Tag Archives: Boko Haram

First lady embarks on important mission in Africa

First lady Melania Trump is on a mission in Africa. Her aim is to spread her mission to help children and to protect them from various forms of exploitation.

She also can perform a public relations clean up of a mess made by her husband, Donald Trump, the president of the United States. You see, the president is still trying to live down a quote attributed to him in which he referred to African nations as “sh**hole countries.” I don’t recall him making any distinction among the nations on the continent, just that all the nations on the continent were sending unwelcome immigrants to our shores.

Well, the first lady now is embarked on a mission to promote her signature issue: child protection.

Africa is a good place to take that message.

You’ll recall the terror group Boko Haram, based in Nigeria. Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of young women, many of them children. They released some of them, but reportedly are holding others in some hiding place. No doubt they are being terrorized and intimidated by their captors.

What the first lady can do to help these young victims remains unclear, but she does occupy an important bully pulpit.  I sincerely hope she uses it to speak truth to the need to care for young people around the world.

As a guest column in the Dallas Morning News notes, Africa has the world’s largest concentration of people younger than 18. Many of them are in desperate straits. They need a powerful ally to speak to their needs. Melania Trump can offer that voice on their behalf.

Read the column by Natalie Gonella-Platts here.

Moreover, she can bring worldwide attention once again to the terrorists acts of Boko Haram and demand once more: release those young women and girls and return them to their families.

Our attention span has its limitation

If Donald John Trump has succeeded at anything during his first 100 days as president of the United States, he has managed to wrench Americans’ attention away from some previously grievous international crises.

We’ve instead been fixated on the chaos that reins inside the White House, on the president’s continually clumsy statements about “major, major” conflicts with North Korea and other matters.

But just for the sake of remembering some of the issues that riveted our attention, if only for a brief period, let’s review them:

* Boko Haram. Do you remember when the Nigerian terrorists kidnapped those hundreds of women and girls, holding them somewhere deep in the forest? First lady Michelle Obama made it a serious public cause as she sought to rally international indignation over the hideous treatment.

* Under-age refugees. In 2015, the United States became a magnet for thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing repression in Central America. They came all the way through Mexico and entered this country illegally. We were outraged that so many of these children were being allowed to pass through Mexico; we wondered whether the Mexican government cared to stop the kids from entering the United States. There were calls to round them up and send them back.

* Haiti earthquake relief. The most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere was shattered in 2010 by a killer earthquake. The death toll reached into the hundreds of thousands. The world was stricken with horror and grief. President Obama dispatched his two immediate predecessors — Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush — to lead a task force to raise money for Haiti. Then word came back from the island nation that the money wasn’t being spent on restoration, that it was being siphoned off by corrupt government officials.

I ask about these events because there was well-meaning rhetoric from people in high places that the world must not forget these crises. They dominated news cycles for weeks on end. The world must keep them in its sights. It must be relentless in its pursuit to repair the damage done at all levels.

Then the world forgot about them.

These crises have been replaced by many others since then. The Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea’s saber-rattling, the Islamic State.

The presidential election occurred just a few months ago. Now we’re focusing on just how the new president intends to get his administration in order. If he’s able.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian women are still held captive, the children are still imperiled in Central America and Haiti remains a shattered nation.

We say we still care about these matters. Do we care enough?

Meanwhile, Boko Haram still terrorizes women


The world is reeling from yet another terror attack in a major European city.

Brussels is the latest city to be victimized by the Islamic State. Our hearts break for the loved ones of the 31 people killed in the blasts at the city’s airport and in a metro rail station.

However, I cannot help but think of another terror crisis that at one time also captured the world’s attention.

Remember the group called Boko Haram? It operates in Africa. It is a Nigeria-based cabal of radical Islamic terrorists.

It kidnapped an estimated 200 women, holding them captive in some unknown location.

Didn’t the world coalesce around the plight of those women? Weren’t there concerted efforts launched by African nations, the United States, European Union nations and others to find the kidnapers and bring them to justice?

I believe the women and girls are still being held by these terrorist monsters. I believe Boko Haram is still as despicable as it’s always been.

The outcry? It’s been muted … inexplicably.

Perhaps our global attention span needs to be expanded and enhanced to enable it to focus on more than one crisis at a time.

The Brussels attacks have captured the world’s attention, just as the Paris attacks had done just a few months earlier.

While the world focuses on those two events, a hideous terrorist group continues to bring havoc to women in Africa.

