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Smoking Can Kill: Boko Haram Makes Sure It Does

If you really want to quit smoking, the place to go right now is Nigeria!

The Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has come up with the definitive cure. According to a report by the International Business Times, it recently executed two people simply for smoking. That seems to be about the best deterrent anyone has come up with so far, even if it is a bit more brutal than nicotine patches or E-cigarettes.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker, Boko Haram killed over 6,000 people between April 2011 and July 2014, with other estimates as high as 10,000. It’s true that smoking wasn’t the main reason then, but there could be more instances in future as this group of fanatical Islamists seeks to impose its version of Islam on the Nigerian people.

Their very name translates into English as “Western education is forbidden,” and they now seem set on trying to outdo the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in sheer brutality. Mind you, they have way to go yet. Hopefully the world is not witnessing a contest between Islamic terror groups about which can be the most barbaric.

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This week, they seized a police academy nearby their stronghold in Gwoza as part of their campaign to set up an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria. An African analyst, Ryan Cummings, told AFP, “The capture and holding of territory presents a significant evolution in Boko Haram’s modus operandi.” The group is “slowly but surely out achieving its primary goal — the creation of a caliphate in northern-eastern Nigeria governed under sharia law.”

The wife of a soldier in the Nigerian army sent to fight the terrorists said, “I left Buni Yadi yesterday [Wednesday] because it was no longer safe for me and my family.” A trader from the region confirmed that “the gunmen shot dead two men for smoking and they also killed a known drug peddler.”

Smoking is considered by many Islamic scholars to be “haram,” or unlawful, because of prohibitions against harming oneself and wasting money.

With no connection to sharia law, Nigeria, like most developed countries, is putting in place legislation to control the sale, distribution, and marketing aspects of tobacco. Smoking is already banned in public places in many parts of Nigeria, but there is still a heated public debate about an unratified bill which would ban all tobacco advertising, smoking in public places, cigarette vending machines, sale of individual cigarettes, and packs containing fewer than 20 cigarettes, and the sale of tobacco products to minors.

One form of control is to impose higher taxes on cigarettes, but this also has a downside. In Nigeria, taxes account for nearly 40 percent of the retail price of a pack of cigarettes – similar to the rate in New York. This has enabled a large smuggling operation to develop, which, perversely, has generated funds for Islamic terrorist groups.

The Center for Public Integrity reported in the past that cigarette smuggling provided the bulk of revenue for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a terrorist group active in Algeria with known ties to Boko Haram. Hamas, al-Qaida, and Hezbollah are also known to generate millions in funding from tobacco smuggling operations.

Under those circumstances, it would appear that Boko Haram is shooting itself in the foot – figuratively speaking – by shooting its potential customers in the head!

But who ever said Islamic terrorists are logical?

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