Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, is warning that while the world is focusing on the ISIS “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, another group of Muslim jihadists has made a similar declaration in Africa.
“You can do anything at the point of a gun,” he said.
Stockman was responding to a declaration by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau that a section of northern Nigeria is now part of his Islamic caliphate.
Nigerian military officials dispute the claim, calling the declaration the result of “delusions.”
But Stockman said there is reason to be concerned.
“It’s not an idle boast for Shekau to declare a Muslim state in Gwoza and in Borno state [in Nigeria]. If you read the accounts, the Nigerian soldiers fled. When you’re belligerent and you have the point of a gun, collecting taxes is a nominal feat,” Stockman said.
The video statement from Boko Haram in Arabic said, according to an English translation: “Thanks be to Allah who has given us victory in Gwoza and made us part of the Islamic caliphate. Thanks be to Allah. We are in an Islamic caliphate and we have nothing to do with Nigeria.”
Stockman said there’s no reason to believe Boko Haram can’t carry out various functions of government, but ultimately that isn’t the issue.
“What matters is their ability to keep everyone under control at the point of a gun,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s a good way to govern, but a quarter of the world’s population is at the point of a gun. That’s the way they’ll keep them in line,” Stockman said.
Stockman also believes the Nigerian government is “handicapped” in its ability to stop Boko Haram.
“The Nigerians don’t have any choice but to take them on. But they have many handicaps in being able to do that. One of the biggest handicaps is that the Americans are prevented from helping them because of current U.S. law,” he said.
“It’s not a slippery slope if we just give them the weapons and information they need to fight. We have satellite and surveillance abilities that the Nigerians don’t have,” he said.
Stockman added that it isn’t logical for the U.S. to be silent in the present situation.
Boko Haram has established a reputation for ruthlessness in Nigeria, killing Christians, burning Christian churches and driving people from their homes at will. The number of fatalities isn’t even known because of the extent of the terror inflicted on the population.
Still, Boko Haram comes in second place in the terror race to ISIS, the Islamic jihadists who have taken over parts of Syria and Iraq after driving out Christians and all symbols of their faith and terrorizing the populace through beheadings and crucifixions.
Hussein Solomon, a political science professor at the University of Free State in South Africa, believes Boko Haram’s Islamic state will succeed financially.
“They have the money as they are involved in kidnappings and received lucrative funds from this,” Solomon said.
And he said the group has full control of a large sections of Yobe and Borno states.
He noted Shekau praises ISIS, now called the Islamic State, “so we may see some connections developing.”
The expectation now is that Boko Haram will expand operations.
“The immediate impact of their declaration of an Islamic state will be even more sophisticated attacks and better trained Boko Haram fighters,” Solomon said.
Cameron Thomas, Africa area manager for International Christian Concern, said that while Shekau made clear the declaration meant Gwoza no longer has anything to do with Nigeria, “it remains unclear whether Boko Haram’s self-declared Islamic state is intended to coexist with, or compete against, the caliphate established by the Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria.”
Stockman said the Nigerian jihadists are pursuing a long-standing Islamic goal.
“Connections have been their dream, and we will see more violence if we don’t act to stop their advances,” Stockman said. “They’ve been working to take the world back to the seventh century, and the only thing that can stop them is if the West will help the Nigerians defend their own country.”
He said the declaration of an Islamic state follows a historical pattern.
“Their rhetoric is emulating al-Qaida. Anyone who’s doing the acts and war crimes that they’re doing in Nigeria and Iraq has to be a sick individual. That’s true of Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and others who killed millions.
“Those individuals are psychopaths. Unfortunately some people follow these leaders to the detriment of our world history where we continually see mass murderers rise to prominence because everyone is fearful of taking them on,” Stockman said.
WND reported in July that the potential for further Boko Haram aggression increased with their information and tactic-sharing agreement with Somalia-based al-Shabaab.
Maha Hamdan, an analyst for Consultancy Africa Intelligence, said the connection will further enhance Boko Haram’s increasingly sophisticated operations and add incentives to al-Shabaab.
“The effectiveness of its operations and capabilities to operate and hit targets … is a security nightmare for anti-terrorism experts,” Hamdan said. “While many scholars share a view of the organization as limited to only local confines, such information trading will help both to expand operations.”
She said that with the emergence of the African continent “as a growing pawn for Islamic extremism and radicalism, the linkages and cooperation of these groups cannot be underestimated.”
“Boko Haram and al-Shabaab have quickly evolved and have the intention of developing the capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level with Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.”
Thomas believes the West should focus on the impact on the region’s Christians.
“Shekau’s declaration, made in a 52-minute long video that also captured summary executions of unidentified but likely Christian civilians, should serve as a rallying point around which the international community must come together in providing support to the Nigerian state in its battle against Boko Haram,” Thomas said.
The video report: