French President Francois Hollande told reporters yesterday that Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group based in Nigeria, abducted a French family of seven, including four children, in northern Cameroon.
Hollande noted the continuing role of France in the fight against Islamist radicals in Mali and said the French parents and their children, who work for a French company in Cameroon, were kidnapped near the northern Nigerian border. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reminded reporters that eight French citizens are already being held in West Africa’s Sahel region by al-Qaeda-affiliated groups. “It shows that the fight against terrorist groups is a necessity as they threaten all of Africa,” he said.
Over the weekend, seven foreigners were also abducted in northern Nigeria’s Bauchi state, and al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru took responsibility. Gunmen killed a guard and kidnapped seven foreign workers from Britain, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, and the Philippines. CBS News reports that “Boko Haram, whose name means ‘Western education is sacrilege’ in the Hausa language of Nigeria’s north, has demanded the release of all its captive members and called for strict Shariah law to be implemented across the entire country. The sect has killed both Christians and Muslims, as well as soldiers and security forces.”
Radical Islamist groups in northern Nigeria have now become the biggest threat to the political stability of the largest oil producer in Africa. This rising risk can be seen in Nigeria’s steadily declining economic freedom scores in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s annual Index of Economic Freedom.
The fate of Nigeria needs to be a major concern to Washington. The Administration needs to take a stand against this growing Islamist threat. They have waited too long hoping this uncomfortable situation would resolve itself. At least calling Boko Haram the terrorist group they clearly are would be a huge step forward. The Nigerians have helped other African nations repeatedly, often stepping in where it was not appropriate for the U.S. to intervene in any sort of a direct way. Is it not time for America to at least give Nigeria rhetorical support?