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Lessons from an Israeli book: Why the world disrespects the Nigerian passport

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Reading this book on Mossad and its fascinating James Bond-level missions—basically assassinations of terrorists/enemies of Israel—two issues evoked an acute awareness of my pathetic condition as a Nigerian living in Nigeria. For starters, Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service was written by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal.

It started with how the Israelis refused to hit a major terrorist in their crosshairs because, according to the Ramsad (Head of Mossad), “The man carries an American passport.” This might mean nothing to the casual observer but familiarity with Israel’s unforgiving tit-for-tat policy against people who terrorize its people reveals the power of a passport even for a foreign terrorist—an Arab Palestinian whose colleagues were already eliminated by the Mossad to the last man.

What privileges are possible for carrying the Nigerian passport?

How did a country work itself to the point that another country looks at its passport and for that alone grants a terrorist immunity from a well-deserved assassination?

Two things are sure here.

A country where citizens die daily in hundreds without anyone held accountable cannot evoke that sort of respect for its passport.
America didn’t build that awe for its passport by the number of condolence visits the American VP pays to the homes of Americans slain for no reason within America. That respect is only possible because America ensures the certainty of punishment for violators of American lives anywhere, no matter how long it takes to bring justice to such violators.

One day, Obama was briefed that American Intelligence had found Osama bin Laden somewhere in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

How did you know it’s Osama? We used satellite, the sun and the length of his shadow to measure and confirm his height. How did you know he’s not someone else? This compound is isolated. Its gates only open occasionally to rare visitors driving jeeps. They don’t bring out their domestic waste for collection like every other compound in the neighborhood. They burn everything they make. When kids play cricket or football around the compound and have their balls fall into the compound, such balls are never returned but burnt. The kids get paid for that. There’s someone there who thinks he’s being watched. The image fits Osama. Also, only three families stay inside. A man, his wives and family and two brothers and their families. No internet. No telephone. No connections to the outside world except for the occasional visits by these vehicles and the going in and out by either of those brothers on errands. They are messengers for the old man. The old man is Osama. We occasionally see him via overhead satellite videos pacing the compound, hands locked behind him. That’s the only form of exercise he gets. It’s him.

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Obama then turned to his people. Hilary Clinton, everyone was there. What do we do? Take the risk of taking him out? Contacting the Pakistanis is out of the question. He will be informed, and he will run. Breaching Pakistani sovereignty by going in on a covert mission and taking him out? That’s an act of war.

Silence. The only thing anyone in that room that day could say something about was not telling the Pakistanis. Nobody wants to suggest anything else. No one wants to take the blame in the event that the mission happens, and it turns out it wasn’t Osama. The backlash could cost Obama the presidency and even result in a war. Nobody wants to be fingered as the cause of that. Not even Hillary. Obama called off the meeting and went to bed.

Dawn, he woke up and gave the order. It was a go. And that was how Geronimo
was hit in commando style and made to pay for the sins Obama swore to make him pay for, no matter how long it took. It was a high-risk decision. Abbottabad is Pakistan’s most sophisticated military city, so going through that airspace and pulling that mission right adjacent to Pakistan’s military base was something beyond risky, but America could let Osama go. There’s no status of limitation on this issue of taking American lives anywhere. So, before the Pakistanis knew what was up that night, the Americans had taken out all the men in the compound, loaded Osama’s corpse in a bag, blown up their crashed apache within the compound, and gone off to their Afghan base, every document or item needed in their hands.

That is how to run a country and not just restore the confidence of your people and build a passport that even the unforgiving, sophisticated Mossad will look at and say, “We can’t hit Abu Masud al-Malkboof because the man carries an American passport.”

Someone might think they didn’t because America is a strong ally of Israel, no. Not when you read the book and understand the MO and precedence of the Mossad.

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Now compare all that to how Nigerians are murdered daily in hundreds with not a single show of retributive justice on the part of government against the murderers. In Abuja, a woman was beheaded and all we heard was that the VP sent his wife to greet her surviving husband and six children. Entire villages are wiped out and all we hear is, “They refused to give their lands to herdsmen.”

Nasir El-Rufai and Bello Masari even paid killers to “stop the killings.” Nigerians in hundreds perish daily and the debate is how the murderers can be granted amnesty—because militants from the Niger Delta got one. The only commands the president of Nigeria is capable of is how to send soldiers to wipe out entire villages to the applause of idiots who say, “People must be taught lessons about killing soldiers. Even in America you can’t kill a policeman and get away easily.” The morons want their passport respected not because their country respects the lives of Nigerians, but because a Nigerian is appointed to the WTO.

It’s not by shooting protesting civilians or granting amnesty to local terrorists that countries build strong passports. How much is a Nigerian life worth even within Nigeria?

When Israel’s deal with Ethiopia’s Mengitsu fell through over some error at the Knesset after only a few evacuations in exchange for arms, the Mossad set up an entire fake tourist community in the Sudan as cover to evacuate Ethiopian Jews. Israel opened an entire operation within the Mossad just to secretly bring to Israel young female Jews living in Syria. The excuse was that they couldn’t find Jewish husbands there and would want to immigrate to Israel, a journey the Syrian government prohibited.

Israeli stateswoman Golda Meier swore to annihilate every member of the Palestinian terror group Black September
implicated in the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and not a single official was left alive. From the 70s up until the late 90s, from Tripoli to Damascus, Paris to Rome, Norway to Morocco, Mossad agents roamed and killed them all in James Bond-esque fashions.

In fact, when the world woke up to the tragedy of the Mossad killing a Moroccan-Norwegian it mistook for Ali Hassan Salame, known popularly as The Red Prince—the most wanted member of Black September—people thought the Secret Service would stop its killings. But no. Instead, head of the hit squad, Mike Harrari only went underground for a few months until orders came from Jerusalem to resume the hunt. The Red Prince, then second only in the PLO to the revered Yasser Arafat and married to Georgina, the former Miss Syria, Miss Universe and “the Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” would be killed in a grand fashion on the streets of Damascus. Israel hunted Adolf Eichmann until they found him in Argentina, kidnapped and sent him to justice in Jerusalem. They hunted the Butcher of Austria until they found him in Argentina, tricked him to Uruguay and beat him to death in a safe house there.

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But here in Nigeria, after Boko Haram pulled Dapchi, a certain Aisha Wakali, self-named Mama Boko Haram was everywhere telling us how “al-Barnawi is my son,” and how she will convince him “to return the children,” as if kidnapping 300 kids is something as mundane as stealing bags of crayfish. We would later hear that £3million exchanged hands and Boko Haram split and either version became strong enough to run franchises that today are sometimes called bandits. If today Abubakar Shekau “repents,” the government will ask citizens to roll out the drums because “one of our misguided brothers has chosen the path of peace and it’s a good thing.” Meanwhile, Aisha Wakill is still doing her Mama Boko Haram job.

Nobody respects a passport carried by citizens whose country behaves like Nigeria, a country where citizens are murdered like chickens by anyone who so desires while the government seeks conciliatory ways on how to appease the murderers.

There was a shooting of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, but what burned in the hearts of many Nigerians wasn’t if lives were lost, but “how many people died that you people are calling it a massacre? It is not a massacre. Maybe just two or three people died.” A country whose citizens quantify death so as to measure how to apportion empathy can’t evoke useful respect for its passport.

When you are reading a book and you see how countries, even with the little they have, go all out to teach lessons to those who violate the lives of their citizens, you wonder if Nigeria wasn’t the hell religious books preach about.

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