Sunday, February 12, 2012


We were at the peak of working on the Abuja Interfaith Forum which came up after our visit to Archbishop Onaiyekan, when Imam Fuad Adeyemi of Al-Habibiyyah Mosque came to my residence in order to update me on the progress of work in a committee in which he is a member. It was after discussing the committee’s report that Imam Fuad broke the news of my being wikileaked, and he actually opened the link on his BlackBerry phone:

The link has a number of coded messages to be deciphered by its authors in the American Embassy in Abuja and the intended addressees at Washington. I can hazard a guess or two regarding the first codes. They are the reference codes for whistleblowing site, Wikileaks. For example, Reference id aka Wikileaks id #122243?  Subject (s/nf) Nigeria: Identifying "credible Voices" Origin Embassy Abuja (Nigeria) Cable time Fri, 14 Sep 2007 12:58 UTC Classification SECRET Source means that the reference identity number for the said leak is 122243 in the Wikileaks archives and that the subject is about Nigeria and how to identify credible voices among its Muslim leaders. The cable was sent on Friday 14th September 2007 (when I was the President of the Muslim Consultative Forum) at 12:58pm. It was classified as secret by Wikileaks since the source is to be protected. This is how far I can guess the codes.

Some are mind-boggling and really cryptic like this part: “References 07ABUJA1327, 07ABUJA215, 07ABUJA270, 07ABUJA484, 07ABUJA968 History First published on Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24 UTC  VZCZCXYZ0007 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHUJA #2007/01 2571258 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 141258Z SEP 07” This part: “FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0945Hide header S E C R E T ABUJA 002007 SIPDIS SIPDIS CTCC FOR JAMES VAN DE VELDE, DEPT FOR AF/PD E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2032” seems to be clearer; it says the cable is from the American Embassy in Abuja to be sent immediately to the then US Secretary of State ( Ms Condoleezza Rice), it is to be marked as secret and originating from Abuja in 2007 and should be sent on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network Distribution channel otherwise known as SIPRNET Distribution or SIPDIS for short as used here. On the same distribution channel, a certified copy should be sent to James Van de Velde at the Department for Africa’s Political Desk, whom I shall mention in detail below. The document is supposedly classified by Robert Gribbin, the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Nigeria, and would be declassified on the 6th of September 2032, some 25 years after it was authored! I leave the rest for you to decode: TAGS: KISL [Islamic Issues], PINR [Intelligence], NI [Nigeria] SUBJECT: (S/NF) NIGERIA: IDENTIFYING "CREDIBLE VOICES" REF: A. SECSTATE 122288 B. ABUJA 484 C. ABUJA 968 D. ABUJA 215 E. ABUJA 1327 F. ABUJA 270 Classified By: CDA Robert Gribbin for Reasons 1.4 (c). ¶1.  (S//NF) Per Ref A request, names follow of "credible voices" in Nigeria's Muslim communities. (Here again, the cable was as per Ref A’s (Secretary of State) request for a list of so-called credible voices in Nigeria’s Muslim community). I will leave my comments on the implications for now, insha Allah.

You might need the help of Dan Brown’s creation, Dr Robert Langdon of the Da Vinci Code fame to be able to make any sense out of the remaining espionage jargons. However, the fact that this secret cable addressed the issue of “Identifying Credible Voices in Nigeria's Muslim Communities” was clear enough; for the attention of James Van De Velde, in 2007, may be, and the author, probably, Robert Gribbin for reasons 1.4, whatever that may mean.

The cable mentioned some of Muslim leaders and scholars around Nigeria, and evaluated how credible each one of them is through a list it itemised as follows: A) Influence, B) Biographical Notes, C) Geographic Area of Influence, D) Audience, E) Forums, F) Credibility & Suitability, and G) The Nature of any Current Relationship with the US government. Some of the people analysed included Shaykh Sharif Ibrahim Saleh AL-HUSSAINI, Shaykh Aminudeen ABUBAKAR and Shaykh Ahmed LEMU. Others were, Imam Fouad ADEYIMI (sic. ADEYEMI), Shaykh Ibrahim KHALIL, Lateef ADEGBITE and even Sultan Muhammadu Sa'ad ABUBAKAR III.

I will desist from mentioning what the cables say about others. Readers can click the link and see for themselves. This piece is on how I was wikileaked.  

                                                     James Van De Velde

On this writer, the cable says:

(S//NF) Ustaz Muhammad Abubakar SIDDEEQ

(A) INFLUENCE: As Deputy Imam of the National Mosque, Siddeeq has given the Friday sermon to crowds of well over a thousand.  As head of the Muslim Consultative Forum, Siddeeq is also in close contact with other Imams in Abuja.  While not a commanding orator, Siddeeq is influential with youth.


-- Age: 41

-- Gender: Male

-- Religious Affiliation: Sunni

-- Ethnicity: Hausa-Fulani

-- Education: LLB, Bayero University Kano (1993); BA

(English), University of Abuja; Siddeeq is fluent in English and Hausa and proficient in Arabic.

-- Occupation: President, Muslim Consultative Forum (Abuja);

Managing Director, Comerel Travels & Tours Ltd. (Abuja);

Deputy Imam, National Mosque (Abuja)



(E) FORUMS: Radio, mosque sermons, public lectures


-- Any known disagreements and criticisms of US policy: US

Foreign policy in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan

-- Any known record of advocating violence against the US or

its allies: NO

-- Ideological position regarding jihad: Unknown

-- Any known derogatory information: NO

-- Any known calls for violence against this individual: NO

(G) The nature of any known current relationship with the

USG: Siddeeq spoke at an Embassy-sponsored event in 2006

If you were me, will you laugh or cry over the above dossier? Your personal details used without your consent in ways that you cannot understand. What is the American Embassy going to do, or has done with the information? What type of credibility is America looking for in us? What suitability?

One will only hope that we were not used in any way to hamper Islam or our country. When we relate with foreigners generally, we do that with the best of intentions, trying to explain the precepts of our religion and how we can achieve peaceful co-existence among the adherents of various creeds in the world. Little did we know that this seemingly honest interaction was used by the other side to gather dossier on the unsuspecting other.

When I googled JAMES VAN DE VELDE to whom our dossiers were sent, I found that “James Van de Velde, Ph.D., is a former White House Appointee for nuclear weapons arms control under President George H.W. Bush Sr., Lecturer of Political Science and residential college dean at Yale University, State Department foreign service officer and naval intelligence reserve officer.  He was a fellow at the Stanford Centre for International Security and Arms Control and at the US-Japan Program, Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University.  From 2003-2004, he volunteered for a Presidential recall (an active duty mobilization) and served as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for al-Qa`ida and biological weapons at the Joint Interagency Task Force for Counter Terrorism (JITF-CT), at the Defence Intelligence Agency.  Van de Velde made two trips to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to interview an individual involved in al-Qa`ida interest in developing anthrax in Afghanistan.”

How sad! So all along we were on their radar as terrorism suspects, quarantined for any links to al-Qa’ida and other terror networks. I was not oblivious of this. I knew exactly what was happening. What I did not know was that our dossiers were sent to the highest terrorism consultant for analysis. Only Allah will know what might have befallen us by now if Van De Velde had confirmed the suspicions of the smugglers of our dossiers.

Writing about America’s handling of its war on terror sometime last year, Friday 27th March, 2011 to be precise, on this column, I said:

Many countries around the world, following America’s footsteps, have used this war on terror mantra to imprison, subjugate, torture and kill devout Muslim activists who risked demanding for political freedom or raised dissenting voices to unjust rule. In the name of war on terror every atrocity was permissible; and America would look the other way. Any voice of Islam, an Imam, preacher, scholar and every leader of Islamic organisation is under surveillance by the secret service of his country acting on instructions from America. Make no mistake about it, your telephone/mobile lines are bugged; you have no secrets whatsoever in words or geography; they know who you speak with, and where you may be at any given time; you are a potential terrorist, and so a close eye must be fixed on you. Quite a lot of us do not even know that there are data banks and mainframe computers that glean information from our emails and which record our voices and scan all for keywords. There are analysts whose sole responsibility is to filter voice and data chatter for key phrases, words and names.

“Many have ended up in Guantanamo Bay without just cause. It is part of the new anti-terrorism act in the US to suspect, arrest/abduct and detain anyone for an indefinite length of time. They are even flown to cooperating countries where secret torture cells exist at which the ‘suspect’ undergoes what is referred to as ‘rendition’- another word for torturing a man until he ‘confesses’ to crimes. This shameful and inhumane practice came into light only during congressional hearings in the US. Due to the fact that torture is forbidden on US soil, they secretly take people to other lands for torturing. In an ironic twist, the US publicly calls these cooperating nations human rights abusers for arresting and detaining their citizens without charge or trial!

