The United States is withholding information that could help the Nigerian government defeat the Islamic jihadist group Boko Haram, which utilizes murders, bombings and terror to pursue its goals, according to a congressman.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Obama administration is not sharing the information because it objects to Nigerian policy. He led a delegation to Nigeria June 12-16.
A source who insisted on anonymity told WND the “policy” is Nigeria’s determination to affirm traditional marriage and reject same-sex unions along with non-discrimination statutes that endorse homosexuality.
“We have information that would help the Nigerian military take back their country and get back those girls,” Stockman said. “The mistake on our side – the United States’ side – is that we have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government.”
He was referring to the more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram April 24. Eleven parents of the children have died in subsequent violence. Although 57 girls were able to escape during the first few days after their capture, 219 are still in captivity.
Boko Haram sent out a video with threats that the girls would be sold into slavery.
A source told WND the information held by the U.S. includes details of the strength and numbers of Boko Haram troops and their capabilities.
Stockman said Obama has a solution but won’t use it.
“I would ask the president, why not issue an executive order that could allow our military to turn over critical information that would help the Nigerians find the girls, get the girls back. Even the State Department is opposed to allowing the intelligence to go forth to the Nigerian government. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.
The congressman said he’s considering ways that the information could be delivered anyway.
“What needs to happen is that the people in charge of the information need to be pressured to share it. The information industry and the people need to get the word out to pressure the Obama administration to allow the American government – we’re not asking for boots on the ground – to share information and possibly the hardware the Nigerian government needs to do the job,” Stockman said.
White House National Security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan denied the U.S. is withholding the information from Nigeria.
Recent developments in the African nation support Stockman’s sense of urgency.
Analysts say that recent bomb attacks and a report that the number of Christians killed in the first half of this year already nearly matches last year’s toll mean Boko Haram is operating without restraint. The group controls several key north-south highways, and terror group members are collecting tolls from travelers on the highways.
Hussein Solomon, a professor at University of the Free State in South Africa and an analyst for the Israel-based think tank Research on Islam and Muslims in Africa, says Boko Haram essentially is operating as a nation.
“I believe that they have been in control of the northern parts of Nigeria for at least the past 15 months with the complicity of certain northern officers in the Nigerian armed forces who miss the days when they controlled the entire country during the days of the military juntas,” he said.
“The use of tolls follows the same tactics used by al-Shabaab in southern Somalia. My sense is that northern Nigeria with or without Boko Haram will split from Nigeria in the same way that South Sudan has split from Sudan. It is just a matter of time,”” Solomon said.
Stockman said reports he has received affirm Boko Haram controls the north.
“It’s tantamount to what ISIS is doing in Iraq. The Nigerian government understandably doesn’t want to put out that scenario. But unfortunately that’s it,” Stockman said.
IntelligenceCommunity.com analyst Maha Hamdan said Nigeria may be on its way to a split between the north and the south.
If a split happens, Hamdan said, it will be a bloody one, citing 2009 intelligence reports foreseeing Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, which lacks petroleum resources, turning into an Arab aligned, possibly terrorist nation and an enemy of the U.S.-backed south.
“A breakup will certainly be bloody and cause years of internal wars, disability and suffering. Nigeria’s north is the food basket of the nation, providing vegetables, cereal and beef, while the south is the industrial capital,” Hamdan said.
International Christian Concern’s Africa specialist Cameron Thomas observed that controlling territory and running a country are different realities.
“While Boko Haram is still in pursuit of an Islamic state, it’s clearly in control of swaths of land the Nigerian military is either unwilling or unable to penetrate. However, Boko Haram is not a standing regime or ruling party; it’s a radical Islamic insurgency that, at present, is no more capable of presiding over a state than is al-Qaida, or any other notable terrorist network,” Thomas said.
Thomas noted allegations the Nigerian military has been infiltrated by Boko Haram sympathizers, which could help explain why the government isn’t stopping the jihadist group.
“Villages are being raided, churches burned to the ground, and motorists mugged by toll booths for terrorism without the slightest opposition,” Thomas said.
Hamdan believes the Christians in the north are in great danger and left with few choices.
One woman reported villagers were told to become Muslim or die.
“The area is still under the control of the insurgents. The insurgents occupy all roads leading to the towns; residents are unable to return to even bury the dead. It is too dangerous,” Hamdan said.
Thomas noted that in a single attack that claimed 26 lives, Boko Haram brutally murdered a pastor and burned down three churches with congregants still inside with total impunity.
“In the aftermath of the massacre, not only have the perpetrators of these heinous crimes not been brought to justice, the whereabouts of the late pastor’s family remain unknown,” Thomas said.
Hamdan said the government cannot be a foundation for hope, noting the “poorly equipped and trained forces.”