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Nigerian Islamists threaten attack on telecom firms

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — A purported spokesman for Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists late Monday threatened the group would soon launch attacks on mobile telephone firms for their alleged complicity with security agents.

In a phone conference with reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a man who claimed to be Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa said the sect would “soon launch attacks” on mobile phone operators and state-run regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

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He accused them of complicity with security agents in bugging the phones of sect members to track them.

“We have realised that the mobile phone operators and the NCC have been assisting security agencies in tracking and arresting our members by bugging their lines and and enabling the security agents to locate the position of our members,” he said.

Boko Haram has previously used similar conferences with journalists in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, the group’s base, to make public statements.

“It was with the connivance with the mobile phone companies operating in Nigeria and the NCC that the security agents were able to locate Abu Dardaa and Kabiru Sokoto and arrest them,” Qaqa said in the local Hausa language.

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Nigeria has five major mobile phone operators with a total subscriber base of around 90 million.

South Africa-based MTN is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria. Other operators include the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat and Indian-owned Airtel.

Early this month, security sources said they had arrested Abul Qaqa, but the Islamists rejected that claim, saying another senior Boko Haram member, Abu Dardaa, was the one in custody.

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On Friday, Nigerian security agents re-arrested Kabiru Sokoto, a prominent sect member in a village in eastern Taraba state, four weeks after his escape from police custody in suspicious circumstances.

Sokoto is believed to be the mastermind of the Christmas day bombing of a church near Nigeria’s capital Abuja that killed at least 44 people.

Boko Haram’s deadliest attack yet occurred on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings killed at least 185 people in Nigeria’s second-largest city of Kano.

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The group also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that left at least 25 people dead.

It has in the past claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, but its demands have repeatedly shifted.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Mnuchin begs Chris Wallace: Take the president ‘very literally’ except on being ‘the chosen one’

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that Americans should take President Donald Trump's hyperbolic comments "very literally" -- but he allowed for some exceptions.

During an interview on FOX News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that Trump had recently "ordered" companies not to do business with China.

"When the president says something, how seriously, how literally should we take it?" Wallace asked.

"I think most of the time, you should take it very literally," Mnuchin insisted. "I think sometimes he says things that are meant to be a joke."

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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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