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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid