Boko Haram is nothing new

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For almost three years, myself and other intelligence analysts, working in a 10th Mountain Division battalion S2 (Security and Intelligence) produced multiple unclassified briefs for the commander concerning the Nigerian Terrorist organization known as Boko Haram.

Boko Haram recently made headlines for holding over 200 school girls captive and threatening to sell them in to slavery. 

Boko Haram was ignored by the media and the State Department, because it was not politically expedient to mention that yet another Islamist terror organization was growing in power. This year in particular Boko Haram set fired to several villages in Nigeria, destroying hundreds of houses and killing dozens of people. Boko Haram’s destruction of a Nigerian air force base in December went almost unnoticed by the media. In one report, I noted that the Nigerian government was incapable of annihilating Boko Haram and that the violence was growing more intense, despite the Nigerian government’s attempts to destroy the terror group. The group even drove an armored personnel carrier during an attack.

Yet the US State Department waited for years to place Boko Haram on its list of terror organizations. It certainly wouldn’t have fit the “al-Qaeda is on the run” narrative” that was so popular at the time, to announce to the world that a powerful terrorist group had arisen in Africa, especially during the time that America was busy obliterating the Libyan government and handing over that country’s hinterlands to brigands and jihadists, cheering the fall of Mubarak in Egypt only to see chaos reign there after his fall, and then seeing US representatives slain in the Benghazi debacle.

Sadly, this isn’t the half of the African and Asian stories, where multiple democracies are falling to pieces. The American withdrawal from the world is leaving a vacuum in its wake. As much as many dream that the world is a better place without a strong hegemon, The Coming Anarchy will see it differently. We need not, and we should not, endeavor to fix every problem with democracy, for democracy, like pie, is only as tasty as its ingredients. But the chaos that even now has begun to swallow Africa and parts of Asia will result in the deaths of thousands, and quite possibly millions. Doing something when we have the chance to stop mass killings is the responsibility of those that are given much. To do otherwise is decadence and cowardice.


4 thoughts on “Boko Haram is nothing new

    WTP said:
    May 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    And that is to say nothing of the hundreds/thousands(?) of boys forced into Bacha bazi in A’stan.

    T. J. Babson said:
    May 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Magus, WTP–comments?

    After 9/11 our ruling class came together on the proposition that, at home as well as abroad, America is at war against enemies so evil that there must be no limit to fighting them, whose identity we must always seek but can never know; that to focus on, to “profile,” the kinds of persons who have committed terrorist acts, is racist and provocative; that any American is as likely as any other to be a terrorist, and hence that all must submit to being sifted, screened, restricted—forever. Childhood in the “land of the free, the home of the brave” must now include learning to spread-eagle and be still as government employees run their hands over you. Patriotism is now supposed to mean obeisance to the security establishment, accepting that the authorities may impose martial law on whole cities, keep track of all phone calls, or take whatever action they choose against any person for the sake of “homeland security,” and that theirs alone is the choice whether to disclose the basis for whatever they do.

    While the Obama administration ceased to use its predecessor’s term “war on terror” to describe its actions abroad, it redoubled commitment to “homeland security,” reorienting it to home-grown “extremism” defined ad hoc. The result seems less compatible with words such as “peace,” than with “Oceania,” the country in which George Orwell’s novel, 1984, is set.


    Nations, like armies, are seldom as cohesive, so at peace internally, as when first confronted by enemies-in-arms. Foreign terrorists having broken America’s domestic peace for foreign causes, Americans naturally drew closer to one another against the powers that embody those causes—the several Palestinian powers, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.—as well as against their sympathizers and their cultures. But then our ruling class demanded that Americans put out of their minds that 9/11 had been perpetrated by Muslims acting on behalf of Muslim causes; it demanded that the American people put aside the distinction between fellow citizens and those who despise us, between our culture and theirs; that, as a gesture of peace toward the Muslim world, Americans make no distinction between themselves and the people, culture, and causes responsible for 9/11 and nearly all other acts of terror.

    That meant demanding that Americans believe that any among ourselves are as likely as not to be terrorists. In sum, it demanded that Americans trust each other less than ever, but that they trust the authorities more than ever. Thus having diminished the natural distinctions between citizen and foreigner, familiar and alien, friend and enemy, our ruling class accentuated the artificial distinction between rulers and ruled. The former set of distinctions tends to bind a people together. The latter divides them.

    Nevertheless, after a decade of “homeland security,” divided as the American people are among themselves, they seem increasingly united in distrusting the US government. Polls taken by the Washington Post as well as by Fox News after the April 15, 2013, bombing of the Boston Marathon that left 3 people dead and 208 injured, asking whether you fear more “that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism . . . or whether it will go too far,” found that respondents feared the government more than the terrorists by margins of seven to thirteen points, respectively. By contrast, similar polls after 9/11 had shown a huge reservoir of trust for the government. How did the government waste that trust?

    WTP said:
    May 15, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Well for starters, I don’t trust nothing that starts with “After 9/11 our ruling class…”, but letting go, letting go….this may sound like a cop-out, but constantly viewing our problems as political problems that can only be resolved if we “get the right people in power” will simply perpetuate the problem from a different angle. I found this most instructive in regards beyond finance:

    We are in a struggle for our culture and our youth. The media and academics have a near monopoly on these things. This is what we must change, and then our “ruling class” will follow along. The idea that things are set by the “ruling classes” is a refusal, based on fear, to acknowledge how deep the problem really is. We must overcome the fear, deal with the matter head-on, and these other things will take care of themselves.

    Don’t take this part to its libertarian extremes, I offer it only as a thought experiment in an idealistic perspective. I shouldn’t care if the government reads my mail if there is no reason for them to find it the least bit interesting. Now that’s an exaggeration based on an ideal that will never come to be, nor would I want to live in a world where such is accepted as tyranny will soon follow. But the idea, in the abstract, that I should have nothing to fear from my government is the ideal we should shoot for. We still want our enemies to fear our government.

    magus71 responded:
    May 16, 2014 at 4:26 am


    Yes, we know who the terrorists are. Liberals who want to be so multicultural will be the ones quivering the most in an Arab culture surrounding by Arab men. When I was a cop, I could drive down a street and point the criminals out to you. I was and am told by philosophers that a black guy with his hat on sideways, and his pants around his knees is no more likely to be a criminal than any other person. The philosophers are wrong.

    The whole deal about American interrogations, remember? What a joke. Terrorists know they can almost always resist American interrogations. There was simply no danger, and they knew it.

    The fact that our government has decided that everyone is a potential terrorist is the result of a population that prefers fantasy to realism. WTP is right, the Ted Kennedy (s) of the world were put there by voters. Just as Edward Gibbon said, Greece and Rome began to fall when the people required more of the government than they required of themselves.

    Any really appropriate actions would be deemed fascist, even though those actions and many more were practiced by all robust empires throughout history.

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