It, too, needs to be destroyed.


How do these crises disappear?

TO GO WITH AFP STORY: MEXICO-MIGRATION - An entire family emerges from the bushes on the Mexican bank of the Rio Bravo --reduced in that particular point to a narrow stream-- 11 April, 2006 near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Thousands of illegal immigrants cross the border to enter the United States every day in search of better opportunities. AFP PHOTO/Omar TORRES (Photo credit should read OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)

ROCKPORT, Texas — Do you ever wonder how yesterday’s crises manage to vanish into thin air?

Two of them come to mind today as I sit here on the Texas Gulf Coast, pondering this or that.

  • Boko Haram’s kidnapping of those women and children. What’s become of these terrorists’ hideous treatment of Nigeria’s most vulnerable citizens. Boko Haram grabbed more than 200 victims, took them to some hidden location and became the target of international condemnation.
  • The influx of children from Central and South America into the United States. Remember when the Obama administration was being pilloried by critics who contended that our “porous” borders were allowing the flood of unaccompanied children into this country?

Both stories have disappeared from the world’s radar.

Were they resolved? No. The women and children still are missing. They might be dead by now for all we know. There was talk about Boko Haram releasing some of them, that the Nigerian government was working diligently to obtain their freedom. What’s become of that effort?

The children who fled to the United States? Has the migration stopped? Did Mexico do what it should have done all along, which was stop the migration through the entire length of the country into the United States?

Our attention span gets diverted to other things so easily, it’s a shame that these one-time crises become old news.

Those innocent victims — in Nigeria and inside our own borders — still need our help.


Terrorist group 'pledges' to Islamic State?

As if Boko Haram needed to state a formal “pledge” to align itself with the Islamic State.

That’s what the Nigerian goons did. They have joined ISIL’s “caliphate” and joined with the monstrous Middle East terror group.

What does that mean, then, for Boko Haram? For my money, it puts them in the crosshairs of U.S. and allied military and intelligence forces.


We’ve already been bombing the daylights out of ISIL military targets, killing ISIL fighters virtually daily.

The same fate should fall on Boko Haram, who burst into international notoriety by kidnapping those 200-plus young women and girls. They’ve kept their captives hidden for a year, despite reports in recent months about some kind of tentative agreement to release them.

The world already understands that Boko Haram is a serious threat to decent human beings everywhere. This group is the Nigerian version of Islamist extremism that is causing havoc throughout the Middle East.

So, this terror group has pledged its allegiance to ISIL. It also should draw a pledge from the United States and its allies to kill its members on sight.


Gov. Walker goes to 'war' with unions

Now that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has all but announced his 2016 Republican primary presidential campaign, it is time to examine everything this man says in public.

Such as when he drew a shaky comparison between union protesters and Islamic State terrorists.


Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference this past week, Walker actually said his experience facing down tens of thousands of angry union members has prepared him to wage war against ISIL.

Union protesters equal monstrous terrorist cult. Get it? One is the same as the other.

Walker has sought to put a bit of distance between himself and those remarks. He told reporters after his CPAC speech, “There’s no comparison between the two, let me be perfectly clear. I’m just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling a difficult situation was the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with.”

Still, the critics make a point of wondering why he would make such a ghastly comparison in the first place.

I’ve covered my share of union disputes over the years, in Oregon reporting and commenting on teacher strikes and in Southeast Texas, where the union movement remains a significant political force. I get that union protesters can be a rowdy bunch, that they actually threaten people with physical harm, particularly those who cross picket lines.

However, whatever preparation a president has in fighting hideous terrorist groups such as ISIL and now, as we’ve learned, Boko Haram, shouldn’t have any relationship with how they handle union employees who have the right under our governing framework to seek “redress of grievances.”

As U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a friend of the union movement, said in a tweet: “If Scott Walker sees 100,000 teachers & firefighters as his enemies, maybe it’s time we take a closer look at his friends.”

'Islamic terrorism' off the table at summit

The White House is going to play host to a summit discussion on international terrorism.

You won’t hear the words “Islamic terrorism,” though, used in that context.

How come?


Conservatives have been critical of President Obama for declining to refer to Islamist terrorism. He’s been parsing his language carefully to call them simply “terrorists,” even though we’re bombing Islamic State targets, seeking out al-Qaeda terrorist cells and killing its leaders, and enlisting the aid of other allies to find terrorists linked to other Islamic groups, such as Hezbollah, Boko Haram and Hamas.

Don’t mention the words “Islamic terrorist,” though at this summit.

It’s an interesting and at times troubling quibble over the use of language.

I get where the critics are coming from, but at the risk of doing something that annoys me at times — such as trying to read the minds of political leaders — I think I’m going to offer one simple hypothesis for the linguistic omission: Barack Obama doesn’t want the Islamic extremists to use any additional pretext for suggesting that the West is waging a religious war against Islam.

Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, made the point time and again that the United States is not doing battle against Islam. Obama has carried that message forward as he has continued taking the fight to the terrorists.

Yet, the Islamic terrorists — I’ll call them such here — keep trying to recruit fighters by suggesting that our side is fighting a religious war. President Obama says “no!,” just as President Bush said “no!” before him.

To use such language at the White House summit, I’m guessing, would enflame the passions further among those who continue to believe the lie that we’re waging war against one of the world’s great religions.


Boko Haram is as dangerous as ever

While most of the world focuses on the Middle East brand of international terrorism — al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian mullahs — another group of goons needs our attention as well.

The Boston Globe points out in an editorial that Boko Haram, the kidnappers of those young girls and the murderers recently of as many as 2,000 innocent victims, needs as much of the world’s attention as we can muster.


The murder of journalists and others in Paris in recent days has sucked much of the attention away from Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria, the Globe writes. The Paris shootings are “leaving little media attention for equally detestable atrocities by Boko Haram in Nigeria this month. The world ignores the Islamic extremist group at great risk both to Nigeria and the broader region. Boko Haram must be stopped in its tracks before it engages in mass murder again.”

When those girls and young women were kidnapped this past year, first lady Michelle Obama sought to lead an international outcry against atrocities against women. It had resonance for, what, perhaps a month or two? Then the world’s attention was pulled away to another international crisis. I cannot even remember which one it was, but we’ve stopped talking collectively about the fate of those girls.

The Boston Globe editorialized: “In a horrific new low, the militants have reportedly been using little girls as human bombs to inflict terror.”

And the world isn’t rising up in massive outrage over this?

President Obama once declared mistakenly — perhaps even foolishly — that the “war on terror is over.”

It is not, Mr. President. Even if we set aside the murderers running rampant in the Middle East — and we cannot do that — the Islamist monsters rampaging through Nigeria are causing untold grief and misery on thousands of innocent victims.

Once again, it is fair to ask: What about those girls?



Boko Haram is back with a vengeance

Do you need any more evidence that the global war on terror is far from over, or that it may never end?

Terrorists are everywhere. Sort of like rats and cockroaches.

You kill one, a dozen or a thousand of them and more emerge to take their place.

They exist in all corners of the globe. They do their dirty deeds, recede into the background as the world’s attention is focused on other terror groups. Then they burst back.

Boko Haram is back in the news.


The Nigerian terror group that kidnapped all those girls and young women is now being “credited” with killing as many as 2,000 victims in a mass terror attack.

Boko Haram went on a rampage about a week ago, spraying villagers with bullets. Estimates put the death toll in the thousands.

Here’s how CNN.com describes the group: “Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings. The Islamist group has said its aim is to impose a stricter form of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.”

They’re just one group of terrorists. The others, well, we know about them, too.

I’ve noted already on this blog that we must take back these silly declarations of victory in the war on terror.


The war isn’t over. Not by a long shot. It may last forever.

The aim now is to keep fighting.


Deal reached to release Nigerian girls?

OK, I’m officially holding my breath over the news that 219 girls will be released from captivity by the terrorists who captured them.

Nigerian officials announced a cease-fire with Boko Haram, which then agreed to release their captives.


This could be one very bright spot in the middle of a torrent of very bad news of late.

You’ll recall this story, I presume. The world became tied up in knots over Boko Haram’s capture of the girls at gunpoint in April from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. The United Nations tried to pressure the terrorists to release them. Celebrities sprang forth from every corner of the globe to proclaim their dismay over the capture and treatment of the children.

Then the story faded from the public consciousness, as it often does when “big stories” are overtaken by other big stories.

Well, now there’s a glimmer of hope that the captives will be set free.

The deal reportedly includes the release of extremists being held by the Nigerian government.

Sure, this is going to be tough for some folks to swallow. Me? I have no particular problem with the deal that’s apparently been brokered.

If it returns those girls to their loved ones, then that’s reason enough to cheer.