ABUBAKAR Shekau must be relishing the fact that his rabid behaviour and manifested insanity are earning him the international notoriety he has been yearning for over the years.
As a local warlord and mimicry of the equally notorious Taliban, Shekau and his cohorts should be celebrating that at last they have made the international community look more than casually in their direction. It was a feat they achieved with a show of unmatched barbarism and savagery.
Shekau has other reasons to shoot more rounds of ammunition in the air. If you search for his name in Wikipedia, you will see that he has been described as the Emir of Boko Haram! But that title will surely pale in significance when he realizes that suddenly his name has become a prominent feature in U.S. presidential politics.
In the wake of the abduction of the innocent school girls in Chibok, well-intentioned people all over the world have added their voices in condemnation of Boko Haram’s action. Hilary Clinton, a viable presidential candidate-in-waiting for the Democratic Party and a lady who is known for advocating for the rights of women globally, has also spoken out against Shekau and his group of bandits.
She tweeted in support of the world-wide movement to free the girls. She also said in a television interview that what Boko Haram has done is “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.”
Being a potential candidate with a very realistic chance of becoming the next U.S. president, Hillary’s condemnation of Boko Haram has been turned into a political weapon in the hands of the Republican Party lieutenants.
Representative Peter King, a prominent face in the Republican Party, wasted no time in announcing to the world that he and a colleague had requested the U.S. State Department to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group when Hillary was the U.S. Secretary of State, but their request was brushed aside.
As with the tradition of the Republicans to latch onto anything that might taint Hillary’s credentials, Fox News soon joined in turning Boko Haram into weapon of political attack against Hillary. Newton Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a commentator on CNN, was not left out of this race to besmirch Hillary. Several Republicans have now joined the train.
It has since emerged that in May 2012, the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had made representations to the State Department to put Boko Haram in the U.S. list of terrorist organizations but the Hillary’s office rejected the advice.
Barely a month thereafter, General Carter Ham who was then in charge of the U.S. African Command warned that Boko Haram was receiving training and some sophisticated weapons from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and urged that something be done. Again, the State Department refused to brand Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. It was only in November last year that the same State Department but now under John Kerry openly came out to declare Boko Haram a terror group.
What is not being given prominence in the news is that the State Department under Hillary resisted branding Boko Haram as a terrorist organization partly because the Nigerian government did not want Boko Haram to be so classified. The rationale then was that classifying Boko Haram as a terrorist organization in the same register as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, would be according the group some global recognition and elevating its status. This was done because groups such as Boko Haram seek global publicity, and anything done to internationalize their name plays right into their corporate strategy.
Another reason was that the U.S. saw Boko Haram as a local affair which the Nigerian government was capable of dealing with, just as Nigeria fought and vanquished the Kamajor militia in Sierra Leone when that country was plagued by very bloody internal insurrection. In addition, Boko Haram then posed no real danger to the U.S. Time has redrawn the terrorism map. Boko Haram has shown that it has some capabilities beyond what it used to possess in its years of infancy. The U.S. has realized that Boko Haram could become hydra-headed if not checked. The Nigerian government has demonstrated bewildering amateurishness in dealing with Shekau and his band of renegades. The U.S., Nigeria and other nations are now in the same boat fighting Boko Haram.
But, the battle is shifting to the U.S. political terrain. What I essentially hear from the Republicans is that Hillary failed to declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization and that it is not in the interest of the U.S. to ignore such an organization that might grow in competence to later pose an existential threat to the U.S. and its citizens. Whenever the Republicans talk about Boko Haram, it is discussed in the context of Hillary Clinton and her ambition to run for the U.S. presidency in 2016.
If AbubakarShekau is listening to the Republicans and their anti-Hillary political antics over Boko Haram, he might be thrown into another fit of his trade-mark devilish laugher and be encouraged to even commit more havoc, as he watchesU.S. Republican Party demagogues use his name to attempt to score cheap political points.