Boko Haram: We’ll Trade Girls for Fighters

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In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. intelligence experts were “combing over every detail” of the latest recording. He said administration officials have seen the video and “have no reason to question its authenticity.”

A Nigerian government statement said it was reviewing the video and would “continue to explore all options for the release and safe return of our girls back to their homes.”

In a video last week, Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery. It arrived amid unverified reports that Christians among the students had been forced to convert to Islam and that some were taken to neighboring Cameroon and Chad, where they were forced to marry their abductors. Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.”

The latest video, obtained by The Associated Press, came through channels that have provided previous messages from Shekau, who spoke in the video in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria. Wearing camouflage fatigues, he clutched an assault rifle in the footage, which was imprinted with the Boko Haram insignia — a Quran resting on two crossed assault rifles — and below a black jihadi flag.

The United States put a $7 million ransom on Shekau last year.

The mass abductions and failure of Nigeria’s government and military to rescue the girls has aroused outrage at home and abroad. Last week, Nigeria belatedly accepted offers of help from the United States, Britain and other nations.

President Goodluck Jonathan‘s acceptance Sunday of help from Israel, which plans to send a counter-terrorism team, has angered some Muslims.

A leading Islamic scholar, Ahmed Mahmud-Gumi, warned in a statement that accepting help from Israel would “turn Nigeria into another global arena and battlefield for the filthy neocolonial squabbles by interest groups.” On Saturday he said allowing Western soldiers onto Nigerian soil could make the country a new magnet for foreign Islamic militants who want to confront the United States and others.

The foreign help does not involve boots on the ground but rather experts in intelligence gathering, counter-terrorism and hostage negotiations.

The U.S. team consists of some 30 people drawn from the State and Defense departments, the White House said Monday. Among them are five State Department officials, two strategic communications experts, a civil security expert and a regional medical support officer. Four FBI officials with expertise in safe recovery, negotiations and preventing future kidnappings are also part of the group.

The Pentagon said 16 Defense Department personnel were on the team, including planners and advisers who were already in Nigeria and have been redirected to assist the government.

French President Francois Hollande invited Jonathan and leaders from neighboring Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, as well as representatives of Britain, the EU and the United States, to a summit on Saturday to focus on Boko Haram, terrorism and insecurity in West Africa.

A French official said Jonathan had agreed to attend. He spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the gathering have not been finalized.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Said Djinnit, his special representative for West Africa, is in Abuja for meetings with the president and other officials on how the United Nations and its member states can help.

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