The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad is quite a mouthful. That is the formal nomenclature for the organization better known widely by its Hausa name, Boko Haram, which translates to Western education is sinful. The group is an Islamic jihadist and takfiri militant and terrorist movement based in the northeast of Nigeria, north Cameroon, and Niger. A central tenet of the organization is to establish a “pure” Islamic state rules by sharia law.
Boko Haram has a history of attacking Christians and government targets, bombing churches, attacking schools and police stations, and kidnapping Western tourists. Recently, the group captured global headlines due to having claimed credit for kidnapping more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, says the girls, kidnapped from their boarding school three weeks ago, will be sold. Unconfirmed reports indicate some of the girls have been sold into slavery for the sum of $12 each. A number of the girls have also been forced to marry their abductors.
The young girls, aged 15-18, were studying for exams when they were taken from their dormitories in the town of Chibok, in Borno state. The kidnapping resulted in 276 girls still being held captive, while 53 girls escaped.
Earlier this week, the group validated its thread to kidnap more Christian girls they attacked a Nigerian village and took 8 more girls; this time ages 12-15. The most recent abductions followed closely a video in which Abubakar Shekau threatened to take even more Christian girls, force them to convert to Islam, and sell them into slavery. This latest raid pushed the total number of kidnapped girls to more than 300.
In the video, Shekau exclaimed:
“I abducted your girls. By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.”
President Obama, in an ABC interview yesterday, called the abductions “heartbreaking and outrageous.” Also yesterday, the White House reported Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who welcomed the offer of American support. The
United States has said it is prepared to send a team of military and law enforcement personnel to assist in the search for kidnap victims. While President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s words and actions signal the U.S. moving toward involvement in this calamity, it remains an atrocity that has commanded attention globally, and one that should incite a worldwide response.
In Nigeria, there has been a furor over the level of activity the government has initiated in response to the abductions. The President responded by insisting that the government has been active involved in trying to resolve the kidnappings, but is not broadcasting it. In an unflattering comparison to the U.S, he noted:
“We’ve done a lot – but we are not talking about it. We’re not Americans. We’re not showing people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something.”
While I think that’s an interesting approach to take when discussing an ally whose support you hope to enlist, in the realm of the obvious, he is President of Nigeria, not the U.S., so that retort likely has currency in his country, and ultimately, that’s most of what matters. On the other hand, I can hear the howls of the “Exceptional America” contingent. It would not be surprising to see some of them, who typically favor military intervention whenever possible, to suggest the U.S. dial back it’s efforts in this Nigerian debacle.
Despite any heartburn that might ensue, based on President Jonathan’s remarks, these heinous actions demand a response from countries of goodwill around the world. That alone should be enough to engage the United States of America, beacon of freedom, worldwide. That is who we believe we are. Is it not?
“Boko Haram: Terror Personified” – let’s see what we can do to resolve this atrocity. I’m done; holla back!
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