FPI Resources on the Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria

January 14, 2015

By FPI Director of Government Relations Caitlin C. Poling

Last week, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram reportedly killed as many as 2,000 civilians and soldiers in a series of attacks in northeastern Nigeria.  This attack marks both an escalation in the terror group’s efforts to establish a caliphate and in the tactics it employs. The group is now using young girls as suicide bombers, and has expanded its reach to control roughly 20 percent of Nigeria, a territory nearly the size of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg combined.

In August, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekaku declared the establishment of a caliphate in the territory he controls [after having pledged allegiance to both al Qaeda and the Islamic State].  The terror group has caused more than 10,000 deaths and displaced more than 1.5 million people in the last year.

The military effort against Boko Haram is faltering.  During its rampage last week, the group seized a military base that served as headquarters to an international task force with troops from Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.  Cooperation between Washington and Lagos has been strained by corruption and human rights abuses, and Nigeria cancelled a U.S. military training mission in December.  With national elections swiftly approaching and Boko Haram on the march, Nigeria faces a dangerous year ahead.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) believes the following resources will be helpful for lawmakers, reporters, and the general public as they respond to Boko Haram’s recent attacks:


Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse – Editorial – Washington Post – January 13, 2015

“It’s past time for Nigeria, West Africa and the West to recognize Boko Haram for what it has become: a complex terrorism threat on a scale comparable to the Islamic State, embedded in Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation.”

Boko Haram Has Become Africa's ISIS – Peter Pham – The Hill – January 7, 2015

“[T]he United States, its African partners, and the rest of the international community need to give some serious attention as well as dedicate real diplomatic — and, yes, military — resources toward a situation that was already quite dire, but could significantly and rapidly deteriorate in 2015.”

Nigeria’s Elections Will Be a Test of Peace vs. Power – Editorial – Washington Post – January 6, 2015

“The United States and other Western governments ought to press [Nigerian President Goodluck] Jonathan as well as his opponent to respect the rule of law. The government must prioritize peace, not power, if Nigeria is to weather this particularly dangerous stress test.”

#BokoHaramIsWinning – Editorial – Wall Street Journal (subscription required) – January 5, 2015

“U.S. officials are right about Nigerian incompetence, and we can hope the shock of losing Baga will concentrate minds in Abuja. But like it or not, the U.S. will need to stay militarily and diplomatically engaged to stop Boko Haram from establishing a de facto caliphate in West Africa.”

U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria’s Boko Haram – Ambassador John Campbell – Council on Foreign Relations – November 2014

"Washington should follow a short-term strategy that presses Abuja to end its gross human rights abuses, conduct credible national elections in 2015, and meet the immediate needs of refugees and persons internally displaced by fighting in the northeast."

Boko Haram Is Acting Increasingly Like the Islamic State. Why Don’t We Treat it That Way? – Jacob Zenn – Washington Post – November 13, 2014

“In addition to working to end Boko Haram’s funding, the United States can exercise leadership with its European allies in West Africa — such as France, which has close historical and linguistic connection to Nigeria’s neighbors — to develop a regional strategy to prevent Boko Haram’s expansion and roll back the insurgency.”

Boko Haram Marches On – FPI Director of Government Relations Caitlin C. Poling – U.S. News and World Report – September 12, 2014

“Without addressing its systemic corruption and human rights abuses, Nigeria cannot be an effective partner in the fight against Boko Haram. American’s best hope for now is that the emergence of a self-proclaimed ‘Islamic state’ on Nigerian territory will finally force Abuja to get serious."

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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