“Numberless countries have allowed America to use their airspaces and airports for the capture and onward transfer of suspected terrorists without due process or travel documents. These innocent Muslims would be undeservedly imprisoned in this infamous Bay only to come out with one ardent desire which they were not even thinking of before: kill as many Americans as they possibly can! They came into Guantanamo Bay sinless; they graduated as full time terrorists.”

The dossier about me is ignorant on:  -- Any known disagreements and criticisms of US policy: US foreign policy in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan - Any known record of advocating violence against the US or its allies: (?) NO. 

Whoever has sent that secret cable from the American Embassy in Abuja to Van De Velde has failed in not knowing my position on America’s foreign policy. I have written on these pages and elsewhere about the hypocrisy and double standards in US policies. Yes, I don’t advocate violence against the US, but I’ve always criticized its foreign policies.

On 3rd December, 2010, in my AN OPEN RISAALAH TO OBAMA, commenting on his ‘Remarks on a New Beginning’ speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, I said:

“I must state on the outset that I was deeply impressed at your composure, delivery and command of language with which one could not compare your predecessor’s. Also, the phraseology was different. Your speech was devoid of Mr Bush’s polarising phrases of us-against-them or ‘war on terror’. You are worthy of the mandate you got from the American people in as much as you recognise the fact that America, like each one of us, is not perfect. Whenever a nation derails from its values, its leaders are duty bound to bring the ship of State back on its intended course. Since you have acknowledged past mistakes in US foreign policy, you should be bold enough to change and correct them. Doing that will guarantee America’s security and defeat those you called ‘extremists’... Uneven and unconditional support of Israel, invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan, establishing military bases in all parts of a so-called free world to police sovereign nations, applying multiple standards in administering justice and the Palestinian debacle are legitimate grievances oft-repeated by Usama Bin Laden and people of that ilk to recruit new mujahids who relish in hampering America’s security and interests around the world. A viable Palestinian State, as you have rightly pointed out, is in the interest of the USA, Israel and the world at large. Unless this problem is properly addressed by concrete action all these fine words about democracy, human rights and peace will be meaningless!”

I concluded that piece by saying:

“My advice to you is to find ways to minimise the spreading of Islamophobia in the Western media.  A greater percentage of Americans, like many people around the world, has not travelled outside the USA. Such people do not know anything about Islam other than what the media feed them with. The American people need to know that Muslims do not hate them and they are not their enemy. The real enemies are the right-wing American Jewish Lobby in the Congress forcing the government into blind support of Israel’s state terrorism against the Palestinian people and their opposite side in the Muslim world who think it is justified to protest the killing of innocent Muslims by killing innocent non-Muslims. If the Israeli response to your Cairo speech is anything to go by, I don’t see this foe in the Congress allowing you the chance of a second term as America’s President. I’m only praying Allah to grant you the will to defy nay-sayers and match your words with action.”

-- Ideological position regarding jihad: Unknown - according to the dossier.

It saddens me to note that the dossier has nothing on my position regarding jihad. Let the writers of the secret cables therefore, update their records on my stance concerning jihad. Many Muslims are overawed by America’s show of brute force in its so called fight against terror, and by how the media made terrorism synonymous with Islam. Therefore, they are quick to explain the concept of jihad in a way that will not displease non-Muslims. These Muslim apologists confine the actual meaning of jihad to an internal struggle between man and his soul; it has nothing to do with taking up arms or engaging in any military expedition. I am not part of this intimidated lot, for it is tantamount to believing in a section of the Book, and disbelieving in the other! One should accept the entire message or take refuge in faithlessness.

Another set of Muslims saw the naked hypocrisy in America’s dealings with the Muslim world. Seeing unconditional support by America of Israel against their brethren in Palestine; the daily humiliation and murder of innocent Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world, these Muslims waged a so-called jihad against America’s interest wherever it may be, and kill innocent non-Muslims to avenge the murder of Muslims elsewhere. I do not belong to this group also.

I believe in all the verses that speak about jihad in the Glorious Qur’an. I believe its default sense in the Qur’an is to fight. Fighting is only bad where you fight indiscriminately. If fighting was so wrong why do countries have armies?

