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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid