Baltimore Sun Leaves Terrorism out of Nigerian Oil Violence

     One country’s terrorist menace is one Baltimore Sun reporter’s insurgency.

     In his December 18 article, “Paying the price for resistance,” Sun foreign reporter Scott Calvert gave readers a snapshot of a “violent insurgency that has forced a 20 percent to 25 percent cut” in Nigerian oil exports.

    Yet even as he quoted an e-mail warning “to all oil companies in the delta” that “your nightmare has not even begun,” Calvert left out any reference to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) as a terrorist organization in his more than 2,600-word article.

     “I don't like Shell,” Calvert quoted one sympathizer, referring to the Dutch oil company. “They cause so much problems. We have youths who don't have work to do. Sometimes they get up and say, ‘Look at these people taking oil; let's go and meet them,’” said 37-year-old Mosco Johnny.

     Calvert left out any defense of Shell Oil from either the company or from an industry expert, although he did quote veteran oil contractor John Anderson, who insisted “the military government seemed to keep a tighter rein on the problem” than the current civilian government does.

     Even so, Calvert added that the British-born Anderson can “understand their plight, with all the poverty.”

     While Calvert did inform readers that MEND has a rich history of violence, car bombings, and hostage-takings, not once in his article did he describe the group as a terrorist organization.

    According to the online Terrorism Knowledge Base Web site (TKB), which aggregates counterterrorism data from sources including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and private security analysis firm the RAND Corporation, MEND is one of the largest terror groups operating in the Niger Delta region and has as its “ultimate goal” “to expel foreign oil companies and Nigerians not indigenous to the Delta region.”

    In the short run, TKB notes that the group specializes in armed extortion.