“Permission to fight is granted to those who are attacked; and Allah is able to assist them. Those who were unjustly expelled from their homes just because they say our Lord is Allah. If it were not that Allah repels some people with others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques wherein the name of Allah is mentioned would have been demolished… ” (Al Hajj, 22:39-40)

This is the spirit of jihad; not senseless suicide and maiming of the innocent. Before any Geneva Convention on war, Islam had well-established Rules of Engagement which even modern warfare can only hope to attain in refinement and humaneness. Allah has ordered us to fight those who attack us; to attack them with the like of that with which they attack us. I believe Jihad is the ‘peak of the matter’, it protects the weak and the innocent from harm. It is not a war-mongering tool in the hands of some stupid blood thirsty ‘towelheads’ as they wish us to be known; it is a check against tyranny and oppression.

“And what ails you that you do not fight in the cause of Allah when the weak and oppressed among the men, women and children are saying: ‘Our Lord, remove us from this land in which its people oppress us. And do fashion for us a protecting friend from You and fashion for us a helper?’” (Annisaa’, 4:75)

These are the words of our Creator; they are for our own good. Never mind the propaganda that mixes every just attempt to defend oneself with the self-destructive tendencies of a few half-baked Muslims who think it is fine to detonate bombs that consume not only them but their brothers and sisters from both faiths.

These are really nothing but mad men with coherent speeches. However, these do not take away a tittle or jot from the permission of Allah to fight those who slaughter, detain, plunder, rape and persecute you on the basis of your looks or your faith and who do not wish to live with you in peace. Obviously, such people will do anything to make Jihad look bad; just as every criminal dreads an effective policeman.

Jihad is not restricted to some inner struggle with the soul; it is part of the whole. I concede that in some traditions of the Prophet (SAW), the jihad of the soul is the greatest, but that does not abrogate the divine instruction to militarily engage those who work day in, day out to blight the light of Allah’s religion through false propaganda and mischief; those who debar free exchange of ideas between people.

I do not believe in turning the other cheek; and if anything, the gruesome carnage in Jos and Kaduna shows that even the Christians do not use that biblical teaching. (But I say unto you, that you resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also). (Matthew 5:39) I will, therefore, strike in like manner as my aggressor with force as is necessary for me to defend myself without exceeding due limits, or I forgive, which according to the teachings of the Qur’an, is better. I do not believe in harming innocent non-Muslims because some non-Muslims have killed some Muslims somewhere. I believe in the law of retribution: The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20) And the Qur’an says: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors”. (Al-Baqarah 2:190)

I believe in freedom of faith; there is no compulsion in religion. (Al-Baqarah 2:256) I believe in peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims. I see those Christians who do not fight me as my brothers and sisters; I will do everything to protect them against anyone, including Muslims who may try to harm them because of what their fellow Christians did to Muslims elsewhere. You will have to kill me first before you may be able to hit any non-Muslim that lives in peace with me. (Mumtahanah 60:8)

(G) The nature of any known current relationship with the
USG: Siddeeq spoke at an Embassy-sponsored event in 2006

Well, I cannot confirm or deny my participation in the above Embassy-sponsored event in 2006, but I hope it will be the last intercourse between me and the American Embassy. It must be true since the dossier captured it; I cannot remember. My colleagues in Islamic scholarship can maintain their contacts and relationship with the embassy. I will not. This is a personal position which is not borne out of any hatred for the good people of America, only that, as Allah’s Messenger (SAW) has taught us, a Muslim is not bitten from the same hole twice. My privacy is dear to me.

Let me conclude, however, with what I once wrote in this column, on March 25th, 2011, about The Difference Between Americans And Their Government, after my return from a visit to that country:

“I now know the difference between the American people and the American government and its foreign policies. Americans are humane, loving and conscientious people. Most of them do not approve of the commissions and omissions of the American government….  It is indeed ironic that as amiable as the Americans are, their government fails to show this in its dealings with the international community. This failure on the part of the government has made people to hate Americans (instead of the government), with extremists willing to pay the highest price to hamper America’s interests or cause the demise of innocent people.

“I have seen the difference between the hardworking, warm, good-natured and tolerant majority of Americans and the hegemonic, war-mongering and ruthless hypocrisy of the American government through its foreign policies. I have also seen the efficient and just way their country is managed. I have seen the people of the United States of America and they look so different from the government of the United States of America.”