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Boko Haram: Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Written by Dr. Steven J. Allen

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[Continuing  series from the Capital Research Center on deception in politics and policy.]
Logo of Boko Haram
Last week we took a look at the Obama administration’s deception campaign about Benghazi and Al Qaeda.

A key part of that con involves Boko Haram, the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group that kidnapped some 276 schoolgirls on April 14-15.

We are supposed to believe that the Obama administration and its political allies care about the girls, even though they seemed to have not a single iota of interest in Boko Haram and its terror campaign until three weeks after the kidnapping.

For day after day after day, the Left and its news media allies ignored the story. Why?

Given the opportunity to designate BH as a terrorist organization, the Obama administration and secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose not to do so. No reason for this inaction has been stated, but, as the terrorist designation was being considered, opponents presented variants on all the usual reasons that are given for not calling terrorists terrorists.

See, below, the text of a petition, hosted on the left-wing MoveOn.org, that called on the U.S. not to designate Boko Haram. The petition was created by William Minter of AfricaFocus Bulletin, a leftist publication that monitors Africa and is loosely affiliated with a wide range of related organizations, including Africa Action, AfricaFiles, AfricaFocus, AllAfrica, Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, Human Rights Watch, IRIN News, and Pambazuka News.

It provides us all with a look into the thinking of people on the Obama/Clinton Left.

(I include it in full, rather than linking to it, because it’s been removed from the site. MoveOn.org now claims that it’s not fair to hold the group responsible for this petition which was posted on their site.)

Reject “Terrorist” Designation for Boko Haram

Petition by AfricaFocus Bulletin (William Minter)

To be delivered to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Eric Holder, Attorney General, Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-33), Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-2), Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4) and 6 other targets (click here to see more)

Petition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama and Members of Congress

We urge you not to support the formal designation of Boko Haram in Nigeria as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO). Such a move would be a counterproductive mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for both Americans and Nigerians.

It is correct for the United States to join the vast majority of Nigerians in condemning the group for the brutal violence it has inflicted on innocent civilians in Nigeria and their threats to national unity and security in that country.

But U.S. government designation of the group as a FTO, as currently proposed by several Members of Congress and some officials in the the [sic] Department of Justice, would increase rather than diminish the threat from Boko Haram. It would give the group additional visibility and credibility among international terrorist networks. It would increase the chances that the group would direct its attacks against U.S. targets.

Most significantly, it would reinforce militarization of Nigerian government actions against the group. Repressive actions by Nigerian security forces in the past have already contributed to increasing support for Boko Haram among those affected. What is needed instead is a multifaceted strategy. Such a strategy must include not only security measures to protect civilians but also flexible diplomacy and serious attention to development issues, particularly in the disadvantaged North of Nigeria where Boko Haram finds support.

FTO designation would also cause enormous collateral damage, making it difficult for both the U.S. government and non-profit groups to address humanitarian and development issues, particularly in the North. It would hamper any efforts by third parties to encourage dialogue and it would introduce new tensions into U.S.-Nigerian relations. It would also pose serious bureaucratic obstacles to travel and family remittances for Nigerian Americans and other Nigerians resident in the United States.

The Nigerian government is well aware of the counterproductive effects of a FTO designation for Boko Haram and has expressed its opposition. So have more than 20 of the top U.S. scholars on Nigeria. We urge you to heed their informed advice.

To endorse this petition as an organization, please send the name of your organization and contact details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, visit http://www.africafocus.org/docs12/mil1206.php#bh

Today, the people who covered up Benghazi to win an election are trying to make you think they care about the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Everyone from First Lady Michelle Obama to Sean Penn is having their pictures sent out over the Internet demanding “Bring back our girls” or pointing out that “Real men don’t buy girls.” (How ridiculous do they look? See http://www.looktothestars.org/photo/4625-sean-penn-real-men/story_wide.jpg)

Well, at least they eventually came to care about Boko Haram.

Some of us who have been trying to raise the alarm for years, without much interest from the establishment.

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, was one of the few who cared. I was asked by Speaker Gingrich’s campaign to write a memo on Boko Haram in the wake of its Christmas 2011 attacks, and here’s some of what I wrote:

The attacks began around 7:30 a.m. as worshippers left a service at St. Theresa’s, a Catholic church in Madalia, a suburb of the capital city of Abuja. A man on a motorbike dropped a bag, containing a bomb, just outside the church, and the bomb exploded as a church official was checking out the bag. Between 27 and 50 people were reportedly killed in the attack.

A few hours later, in the central city of Jos, a melting-pot area that is at the front lines of sectarian violence, police interrupted three men on a motorbike as they attempted to bomb another church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church. A policeman was shot and killed. (Last year, 32 people were reported killed in a Christmas Eve bombing in Jos.)

Another bombing occurred at a church in Gadaka in the northern state of Yobe. Eyewitnesses reportedly claimed that there were many casualties.

There were reportedly five attacks in all, including the three attacks on Christian churches.

The total death toll for the attacks was reported variously as “at least 69” and “more than 100.”

Pope Benedict said that news of the bombings in Nigeria had brought him “profound sadness” and he wanted to assure Nigeria’s Christian community, hit by “this absurd gesture,” that he was close to them. “At this moment, I want to repeat once more forcefully: violence is a path that leads only to pain, destruction and death. Respect, reconciliation and love are the only ways to achieve peace,” he said.

BACKGROUND: Nigeria, with a population of almost 160 million, is split, roughly equally, between Islam and Christianity as the main religions. Most Muslims live in the north, and most Christians live in the south.

Boko Haram – an Islamist terrorist group whose name means “Western education (or non-Islamic education) is a sin (or sacrilege)” – has conducted most of its attacks in the northern states, which are under sharia law, but the group has begun moving southward.

According to the International Business Times, “the Christmas attack, which was preceded by a similar attack last Christmas, is a departure from Boko Haram’s traditional government targets, as well as a sign that the sect is serious in its quest to make Nigeria a Muslim nation.”

The White House condemned the latest attacks as “senseless violence,” but, in fact, the attacks seem clearly designed to provoke war between Muslims and Christians.

“The fact that Christian facilities were bombed was intended primarily to provoke Christians into attacking Muslims,” according to Nigeria’s Interior Minister, Abba Moro. On Tuesday, the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella group representing Catholics, Protestants, and Pentecostals, said its members fear that the bombings could lead to religious war.

Although Boko Haram has involved in terrorist attacks since 2002, it has been described in the past as a “slapdash operation.” But is now reportedly working with AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [north Africa west of Egypt]), and with al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-backed group in Somalia.

A Boko Haram spokesman has confirmed that the group is cooperating with al-Qaeda, and a suspect in the Boko Haram bombing of a U.N. building last August in Abuja reportedly trained with members of Somalia’s al-Qaeda affiliate.

U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan (R-Pennsylvania) has expressed concern that Boko Haram might be planning attacks against the U.S. (Umar Abdul Mutallab, the Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber,” was from Lagos, Nigeria, but responsibility for aiding Mutallab was claimed by AQAP [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula].)

In May 2012, Representative Meehan introduced a bill to direct the secretary of state to report to Congress on whether the group met the criteria for designation.

Last September, the conservative Vernuccio-Allison Report raised the alarm:

A non-governmental threat comes from the terrorist group known widely as the Boko Haram. Linked to al Qaeda, this organization, active in Nigeria, has over the past three years committed repeated acts of murder, including mass massacres and the killing of school children, kidnapping, attacks on churches, and bombings. The ‘Human Rights Watch’ group is concerned about their crimes against humanity. The organization has threatened to hit western targets. The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Counterterrorism has requested that President Obama pay attention to them. General Ham, in charge of American forces in the region, is also deeply concerned.

Amber Groves, a student at Hamilton College in New York, wrote about the group in a paper:

Nigeria , in particular, has suffered with religious terrorist groups fueled by conflict in the Middle East. The rise of Boko Haram, an Islamic militant organization whose name literally means “western education is sinful,” has caused hundreds of deaths and destroyed Nigeria’s education system and state infrastructure. While the group was originally founded in Nigeria in the 1990s, it did not become a serious threat until 2006 when anti-western groups in the Middle East began donating resources to the organization. Since 2006, Boko Haram has burned hundreds of schools and effectively crippled Nigeria’s already weak education system. The lack of state education has led to public anger and frustration with the government for being unable to eradicate the organization. Nigeria, which is already highly unlikely to consolidate, must now address the rise of Boko Haram and religious extremism as another factor preventing democratic development. With terrorism causing widespread civil uproar and a lack of education, Nigeria as well as several of its neighbors has become even farther removed from democratic success. African democracies will continue to fail if they cannot address religious turmoil and prevent terrorist groups from spreading anti-western ideology that decreases democratic legitimacy.

Columnist Mark Steyn put the Christmas 2011 attacks in the context of the “Arab Spring” war against Christians on National Review:

On this Christmas Eve, one of the great unreported stories throughout what we used to call Christendom is the persecution of Christians around the world. In Egypt, the ‘Arab Spring’ is going so swimmingly that Copts are already fleeing Egypt and, for those Christians that remain, Midnight Mass has to be held in the daylight for security reasons. In Iraq, midnight services have been canceled entirely for fear of bloodshed, part of the remorseless de-Christianizing that has been going on, quite shamefully, under an American imperium. Not merely the media but Christian leaders in the west seem to be embarrassed by behavior that doesn’t conform to their dimwitted sappiness about ‘Facebook Revolutions’. It took a Jew to deliver this line:

When Lord Sacks, chief rabbi in England, rose in the House of Lords to speak about the persecution of Christians, he quoted Martin Luther King. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

While the Obama/Clinton people slept, a lot of serious people were trying to raise alarms about Boko Haram, and were ignored. Yet here’s how, on May 9, Chris Matthews and his colleagues on the left-wing network MSNBC ridiculed Republicans on this issue: “By the way, when did the Republican Party take this keen interest in Africa? I may have missed that one.”

More from the Matthews program, as transcribed by Newsbusters:

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: …The women’s issue is one very important part of the equation. The other not-so-sub sub-text here is religion. It’s faith. These are – there was an attack in a Catholic Church in Nigeria where Boko Haram killed people.

MATTHEWS: Because they’re Catholics-

FINEMAN: Because they’re Catholics. And what the connective tissue here is – for the people attacking Hillary [Clinton] and Barack Obama – is that, somehow, they’re soft on Islamists. They don’t say it in quite those words, but that’s what they’re-

MATTHEWS: Because Obama is a Muslim-

FINEMAN: There you go; there you go – that is the subject-

BERNARD: Just for anyone who doesn’t really understand that you’re making a joke-

FINEMAN: If anybody who doesn’t get it-

BERNARD: We should say that he really is not a Muslim. (laughs) People who normally watch Fox might be watching us-

MATTHEWS: I’m translating – I’m translating for the clowns in the clown car-

FINEMAN: You and I know exactly how they’re connecting the dots. That’s what this is really about. This is as much about religion as it is about gender, and that’s the connection between Hillary and Barack Obama – that they’re somehow squishy on this thing.

Glenn Kessler, the Clintonist “Fact Checker” at the Washington Post, summed up the excuses for the Obama/Clinton failure:

Yes, Hillary Clinton was secretary of state in 2012. Designations of foreign terrorist groups are ultimately issued by the secretary of state. But the decision on how to handle the group was resolved before it ever reached her level, according to officials familiar with the deliberations. . . .

[After the Nigerian government opposed the terrorist designation,] The Nigerian concern was echoed by academic experts on Nigeria, who signed a joint letter to the State Department arguing against a premature designation. . . .

Hindsight is always 20/20. In retrospect, perhaps the State Department could have moved quicker with a designation, as Jackson conceded to Congress. But at the time the officials involved in the discussions believed they had come up with an acceptable compromise that would not upset the Nigerian government and would have helped improve the behavior of the Nigerian military.

Given the facts at hand, it was not an unreasonable solution — and the process by which the decision was made was fair-minded and thorough.

But perhaps the most bizarre example of progressive thought on Boko Haram came courtesy of Andrea Mitchell, an NBC News correspondent and strong supporter of Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Free Beacon:

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell openly wondered whether male officials in the United States were slow to respond to the kidnappings in Nigeria because it involved school girls Wednesday afternoon [May 14].

“It really calls into question whether the men in charge of our government frankly would have been responding more quickly despite Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria’s opposition, whether they would have been responding more rapidly if it had been schoolgirls, if it hadn’t been some other premise,” Mitchell said.

A surprised Sen. Diane Feinstein (D., Calif.) replied “you mean if it had involved school boys? No – ”

Oh really, Andrea? They would have responded more quickly, but for sexism? You mean like when they set schoolboys on fire?

As Noah Rothman wrote at Mediaite:

On February 25, between 40 and 59 children were killed by [Boko Haram]. Early that morning, Boko Haram terrorists attacked a boarding school and shot many of children, aged 11 to 18, while they slept. Some of the students were gunned down as they attempted to flee. Others had their throats slit. In some buildings, Boko Haram militants locked the doors and set the building alight. The occupants were burned alive.

All of the victims were boys. Reports indicated that the young girls the militants encountered were spared. According to the BBC, the militants told the girls to flee, get married, and shun the western education to which they were privy.

Beyond wire reports and a handful of segments on globally-focused outlets like NPR, this atrocity went unremarked upon in the popular news media.

February 25 was not Boko Haram’s first atrocity. By March, more than 1,000 people had been killed in the country’s northeast since the first of the year. Prior to Boko Haram’s shift in tactics, from wholesale slaughter of young men to the kidnapping of young women, the group traveled from village to village where they killed children and razed buildings with near impunity.

Clinton, the Obamas, and their clownish allies like Kessler, Matthews, and Mitchell are the face that the United States presents to the terrorists. They’re savage when they attack the President’s critics. But when it comes to standing up to terrorism, they’re the kind of people who bring a tweet to a machete fight.

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