It’s all about poverty, of course — as you can see in the final paragraph quoted below. Never mind that Osama bin Laden is an immensely wealthy man. Never mind that study after study has shown that Islamic jihadists tend to be wealthier and better educated than their peers. It has to be about poverty, because that is a manageable, solvable problem that Westerners can understand. If it isn’t about poverty, but about religious beliefs, well — Western authorities lack the conceptual apparatus even to consider such a thing.
Reporting from Maiduguri, Nigeria — The Nigerian army launched an assault Tuesday against “Taliban” militants fighting to establish radical Islamic rule in the north of the country, in an escalation of clashes that reportedly have left hundreds dead.
The rebels, armed with machetes, guns and bows and arrows, had attacked police stations and targeted police and government officials in the predominantly Muslim north Sunday and Monday.
In response, President Umaru Yar’Adua sent in the army to the city of Maiduguri to shell the home of Mohammed Yusuf, the soft-spoken preacher who leads the Boko Haram sect, known here as the Taliban. The army also attacked a mosque in the city.
Black smoke hung above Maiduguri, which throbbed with machine-gun and mortar fire, as the soldiers moved in. Gunfire continued overnight.
Shops and other businesses were closed. Children at a school near the militants’ headquarters fled in terror. Many residents took shelter in the Maiduguri police headquarters, which had been attacked Monday in one of a series of apparently coordinated assaults in four northern states….
The latest eruption began Sunday in Bauchi state, sparked by the arrests of several members of Boko Haram. Militants then mounted attacks in Borno, Yobe and Kano states.
Witnesses and journalists reported seeing 139 dead in Bauchi state, but a police spokesman in Bauchi put the number at 39.
The religious violence, like similar, unrelated attacks by separatist militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, is widely viewed as a rejection of a central government seen by critics as venal, corrupt and unaccountable. Poverty, unemployment, poor services and a sense that the urban elite are the only ones benefiting from the country’s oil have fueled the militants’ rage….