Even yesterday some dead bodies of our brothers were seen when the state governor sent officials of a government agency, KASUPDA to razed to ground the Husainiyya complex.
It has also been confirmed to us by some survivors of the carnage at the Sheikh’s residence that some army personnel poured petrol on some injured brothers and set them alight.
3-Whom do you accuse for ordering the opening of fire? Can we comfortably say that Major General Buratai is a new version of a dictator similar to General Abacha?
ANSWER: President Muhammadu Buhari is to be held responsible over our predicament, because the bucks stops at his office. And from the way he has handled the matter – his nonchalant attitude to it – is a pointer to the fact that he ordered for the onslaught on the Movement. Gen. Burutai was just carrying out orders. The army alone without the express backing of the government can’t carry out such an enormous carnage. If at all there is any comparison with late Gen. Abacha then President Buhari’s name should be mentioned. In fact his own is even more painful than that of Gen. Abacha. Throughout the reign of terror of Abacha on us, he didn’t kill that much or destroy that much.
4-Yet another 13 new people were killed, including 6 who died under torture, after the peaceful gathering in Kaduna to protest the Zaria massacre. Do you expect the situation to escalate?
ANSWER: We presume so, because they have decided this is their last chance to obliterate the IMN. But Allah is with the mumin which we are certain they are not.
5-Do you see what happened in Zaria as an attempt by a dominant externally-funded lobby to decrease your popularity and to create problems between you and the President a month after his visit to Iran? Or is it a warning for you by those who consider you as a risk after your requests for credible investigations of the corruption allegations and your attempts to weaken Nigeria’s ties with the Israeli-American axe?
ANSWER: I think both the two play their own part in this attack of the army upon the Islamic Movement. Before this attack since last Ramadan the Wahabbi Ulama funded by Saudi Arabia in our midst did intensify their attack on Shia Islam and the Movement. Most of them were calling on the government to kill us and exterminate the movement. So one can say they prepared the ground for all these atrocities. And survivors have testified that the soldiers were saying to them even if they killed them they will get reward from Allah. Which means before they came for what they term ‘operation’, they were incited against us by their Wahabbi sponsors.
Also we should not forget the fact that since the last regime, the security apparatus of the country has been entrusted on to the Israeli Mossad. And they know how virulent the Sheikhs’ attack on Israel and America is. It has even been testified to us that some white people presumably the Israeli security agents were seen during this attack on the Islamic Movement.
6-How do you describe your relationship with the National authorities in the various stated and in Abuja? Is there a direct communication between you and the President?
ANSWER: The Islamic movement don’t court the attention of the various regimes it has witnessed in its almost forty year history. So like others before it, we don’t have any relationship with this government of Buhari. We treat it just like others before it. We don’t have any direct communication with the President.
7-Which political, religious or ethnical groups are closest to you in Nigeria? Is the Nigerian Maliki heritage and its Tijaniyyah and Qadiriyya Sufism able to stop the Wahhabi invasion in Nigeria?
ANSWER: We enjoy cordial relationship with almost all the religious groups in Nigeria, if you exempt the Wahabbis and Salafist among them. Even them, its only in certain towns that they attack us or instigate local authorities to attack us. The Sufi orders, we even attend their programs and they do attend ours. The Sheikh has even instituted Unity Week between the 12th and 18th of Rabi’ul Awwal, wherein in all the major towns where members of the movement are they invite the ulama from various Islamic groups to talk about Islamic topics. We believe what joined the Sunni and Shia schools is greater than what separates them. And I think It is worth mentioning that the Islamic Movement enjoy a cordial relationship with its Christian brothers. We visit them, and they visit us. And when there is communal conflict we try to give them protection.
8-To what extent is Saudi regime able to influence the Nigerian authorities particularly after King Suleiman’s call to the President where he welcomed Nigeria’s joining of the Islamic Coalition and expressed his support of the Saudi to the Nigerian government’s efforts to combat terrorism?
ANSWER: I think it has emboldened the government to finish off what it started against all the international pressure upon it to stop the carnage. We can see that from the way the 19 governors of Northern Nigeria endorsed the army crackdown, promising to carry it to their states. Though at the time of this interview the onslaught hasn’t reached any other state apart from Kaduna, but we won’t be surprised if they acted on the script given to them.
9-Peaceful demonstrations, called for by Mohammed Zakzaki (the son), continues to take place in the northern provinces of Nigeria. Do you expect escalations if the status-quo remained unchangeable for long?
ANSWER: Yes the processions are continuing, and will continue insha Allah. That is why we call on the government to meet our demands, especially that of releasing Sheikh Zakzaky unconditionally.
10-You have communicated with national and international legal committees to investigate what happened in Zaria. What are the obstacles, if any, that hinders a suitable condemnation of the incident?
ANSWER: The government is not impartial in this massacre of members of the Islamic Movement, so I believe it will try to obstruct any independent investigation on the killings that took place.
11-Do you see yourselves as a national or a regional movement- taking into consideration your influence in Niger, Chad and Cameroon? Can this influence cause a regional tension?
ANSWER: We don’t see ourselves as a threat to anybody, because we don’t take measures to force people to follow our path, the path of Islam. From our point of view there shouldn’t be any tension in the region, though our influence transcends the Nigerian border.
12-The establishment and popularity of the Islamic Movement started amongst students in Ahmadu Bello university. Now, 3 decades later, and with its presence in central cities, how would you describe the composition of the Movement religiously, regionally, ethnically, etc?
ANSWER: It’s true the popularity of the Islamic Movement is rising, and probably that is why the authorities feel they should put a brake to it. But members of the Islamic Movement, followers of Shaikh Zakzaky can be found in all the strata of the society. Even an estimate emanating from those Wahabbis said we are in the region of around 25 million members.
13-What is your perception of the core of the conflict, particularly since you believe, as per the description of Dauda Nalado, that you are the only resistance body in the whole of Africa?
ANSWER: It is true we are the only resistance body, and insha Allah the burning flame of that struggle will continue. This onslaught against us won’t stop us.
14-Your slogans against the Western policies are religious, political and cultural. Will it be limited to those three subjects only?
ANSWER: The Islamic Movement under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is an all encompassing movement preaching all that Islam stands for. We do cover other subject or part of life very well.
15-You accuse Boko Haram of being an intelligence product since it is active geography in oil-rich states of Borno and Yobe. Do you expect that there could be any potential cooperation in the future between you and the Nigerian Army?
ANSWER: As I said earlier we have not been cooperating or not cooperating with any government. We are simply Muslims bent on following the true teachings of Islam. We don’t need to cooperate with the army, because the freedom of religion is enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution.
16-The Secretary General of the Muslim Cooperation Group in Nigeria Dawood Omran warned that Iran trained 3000 fighters of your Movement to fight in Syria. How accurate this information is, taking into consideration the good relations that you have with the Iranians?
ANSWER: What Dawood said is false. We are not an armed Movement. For the past 40 years nobody can pin point a single incident where we used arms on anybody or organization. Even the GOC of 1 Div of the Nigerian army in Kaduna told reporters that they didn’t find weapons with us. These accusations are mainly coming from the Wahabbi-Zionist cohorts in Nigeria.
17-Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Movement, talked about your cause and the massacre in Zaria. He called for the release of detainees and for proper investigations into this crime. What would you like to respond to him?
ANSWER: We were glad he did. We have been in solidarity with the Palestinian cause for long. He epitomize the hadith of the Rasool that says the believers are like one body. Whenever part of it is pinched the other part feels it. We appreciate his concern.
The interview was conducted by Ali Yehya.