WASHINGTON – A congressman is warning that Barack Obama’s terrorism policies not only appease Islamic jihadists such as the al-Qaida-linked Boko Haram, they empower such radicals, possibly contributing to the abduction of almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month.
The policies also may have led to the murder of a family two years ago in the village where the girls attended school.
“As someone whose cousins were Christian missionaries in Africa, I have a difficult time watching the current administration appear to spend more time empowering radical Islamists in various countries than defending or protecting Christians,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told WND.
Gohmert proposes a quick and uncomplicated solution to what policymakers are calling a religious cleansing at the hands of radical Islamic groups in northern African countries such as Nigeria.
“If this administration went after Boko Haram the way Bush went after the Taliban, a few hundred special ops and intelligence personnel could be embedded, give air support, then totally defeat them without repeating the Bush administration’s mistake when they added tens of thousands of troops that became ‘occupiers,’ and engaged in nation-building,” Gohmert said.
“We can and should help Nigerians defeat radical Islamists, then get out,” he said.
Last month, Boko Haram abducted and enslaved 276 schoolgirls taking exams at a school in the northeastern Nigerian Christian enclave of Chibok village. Several countries have joined in the search for the girls.
As WND reported, 15-year-old Deborah Peters gave a harrowing account to reporters at a Hudson Institute news conference last week of how she barely made it out of Chibok village alive. Two years ago, Boko Haram terrorists stormed her home, brutally murdered her father and brother, then tied her to their lifeless, blood-spattered bodies.
Unlike some of her playmates from Chibok village who are still missing, she escaped being sold into slavery by Boko Haram terrorists three days before Christmas 2011.
“Boko Haram was closing in on the area where Deborah lived in northeastern Borno state where Chibok village is,” Nina Shea, Hudson Institute’s director of religious freedom, told WND.
Chibok’s population consists mostly of children who became orphans as a result of Boko Haram’s killing campaign.
“Most [children] there don’t really fight. It is the Boko Haram that is fighting,” Deborah said.
As Deborah’s story goes, all was relatively quiet in the family home that evening. Just a month before, Boko Haram launched a terror campaign attacking and killing Christians while burning down churches with the goal of eradicating Christians and moderate Muslims and establishing a “proper Islamic state.”
The church of Deborah’s father, Peter, was one of those torched. When Peter refused to convert to Islam, the al-Qaida-backed terrorists promised to return.
“They marked him for death,” Deborah said.
Hear Deborah Peters’ comments at the news conference:
That December night, at 7:30 p.m., three men knocked on Deborah’s door, and her brother opened it. The attackers asked where her dad was, and she told them he was in the shower.
“They drug him out of bathroom and demanded for him to deny his faith,” Deborah said, opening up for the first time about her horrific experience to a room full of reporters.
“I told them my father can’t do that,” she said. “They told him they would kill him if he didn’t deny his faith. But I told him that he should rather die than to go to hellfire. So he told them that God said anyone that denied Him, God would deny them in heaven.”
For that, he was shot three times in the chest.
The three attackers then debated whether to save Deborah’s brother.
“Should we kill him? He’s too young,” remarked a lieutenant.
“Yes, shoot him. He will grow up to be a Christian pastor like his dad,” the leader said.
So they did.
Deborah’s heartbreaking story continued: “He fell but he started moving. So they shot him again, this time in the mouth. … I was in shock. I didn’t know what was happening,” she said.
Deborah held back tears as she recounted the details of her family’s slaughter. But her experience was just beginning. The terrorists put Deborah between the two lifeless, bullet-ridden bodies of her father and younger brother and tied her to them, where she was forced to remain all night.
“The next day, the army came and took my family to the mortuary and me to the hospital,” she said.
Boko Haram considers itself to be “gentlemen terrorists” because until the killing of Deborah’s brother, the terrorists refused to kill women, children or the elderly.
Now the fate of Chibok’s children is grim at best. Girls as young as 8 years old are kidnapped, forced to deny their Christian faith and convert to the most extreme version of Islam, which denies them of their most basic human rights. They also must undergo a Taliban-style Islamic “cleansing” before being sold to the heads of terrorist factions, oftentimes at a price of $12 each.
Chibok school and village is a Christian enclave, and the kidnapped girls were only at the school overnight to take exams, Shea told WND. Yet, only one police guard was hired to protect the girls. Overpowered, he was incapable of fending off an attack.
“Deborah’s story brings out the tip of the iceberg,” Shea said. “Boko Haram has been going around systematically from Christian village to Christian village, killing the men. It’s religious cleansing operations.”
Oil-rich Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and one of the top 10 emerging world economies.
It’s an area where analysts say destabilization is dangerous.
“If Nigeria is in turmoil and massive amounts of people are dying, we will have to get involved,” Shea said.
That’s even as Boko Haram is “aiming for the Talibanization of Nigeria.”
The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $45 million on “education initiatives” in northern Nigeria that primarily benefit Shariah-based schools.
“Their analysis is Boko Haram is angry about the poor delivery of government services,” Shea said.
She pointed to her May 9 National Review opinion piece revealing recent reports the U.S. State Department’s delay in designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization had policy consequences that directly contributed to Deborah’s family’s murder and the recent kidnapping of the Chibok village girls.
In the piece, she reports delaying the terrorist designation until last November “helped the Obama campaign narrative that al-Qaida was on the run.”
“But it didn’t help Nigeria, whose girls and boys, men and women, Christians and [moderate] Muslims are now paying with their lives and living in dread of a larger, more powerful Boko Haram.”
She cited an instance in which a day after the 2012 Nigerian church bombings by Boko Haram, State Department officials then said, “Religion is not driving extremist violence in northern Nigeria.”
“I was dumbfounded,” she told WND.
Further, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They don’t offer anything except violence. They don’t offer a health-care plan, they don’t offer schools. They don’t tell you how to build a nation; they don’t talk about how they will provide jobs.”
“When they killed Deborah’s brother, they changed the goalpost of who they would not kill,” international human-rights attorney Emmanuel Ogebe said. “The Christian response to the genocide was to move men out and leave women behind. Boko Haram realized they were going out of the terrorism business when they realized there were no men left to kill. This is how this resident evil is evolving.”
Ogebe said the State Department caused Deborah even more emotional damage when officials twice denied her a visa to enter the U.S. after the terrorists slaughtered her family.
“They said to her … you can’t make this stuff up … they said to her, ‘You don’t have family ties.’ They essentially retraumatized a girl whose family was exterminated by terrorists,” Ogebe said.
Since 2011, Boko Haram terrorists have killed more than 800 Nigerian Christians and bombed, torched or otherwise destroyed scores of Christian churches, villages and homes, according to the latest statistics from the evangelical group Open Doors.
“Boko Haram is becoming tactically more superior than the security forces on ground. We have noticed the armaments they bring in [are] way more sophisticated than what the Nigerian government has,” Ogebe said.
In a June 2012 speech detailing existing and emerging threats from African extremist organizations, African Command’s top military officer at the time, Army Gen. Carter Ham, said Boko Haram is “operating unconstrained” and has “very clearly” shown a desire and intent to attack Americans.
Ogebe said because of Boko Haram, entire villages from Nigeria are evacuating into Chad, Cameroon and neighboring countries.
Deborah says she is sharing her story so the world will know her family did not die in vain. She says her Christian faith, the same faith she shared with many of her missing peers, is one she wants the world to know about.
She came to the United States eventually through the work of Tuesday’s Children, a New York-based nonprofit that’s worked with more than 3,000 children whose loved ones died in the 9/11 attacks.