All 20 female senators urged Obama in a letter to pursue severe international sanctions on Boko Haram. A smaller group of mostly male senators urged Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to address the root causes of unrest in his country.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. had been in touch with Nigeria “from day one” of the crisis. But repeated offers of U.S. assistance were ignored until Kerry got on the phone Tuesday with Jonathan amid growing international concern and outrage over the fate of the girls in the weeks since their abduction.
Kerry said Nigeria apparently wanted to pursue its own strategy, but now realizes more needs to be done.
“I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort,” Kerry said at a State Department news conference. “And it will begin immediately. I mean, literally, immediately.”
A statement from Jonathan’s office said the U.S. offer “includes the deployment of U.S. security personnel and assets to work with their Nigerian counterparts in the search and rescue operation.” The statement added that Nigeria’s security agencies are working at “full capacity” to find the girls and welcomes the addition of American “counter-insurgency know-how and expertise.”
Nigeria’s Islamic extremist leader, Abubakar Shekau, has claimed responsibility for the abduction and has threatened to sell the girls. Shekau also warned that Boko Haram will attack more schools and abduct more girls. Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.”
The State Department on Tuesday warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Nigeria.