While the statement does specifically mention churches, her condemnation of “those in Nigeria who seek to inflame Christian-Muslim tensions,” is vague enough to cause concern. First of all, it is obvious to almost everyone but the State Department why the “tension” is there to begin with: Islamic supremacism such as that of Boko Haram and other radical Muslims who want a pure Islamic state. In that case, any action, statement, or mere existence of non-Muslims can inflame the tension – a lunar eclipse, a Miss World pageant, the election of a Christian president, a speech by the Pope… and usually it is the Nigerian Christians (or the Christians anywhere in the Islamic world) who are blamed for “inflaming” things.
Other popular targets of Boko Haram have been newspaper offices and television viewing centers. On April 25, Boko Haram was responsible for bombing a television viewing center in Jos, Plateau State, where hundreds of Christians were watching a soccer match. One person was killed and four were injured when the radicals drove by the site and threw an explosive device at the viewers. On December 10, 2011, Boko Haram bombed three television viewing centers in Jos. At one site, 31 year-old Joshua Dabo was killed in the explosion. Ten people were injured, with four in critical condition and two in left in a coma, at the two other viewing centers. Apparently, watching soccer also inflames Christian-Muslim tensions.
The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has been asking the United States for help in dealing with Boko Haram and other terrorists, but so far the U.S. State Department has talked of providing financial aid to impoverished and marginalized youth, like Boko Haram. In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson said, “The Nigerian government must effectively engage communities vulnerable to extremist violence by addressing the underlying political and socio-economic problems in the North.” In what is absolute dismissal of the life-and-death struggles that Nigerian authorities have had with Boko Haram, he added, “The government must also promote respect for human rights by its security forces, whose heavy-handed tactics and extrajudicial killings reinforce the belief that Abuja is insensitive to the concerns of the North.” Then he added helpfully, “The appointment of credible northerners to lead the government response to northern grievances would be an important and tangible step toward reversing that perception.” Well, since the State Department appears to see Boko Haram as “credible northerners,” perhaps it will suggest their appointment. That would follow the pattern the Obama Administration has helped to set through Arab “Spring.”
On May 1, 2012, a Reuters news report indicated that the Nigerian government has not decided to follow the State Department’s advice. Forces raided the hideout of Boko Haram in Kano (the location the State Department is considering for a second U.S. Embassy), and after a gunfight that lasted several hours, killed “the mastermind” of the attack on the Christian worshippers the weekend before. According to Police Commissioner for Kano State Ibrahim Idris, AK-47 assault rifles, 467 munitions and 45 cans full of explosives were seized in the raid. And Kano army commander Brigadier General Ilyasu Abba, part of the Joint Task Force that conducted the raid, explained that although the terrorists of Boko Haram can identify the Nigerian security forces, the security forces cannot identify them. He said that two of the suspects had “escaped through the back door.”
While the Obama Administration continues to deny that Boko Haram are terrorists, more evidence has surfaced to prove their affiliation as such. An April 30, 2012 report from Nigerian newspaper, This Day Live, reveals that documents linking Boko Haram directly to Osama bin Laden were found in the dead terrorist’s house in Pakistan. The documents confirm what a top Boko Haram figure had declared openly to The Guardian in January. “A Boko Haram spokesman had boasted after the attacks on Police Headquarters in Abuja last year that the group had just trained a generation of suicide bombers in Somalia in what was seen then as a direct link to al-Shaabab, a Somali terrorist group aligned to al-Qaeda,” according to the report. They added that “Boko Haram is also believed to be working with Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), based in Algeria.”
All the evidence coming out about Boko Haram only confirms and clarifies what the terrorist group has said about itself. It is “fighting to reinstate a 19th century Islamic caliphate.” As such, it wants to remove the Christian presence from the north of Nigeria and ultimately, from the entire country. U.S. Representatives Peter King and Patrick Meehan have warned that Boko Haram is a tremendous threat not only to the Christians and other good citizens of Nigeria, but “its tactics, targeting, and fundraising operations appear to be increasingly international in scope, including within the U.S. Homeland.” This threat should be taken seriously.
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