Pamela Constable, of The Washington Post, writes Protesters rally outside Nigerian Embassy to demand action over schoolgirls’ abduction, which describes 20 U.S. women Senators sending a letter to President Obama urging him to take stronger steps to rescue the approximately 230 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boco Haram. CNN has just announced that the Nigerian government as formally agreed to accept U.S. help in the form of a "coordination cell," which you can read about below.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who organized the signings with Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), said later that the situation is “so horrendous and the comments made by the head of this group that girls should be married between ages 9 and 12 and should be denied any kind of education call out for a vigorous response from all around the world -- men and women alike. But I think having the 20 women senators lead the way is the beginning of sending very powerful signal. It’s not sufficient, but it’s a first step of the actions we want to take.”
Collins said the letter would request that President Obama ask the United Nations to classify Boko Haram as a terrorist organization and take steps to impose sanctions against the group. The State Department already classifies the organization as a terrorist group.
On Saturday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry called the mass abduction an “unconscionable crime” and pledged U.S. aid to the Lagos government in finding and returning the missing girls. Boko Haram has terrorized parts of northeastern Nigeria for five years, killing more than 1,000 people.
Nigeria is hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa which starts Wednesday and has been accused of downplaying the kidnappings to avoid bad publicity. Yesterday, the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan was reported to have had one of the women leaders of the protesters arrested, but she denied this way the woman was merely "invited" to discussions.
One angry protester outside the U.S. Embassy said:
“We are tired of the government putting its head in the sand. Girls in Nigeria have the right to be educated and the right to be safe,” said Omolola Adele Oso, 35, a Nigerian immigrant.
Ashley Fantz Aminu Abubakar, of CNN, writes Villagers: More girls kidnapped in Nigeria, reporting that the United States and Nigeria are going to set up a special coordination cell" to provide intelligence, investigations, and hostage negotiation expertise," according to the U.S. State department.
The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, is ready to create a "coordination cell" to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. The cell would include U.S. military personnel, she said.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday to reiterate an offer to help, Psaki said. The conversation happened on the same day that CNN and the Reuters news agency confirmed that at least eight more girls had been snatched in Warabe village, which is in the northeastern part of the country. ...
"The President and the government is not taking this as easy as people all over the world think," Doyin Okupe, senior special assistant to Jonathan told CNN's Isha Sesay. "We've done a lot but we are not talking about it. We're not Americans. We're not show people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something." ... Okupe said there is a "hot pursuit" on for the kidnappers.
Also on Tuesday the United Nations human rights chief blasted Boko Haram and sent a stern warning to the group that under international law, slavery and sexual slavery are "crimes against humanity." ... "The girls must be immediately returned, unharmed, to their families," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a news release.
Yesterday, Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau says, "I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market by Allah." Unconfirmed reports indicated some of the girls may have already been sold as slave brides in Chad and Cameroon for as little as $12.
CNN interviewed Senators Sue Collins (R) and Barbara Mikulski (D) who are leading the 20 women serving in the Senate. Senator Collins urged our president to use special forces to rescue the Nigerian girls. Senator Mikulski was more circumspect, urging our military and intelligence functions to cooperate with some Nigerian and regional African special forces groups who would lead ground operations, which seems to be the actual plan. Senator Mikulski also suggested putting Boco Haram on a list of terrorist organizations at the U.N. in order to activate global sanctions.
Considering the possible unintended consequences of racial, religious and other sensitivities seems to favor Senator Mikulski's wiser proposal to use African regional special forces to carry out boots-on-the-ground operations with Americans only involved in these "coordination cells" which might include such things as command, control, communications, and intelligence, aka C3I, that link together and possible even direct all operations and field assets.
I would leave this judgement to President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, our State Department and military commanders who have a stellar and proven track record of excellence in this area. This is not an area of my own professional expertise so I am not offering opinions just reporting the news. I completely trust that anything the U.S. can do President Obama and SoS Kerry can and will do on our behalf.
We have also heard reports that the U.S. has integrated the use of drone technologies, into our classic satellite, and field intelligence, that might be deployed now that we have the proper invitation from the sovereign government in charge of the area, however, at this point based on the public data, authorities have no idea were these girls are, and some may already be dispersed throughout Chad and Cameroon, out of reach of dramatic displays of force.
Our hearts, sympathies, and prayers go out to all these girls, their families, Nigerian, and all the other families and victims of child slavery around the world which is much to common. We need to use this incident to focus more attention on this whole vile global shame.