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Nigerian sect leader dies in custody -

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Nigerian sect leader dies in custody

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Friday, July 31, 2009 12:34:00

PETER CAVE: The authorities in Nigeria have killed the leader of the radical Islamist sect blamed
for days of violence in the country's north which has left hundreds of people dead.

Mohammed Yusuf's group Boko Haram is opposed to Western-style education and wants to see a stricter
implementation of Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria.

Images of his bullet-riddled body were broadcast on Nigerian state television, not long after the
police announced he had been captured.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Brutal fighting in northern Nigeria has killed more than 600 people since
Sunday when the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram launched a series of attacks.

The military responded with a full scale assault on the sect's headquarters in the town of
Maiduguri but though the heavy gun battles and shelling left parts of the town in ruins, the sect's
leader Mohammed Yusuf managed to escape.

He wasn't at large for long though. Police raided the home of his wife's parents and found the
radical leader hiding in a pit.

This was the account given on Nigerian TV by a police spokesman John Hamza Ahmadu.

JOHN HAMZA AHMADU: At about five o'clock an informant passed information about the location of
Mohammed Yusuf. The information was followed up however according to police at that area, there was
a shootout and because of the shootout one Mohammed Yusuf (inaudible) people around the area
identified to be the man wanted who had been killed in the shootout.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But the BBC's Ahmad Idriess says journalists were initially told that Mohammed
Yusuf had been captured.

AHMAD IDRIESS: A few hours later the media had been asked to go to the Government House for a
briefing on the development then all of a sudden things started dragging longer and longer and
longer.

Then finally a video was brought to the Government House and shown to the Governor and other top
government officials present there including journalists, including the BBC's reporter there,
showing Mr Yusuf captured.

And he confessed to his crime saying that actually he is regretting his actions and the pain caused
the general public.

Then the next moment on the video footage he was shown shot.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Ahmad Idriess says he believes Mohammed Yusuf was executed by the Nigerian
authorities and that he had not tried to resist or escape.

It seems the Nigerian authorities had underestimated the number of people following Mohammed Yusuf.

Here he is, speaking a few days ago, explaining why he believed Western-style education is a sin.

MOHAMMED YUSUF (translated): There are things that we'd investigated and found that they contrary
to our belief in one God.

We are not the first people to voice this. There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and
understood that the present Western-style of education is mixed with issues that run contrary to
our belief in Islam.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: His Boko Haram sect is loosely modelled on the Taliban and the members want to
want to see the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria.

But the sect was only considered to be a small, fringe group until Sunday when it began a series of
attacks against police stations and government buildings across northern Nigeria.

The Nigerian Islamic scholar Hussain Zakaria says Mohammed Yusuf's followers will now regard him as
a martyr and that the sect will go on

HUSSAIN ZAKARIA: I think two or more of his lieutenants also perished along with him. That is why I
have my apprehension about the news of the death is that it might not be the end of this sect. They
might change their tactics to kidnappings and maybe to selective murdering of some important
personalities.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Hussain Zakaria says the Nigerian security forces must re-evaluate their
operations, warning it is only a matter of time before a new leader emerges to replace Mohammed
Yusuf.

PETER CAVE: Meredith Griffiths reporting.