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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.