Two U.S. Congressmen are being commended by the Institute on Religion and Democracy after they urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to designate the violent Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.
U.S. Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) cite Boko Haram as responsible for mass murder of Nigeria’s Christians. Boko Haram has declared that it will cleanse the region of Christians and establish an Islamic State.
King, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Meehan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, said in a March 30 letter to Clinton that Boko Haram’s “evolution in targeting and tactics closely emulate that of other al Qaeda affiliates that have targeted the U.S. Homeland.” They also reminded Clinton that the group has killed more than 900 people in the past two years. Meehan and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) released a report on Boko Haram in conjunction with a November hearing warning: “Do not underestimate Boko Haram’s intent and capability to attack the U.S. Homeland.”
In contrast, at a March Senate hearing, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson referred to Boko Haram as “a loosely-organized group” that was “focused primarily on local Nigerian issues and actors.” Carson left the targeting of Christians unmentioned, saying it was “important to note that religion is not the primary driver behind extremist violence in Nigeria.” The State Department official said that the Obama Administration “hopes to focus on education and social programs in the North” rather than invest in security for persecuted Christians.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
- “The congressmen realistically assess the actions of Boko Haram, its connections with other terrorist groups, and its intentions to Islamize Nigeria, as a very serious threat both to U.S. security and to the citizens of Nigeria.
- “Carson and the State Department continue to downplay Boko Haram’s Islamist nature, preferring to see the terrorist murderers — of whom even the Nigerian police are afraid — as victims of poverty and marginalization. Once again, State Department moral equivalency turns the world upside down.
- “Nigerian churches verify what the congressmen report. Boko Haram has been relentless in its attacks against Christians and their places of worship. One Anglican diocese in northern Nigeria has lost almost 100 percent of its members to the killings and migration of survivors to the south.”