Mr. Speaker, in 2010, we saw a similar dip in Boko Haram’s capability. Its founder was killed and many of its fighters wiped out. Boko Haram went into hiding and all was quiet, but that quiet did not last. Boko Haram regrouped, appointed a new leader even more radical than its founder, and came back deadlier than ever.
We can’t let that happen again. Boko Haram is still capable of launching deadly asymmetric attacks throughout the Lake Chad Basin. My staff has been tracking their attacks. There is hardly a day that goes by when there is not some sort of Boko Haram attack that kills innocents.
Over the past few years, relations between Nigeria and the U.S. have been strained. Joint military trainings were cancelled and the U.S. hesitated to supply weapons to Nigeria’s military citing concerns about human rights abuses. It took the United States 11 years to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization.
Finally on November 12, 2013, the night before this Subcommittee and the Africa Subcommittee held a joint hearing on why Boko Haram was not on the FTO list, State Department called to say it was designating the group. That was an important step but there are questions about the implementation of the designation.
It does not seem that all the tools that a designation carries are being brought to bear on the group, especially when it comes to stopping its financing. The U.S. has started to do more to help Nigeria combat Boko Haram since the election of Nigerian President Buhari in late May of 2015.
Infantry training has been restarted and we are seeing an increased level of cooperation between AFRICOM and the Nigerian military. In October, the Administration announced that it was sending troops and drones to Cameroon as well as surveillance aircraft to Niger.
But like the FTO designation these are steps that should have been taken years ago, before Boko Haram was allowed to become more lethal than ISIS. Now we must do more to support our African partners to stamp out this Islamist menace once and for all. The fight against Boko Haram is essential to U.S. national security interests.
In ISIS, we have already seen what happens when we underestimate a terrorist group. While Boko Haram may not have the capability to attack the United States today, neither did al Qaeda in the years prior to 9/11. We cannot wait for an attack to happen on American soil before getting serious about destroying those who want to destroy us.
Now is the time, when it costs far less blood and treasure, to stamp out Boko Haram.
And that’s just the way it is.