- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Kidnappings, raid from Nigeria terror group Boko Haram draw U.S., British attention
Question of the Day
British authorities announced Thursday they will send some special forces to aid in the search for nearly 300 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, where a team of U.S. military, law enforcement and diplomatic advisers has been dispatched to help the government in the effort.
Meanwhile, residents of a Nigerian town criticized security forces for failing to protect them Monday during a raid by Islamist extremists in which about 100 civilians were slain.
The kidnappings and raid, along with other atrocities in recent weeks such as the slaughter of about 40 schoolboys, has focused international attention on Boko Haram — the shadowy extremist group that has fought for years to establish an Islamist-run area in northern Nigeria.
The group’s name means “Western education is sin” in Nigeria’s Hausa language.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau shocked the world Monday by threatening to sell the 273 teenage schoolgirls into marriages or as sex slaves.
“I abducted your girls,” Abubakar Shekau said in a videotaped message. “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.”
The brazen abductions marked new tactics for Boko Haram, which has been the focus of international law enforcement efforts for years.
A team of FBI agents was dispatched to Nigeria in 2011 after Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed 21 people and wounded more than 70 others at the U.N. headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
Before then, the group had been known for carrying out only locally focused terrorist acts. The 2011 bombing elevated Boko Haram’s presence on the radar of U.S. intelligence officials tracking the proliferation in Africa of al Qaeda-style terrorism.
Three months after the U.N. attack, a congressional report said the incident had “marked a significant shift in the targeting and goals of the group, largely unknown to the U.S. intelligence community, and capped off an evolution in the capabilities of Boko Haram, beginning in the mid-2000s, from attacks with poisoned arrows and machetes to sophisticated car bombings.”
The report, “Boko Haram: Emerging Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” highlighted claims by U.S. military officials that members of the group were being trained by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — a North Africa network often touted by intelligence officials as among the most threatening of several affiliates tied to al Qaeda’s original core in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
Such claims appeared justified in January 2012, when Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a coordinated suicide car bombings against police stations and for killing 185 people in the city of Kano.
U.S. officials have told The Washington Times that, by mid-2012, a debate was raging behind the scenes at the State Department about how to publicly define the Boko Haram threat and how Washington should respond to the mounting violence in Africa’s top oil-producing nation.
Several analysts and officials speaking anonymously with The Times said there was resistance at the time to adding Boko Haram to Washington’s official terrorist organizations lists out of concern that doing so would bolster the group’s stature on the world stage and enhance its ability to recruit members.
In June 2012, the State Department moved to designate three Boko Haram leaders as “global terrorists” with “close links” to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
- Israel's ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- U.S. intelligence nearly certain pro-Russian separatists downed Malaysian Airlines flight
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- MH17: Fear of ground-to-air missile strike becomes nightmare reality in Ukraine
- U.S., China to participate in unprecedented joint ground force exercise
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors