Despite the urging of the FBI, CIA, and a bipartisan contingent of legislators knowledgeable on the matter, Hillary Clinton refused to designate Boko Haram as a terror group during her tenure, severely limiting the United States’ ability to combat the threat they pose to Nigeria.
According to an exclusive report by The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin, the Clinton State Department faced demands to place the group, now internationally reviled for the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria, to the State terror list. The State Department never did during her tenure; John Kerry designated the group a terrorist organization in November 2013. Yet Boko Haram has been active for twelve years and showed signs of both individual growth and the potential to expand al Qaeda’s influence in the region.
The rally by multiple State agencies and prominent legislators to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group began in 2011, after Boko Haram took responsibility for the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The attack, in August, followed at least nineteen others that year, as Boko Haram began to grow under Abubakar Shekau. Many have said that the 2009 death of Boko Haram’s original leader, Mohammed Yusuf, emboldened the group.
That year, House Representatives Patrick Meehan and Jackie Speier published a report on Boko Haram, intending to call to action American State and national security officials to focus on eradicating the group. Rep. Meehan told Rogin that fighting reluctance on the part of the State Department was frustrating, since “the sentiment that was expressed by the administration was this was a local grievance and therefore not a threat to the United States or its interests.” He added that Clinton’s agency said that “al Qaeda was on the run and our argument was contrary to that.”
By 2013, a group of Republican senators were ready to introduce legislation demanding answers for Clinton on Boko Haram. One senior official lamented to Rogin, “The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy.” The legislation never passed, but Clinton stepped down from her position, and Kerry finally placed Boko Haram on the foreign terror group list.
“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of these young girls, and we want to provide whatever assistance is possible in order to help for their safe return to their families,” Kerry said during his visit to Abuja last week, referring to the hundreds of girls kidnapped with the intent to be sold on the black market as slave brides.
While Kerry’s willingness to at least discuss and openly combat the Boko Haram threat is an improvement, many experts observing the handling of the mass abduction have criticized the United States’ work as insufficient. Emmanuel Ogebe, an attorney working for survivors of Boko Haram abductions in Nigeria, told Breitbart News this week that the initial help offered by the United States was “not enough.” He said, “Intelligence assistance to Nigeria is overstretched and understaffed covering multiple countries in Africa instead of Nigeria which is challenging enough just by itself.”
Since then, the United States has vowed to send a small group of military personnel and several civilian State Department and national security experts to Abuja to work with the Nigerian government on a plan to find the girls. The soldiers will arrive in Nigeria in the coming days to provide strategic help on how to surround Boko Haram and safely extract the girls from their possession.
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