Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast has an extensive piece on Hillary’s State Department obstructionism over placing Boko Haram on the FTO list.
The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls.
On Wednesday, Clinton said that the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had numerous meetings with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and had urged the Nigerian government to do more on counterterrorism.
What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.
“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”
Johnnie Carson, Obama’s Chicago-born man in Africa, and the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at subcommittee hearings chaired by Senator Coons, dismissed the idea of designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization and claimed falsely, that despite Boko Haram’s repeated statements about its goals and its very name, that this conflict was not driven by religion, but by social inequities.
Questions about Boko Haram’s terrorism against Christians were rerouted into what Carson described as a “comprehensive” approach to the problem, sidelining security assistance in favor of providing social aid to the Muslim north and urging the Nigerian government to stop aggressively fighting terrorism.
As a government employee, Johnnie Carson was somewhat more discreet, but took the same position that the real fault lies with the Christian South and the Nigerian government for keeping Muslims oppressed and in poverty, and that the only solution is to pour money, jobs and power into the north. The unstated endgame of this is to create a stalemate that will force the Nigerian political system to make further concessions to Islam and the Sharia law that Boko Haram is fighting for.
The United States is deeply concerned about the fighting in northeastern Nigeria following President Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in the Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states. We are also deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn, only escalate the violence and fuel extremism.
That was May 2013. A year ago.
The State Department’s policy is echoed in new stories claiming that Boko Haram was a peaceful Muslim group that turned to violence due to the oppression of the government. Nothing substantial has changed.