ABC News Exclusive: Online Interview With a Terrorist

The following are excerpts from an e-mail interview conducted by Brian Ross with a person who calls himself Jomo and the leader of MEND. While it is impossible to verify with absolute certainty that the author of the e-mails is in fact who he claims to be, messages from the same e-mail address accurately informed ABC News and other organizations of impending MEND attacks in Nigeria and provided photos of hostages the author says are in his group's custody.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

Are you the leader or commander of MEND? What is your background?

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto:yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

I am the leader of Mend and all militias in the niger delta. No authority supersedes mine.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

Let me start by asking you to describe the goals of your organization, its size and its current activities.

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto: yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

The movement for the emancipation of the niger delta (MEND) is an amalgam of all arm bearing groups in the niger delta fighting for the control of oil revenue by indegenes of the niger delta who have had relatively no benefits from the exploitation of our mineral resources by the nigerian government and oil companies over the last fifty years.

We are spread across the 6 states of the niger delta and have in our ranks approximately five thousand fighters, two thousand of whom are presently active. Our camps are regularly overwhelmed by volunteers who we have to turn back for now as there is presently no need to increase our fighter strenght.

Our aim on inception was to attract international attention to the plight of the people of the delta and the injustice the world has been turning a blind eye to. That obviously had no effect on the nigerian government and oil companies so we have progressed to the next stage of our campaign which is limited attacks on oil installations and administrative facilities. This also appears to be doing little good and we are now considering the next phase which will be a more ruthless approach to our objective.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

What do you mean when you say you are considering a "more ruthless approach"?

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto: yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

We have sent out numerous warnings to oil companies and everyone who cares to listen. We want the oil companies to leave the niger delta now. We have been careful when setting off car bombs to avoid civilian casualties.

When our fighters attack creek based installations, they have also been careful to avoid what americans call collateral damage.

We have a growing radical majority in our ranks who are of the opinion that our soft methods are not working. They appear to be correct because the nigerian government and oil companies are still not taking us seriously. We have the capacity to be as ruthless and as callous as attacks witnessed in iraq. We are capable of setting off as many car bombs as we wish and pack them full of shrapnel to maximize casuality. Our fighters can set rigs on fire with all the occupants onboard. This is a final option which we are toying with.

The world must act now or we will be forced to go down this road from which there will be no return.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

Given that statement, is it fair to call your group a terrorist organization?

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto: yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It depends on who is looking at us. To the oppressed impoverished people of the niger delta, we are angels. If we are terrorists to the oil companies and the nigerian government, so be it.

Our intention is to chase out the oil companies from the niger delta and if it takes terror to achieve this objective, we will very well employ that option.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

At this time, how many hostages do you hold?

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto: yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

We have four hostages but were working on getting more. Why do we take hostages and why do we need more? The nigerian government pretends to be operating a democracy while what we have in reality is an autocratic despot lording over hapless nigerians.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

What is the current status of the four hostages you are holding? Are there photos of them to prove they are alive? Are their Lives at risk?

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto:yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

They are well. We will allow doctors from medicins sans frontier to visit them soon for a check up. They are alive and we sent out pictures to prove we were holding them and they are well. They are presently being watched by guards under instruction to shoot them if any attempt is made to release them without proper authorization. It is unusual for us to execute prisoners in our custody. It has never happened in fact. They will eventually be released when our conditions have been met.

"Ross, Brian E" wrote:

Given the importance of Nigerian oil to the United States, don't you think the US military or intelligence agents will make attempts to stop your group? Some have suggested that MEND even has ties to al Queida.

From: Jomo Gbomo [mailto:yahoo.com]

Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

To: Ross, Brian E

Subject: RE: Good afternoon from Brian Ross at ABC News

We understand and are very well prepared for this eventuality. The blacks of the united states had to fight for their freedom as did the blacks of south africa in spite of the odds stacked against them. We are fighting a just cause and are prepared to fight against the us army if we have to.

Al queida is now an excuse for us involvement all over the world. That and george bush's war on terror. The niger delta is in the south of nigeria and we are dominantly christian. Any muslim from the delta is a convert to islam and i assure you they will be in the early hundreds at the most. How can we then be aligned with a radical islamic group so far away from us?

What we are fighting for needs no explanation. It is there for all to see and i am willing to bet that the us army will mutiny when they see the living conditions of the people of the niger delta. How can you explain a situation where we account for all nigerias wealth and we live without electricity in shacks made of cardboard and straw? How can you explain my people drinking from salty creeks in which they bath and defecate?