A wide range of heads of state and global leaders from the United States, Europe, and Africa agreed to a “global and regional action plan” to eradicate the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram in a summit Saturday. The group met in Paris, where French President Francois Hollande announced a plan to share intelligence and increase sanctions.
Leaders from Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin, as well as Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, met in Paris with Hollande and leaders of the United Kingdom and United States. The meeting was not only called in response to the mass abduction of more than 200 northern Nigerian schoolgirls, who the terror group have vowed to convert to Islam and sell as wives but recently also offered to free in exchange for the government liberating convicted terrorists. Boko Haram has also been increasingly active in terror attacks. Late Friday night, Boko Haram attacked a Chinese firm in Cameroon, reestablishing fears that the group long ago crossed Nigerian borders.
“Boko Haram is no longer a local terrorist group, it is operating clearly as an al Qaeda operation, it is an al Qaeda of West Africa,” President Jonathan said at a news conference following the attack. Emphasizing the “commitment for a regional approach” that had surfaced from the meeting, Jonathan noted that Boko Haram was not operating in isolation and had networked with a number of other terror groups in the region, magnifying its influence.
His sentiments were echoed by the other leaders in attendance. “We are here to declare war on Boko Haram,” said president Paul Biya of Cameroon, while Chad’s Idriss Deby called it “total war.” U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman noted that, specifically, the group would seek to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group at the United Nations. That designation, according to the Wall Street Journal, could arrive as early as next week and would issue a number of sanctions and travel restrictions on affiliates or members of the group.
The United States Department of Defense declared Boko Haram a “top priority” this week. Top defense official Alice Friend noted that the United States was taking extra care in handling the Boko Haram problem because the Nigerian military may not have sufficient resources to work on fighting the group alone, and, “in general, Nigeria has failed to mount an effective campaign against Boko Haram.” Currently, the United States has deployed manned planes over Nigeria to help scout out the location of the missing schoolgirls of Chibok, Nigeria, abducted in the challenging terrain of northeastern Nigeria and taken to unknown whereabouts.