News / USA

US Congress Panel Probes Threat from Nigerian Islamist Sect Boko Haram

Security officials on patrol in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno (file photo).
Security officials on patrol in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno (file photo).
Cindy Saine

A congressional panel has held a hearing on the threat to the U.S. homeland from the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, based in northern Nigeria.  Boko Haram has attracted more scrutiny after bombing the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerina capital Abuja, killing more than 20 people on August 26, 2011.  

One of the Africa experts that testified at the House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on the threat from the radical Islamist group to the United States is Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council of the United States.  He told the panel that the name "Boko Haram" is made up of Hausa and Arabic words and translates roughly as "Western eductation is a sin."

"Thus Boko Haram is not only a name, but a slogan, to the effect that Western education and such products that arise from it are sacrilege," said Pham.

The Boko Haram  militants say they are fighting for the creation of a Sharia-led nation in the north of Nigeria, and they do not recognize the authority of Nigeria's constitution or President Goodluck Jonathan.  

Ricardo Laremont is a Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University in the state of New York.  He explained the group's traditional operating methods.

"And since 2009, Boko Haram has attacked police officers and army officers and politicians and clerics, but primarily in northeastern Nigeria," said Laremont. "And they have been doing so by using assailants who used mopeds in drive-by attacks and they have used hand-guns, rifles and small explosives."

The House Homeland Security subcommittee's chairman, Republican Representative Patrick Meehan called the hearing to ask several Africa experts if they believed that Boko Haram may have widened its goals to include western targets, and possibly even the United States.   

Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council said two suicide bombings this year have taken the threat posed by the group to a new level.

"Certainly the suicide bombings targeting symbols of Nigerian state authority and the international community represent a major advance in Boko Haram's capabilities and a significant shift in its messaging," he said.

But the experts seemd to agree that for now, the group as a whole does not pose a plausible  threat to the United States.  Lauren Ploch of the Congressional Research Service said some individual members of Boko Haram may have made statements against the United States, but added:

"I don't see currently from reporting that the larger Boko Haram following intends to target the United States or U.S. interests," said Ploch.

The experts at the hearing called on the United States to work with the Nigerian government on efforts to fight poverty and increase literacy in northern Nigeria, saying that Boko Harma is expoliting the misery and lack of opportunities for many in Nigeria's poorer North.

The United States currently provides $600 million a year in foreign aid to Nigeria.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid