The attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi brought to light that terrorism is on the rise in North Africa. But for African Christians this has been a reality for many years.
Indeed the most recent example of such terrorism is the Islamic radical group Boko Haram, which has been systematically murdering Christians in northern Nigeria and elsewhere since 2009.
The number of Christians killed by Boko Haram is roughly equal to all of the deaths to date resulting from Syria’s bloody civil war. Just last week, the group butchered at least “10 Christians with guns and machetes and [burned] down their houses” in northeast Nigeria.
This newly minted Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist organization is responsible for killing an estimated 3,000—mostly Christian—in northern Nigeria and 11 other countries in the last three years. Boko Haram has publicly acknowledged that it has ties to Somalia terrorist groups and Al Qaeda.
Its goal is to cleanse all of northern Nigeria of any non-Muslims. Its means of accomplishing this goal is straightforward and simple—genocide.
On any given Sunday Boko Haram can be found slaughtering men, women, and children in Christian churches: and they often follow-up by murdering mourners at the many funerals that follow. They seek out and kill, by a variety of brutal means, the leading Christian opposition voices and government officials having the temerity to speak out against them.
To date, the government and the Nigerian army have been emphatically unable to stop them or the killing, which is escalating in astounding numbers. They have also threatened U.S. interests and attacked U.S. citizens.
Two Americans, one a United Nations official and one an official from the U.S., survived a bombing in August 2011 at the U.N. headquarters in Nigeria. And rest assured, these are not acts in purported response to bad movies on the internet.
Boko Haram released a pre-recorded video after bombing the United Nations headquarters that makes the point. In that video, the suicide bomber said he was undertaking the mission to send a message to U.S. President Barack Obama and “other infidels.” The message was that this is war and that it will be carried out as a religious conflict conducted by the rules of jihad.
Alliance Defending Freedom and Jubilee Campaign, together with several other concerned organizations, are formally requesting the U.S. State Department designate Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Why do this? Such a designation triggers a variety of legal sanctions against the terrorist organization including freezing bank accounts, outlawing transfer of funds to support the group, expelling or arresting its members or associates in the U.S, and imposing sanctions on countries that provide support for the group.
The formal petition and report to the U.S. State Department is a 60 page document that exhaustively describes the founding and history of Boko Haram and the many atrocities it has committed.
What can others do?
Any concerned citizen can sign an online petition on the White House website that asks the State Department to designate Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization.” This is extremely important in persuading the U.S. government to make this happen. It’s past time to begin recognizing and taking steps to stop this murderous group.