US interests in Niger Republic include of course Uranium resources for nuclear domination and control but It also includes a strategic military vantage point in the Sahel beyond AFRICOM’s offshore locations in Germany and Djibouti.
This is crucial not just because of broader global counter terrorism but also because of threats to westerners in West Africa.
Mercy Corp, an American charity’s worker in Nigeria, British national Faye Mooney, was murdered by Islamist Fulani kidnappers in an Easter attack in 2020 – the self-same Fulani ethnoreligious syndicate that abducted visiting Canadian and American aidworkers also in northwest Kaduna state previously. Their international affiliates similarly abducted American missionary Philip Walton from the country of Niger and hid him in neighbouring Nigeria – despite closed borders – until his rescue by U.S. Seals in late 2020.
The survival of both sets of American captives, I believe, was because of the intervention of the US military as I can disclose here, exclusively for the first time, that in addition to Walton, the previous Canadian/American team abducted in Nigeria were rescued by US special forces. Why was the US rescue op of the Americans kidnapped in Nigeria never publicly stated by the US government, unlike the US rescue op of American Walton kidnapped in Niger?
Washington lawyer, Nina Shea testified, ‘The Fulani in the neighboring Sahel have been recruited by ISIS and Al Qaeda but State’s report neglects to examine whether they or Boko Haram are influencing or linked to segments of Nigerian Fulani; the report raises the Sahel conflicts only to note a questionable theory that “altered grazing routes” have caused conflict because the Fulani herders “are unaware of preexisting agreements between the local herding and farming groups.” ‘ (Congressional Hearing on Conflict and Killings in Nigeria’s Middle Belt)
What did these murdered Christian Briton and abducted American/Canadian aid workers have to do with “farmer and herder conflict“ or global warming?
I submit that the State Department discounts the terrorist Fulani group that killed four US Green Berets in neighboring Niger (ambushed by cows no less) which remains the highest American fatalities in the region not even from Boko Haram, ISWA, Al Qaeda and Ansaru – all older and more notable terror groups.
Per Shea, Esq. “In October, proof of cross border collaboration between networks of criminals and terrorists emerged in the international media when US special forces rescued American hostage Philip Walton from captivity in northern Nigeria. He had been abducted from his home in terror-plagued Niger by six unidentified men armed with AKs and riding motorcycles, and trafficked into Nigeria. American officials feared he could be sold to Nigerian terrorist groups. Certainly, State has access to information of cross-border radicalisation, terrorist recruitment or support among Fulani nomadic herdsmen in this area that it should have reported.”
At Easter 2012, President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State Johnny Carson denied that religion was a factor in Nigeria’s violence, infamously saying, “I want to stress that religion is not driving extremist violence either in Jos or northern Nigeria.” Secretary Clinton refused to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organisation and Secretary Kerry finally did it only after we fought for it before congress. However Carson has just been reappointed as Special Envoy on Africa by Biden months ago.
This recurring state of denial by successive Democrat-led administrations has been a serial policy failure and reenacting this “Circle of lies” must run its course once and for all after over a decade for resolution to occur.
Unable to face the reality and overwhelming evidence of religious extremism and persecution in Nigeria, Secretary Blinken’s State Department took the cowardly option of simply hiding the ball in the last two annual Religious Freedom Designations.
This situation is alarming because very recent history shows such policy fraud will be exposed and secondly it has dire consequences as we see now in Niger.
Secretary Clinton’s non-FTO designation is now recognised as one of her signal failings but Secretary Blinken has done worse by not merely ignoring evidence but for rigging the report required of him under the IRFA (Frank Wolf’s Law.)
The travesty is that he did this barely a month after ordering the evacuation of American diplomats and their families out of Abuja due to islamists’ failed attempt to blow up American diplomats’ homes in Nigeria.
The US continuously fails to acknowledge its role in the worsening of the terror situation in Nigeria and West Africa namely:
-the US invasion of Afghanistan and the freeing of Nigerian foreign fighters of Al Qaeda, allowed them return to Nigeria and foster Boko Haram;
-the US/NATO invasion of Libya resulted in massive arms proliferation into terrorist elements in Nigeria and west Africa;
-the US dislodgement of ISIS in Iraq led to a relocation and realignment in Nigeria as ISWA;
-the US/NATO arming of Ukraine has led to the influx of more arms in terrorist hands in West Africa;
-the US refusal to acknowledge and address global jihadi ties to Nigeria have led to influx of arms from Hamas and Iran;
-the US failure to enforce the FTO sanctions which we successfully pushed for nine years ago has enabled arms smuggling into Nigeria by Turkish Airlines.
The US embassy’s unprecedented mass evacuation from Abuja, highlights a grave serial policy failure, barely a year after the State Department delisted Nigeria’s prior designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for egregious religious persecution during Secretary Blinken’s November 2021 visit to Abuja.
In my November 2022 letter to the US Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, I said, “I am concerned that in addition to ignoring the plight of Nigeria’s persecuted Christians over decades, the US government apparently also glossed over attacks on Americans in Nigeria leading inexorably to the current unfortunate situation.
“Prior to the bomb discovery incident, an American missionary was kidnapped by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Middle Belt who said they were offered $20,000 to abduct a white person. Yet, this was neither reported in the news or in alerts to Americans in country.
“In 2020, US Navy Seals rescued US missionary Philip Walton from Nigeria (where he was taken by the Fulani group who abducted him in Niger) to be resold to ISWA pursuant to the existing regional operational collaboration between the Fulani and Boko Haram jihadists…
“But whereas the former US administration promptly designated Nigeria a CPC in 2020 weeks after the rescue of Phillip Walton from his Muslim Fulani abductors, the current Biden administration appears set not to rename Nigeria a CPC despite evacuating the entire US embassy from an Islamist threat!
“It is notable that American diplomats were present at both of the first suicide bombings by Boko Haram in the nation’s capital Abuja in 2011. Yet the State Department resisted efforts to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organisation until November 13, 2013 when myself and victim Habila Adamu testified in the US Congress https://pjmedia.com/tatler/2015/03/18/could-boko-haram-be-hillary-clintons-biggest-scandal-n199524
“On this ninth anniversary of the belated FTO designation of Boko Haram, I urge the Biden administration to redesignate Nigeria a CPC especially following its failure and inability to safeguard US interests from Islamist terrorists resulting in the precipitous and unprecedented mass evacuation of the US embassy in Nigeria’s history. It is high time for the US policy position to finally align with the facts…
The failure to designate and treat Boko Haram as the foreign global terror threat (FTO) that it was on time could arguably have resulted in the evacuation.”
Despite these facts, Secretary Blinken once again omitted Nigeria from the list of persecutor countries in November 2022.
My investigations have not uncovered this but it is highly likely the US military base in Niger played a role, either as a staging ground or intel and logistic support, for both the rescue ops carried out in Nigeria (Besides, there may be other rescue ops that we are not aware of.)
What we do know is that even the deaths of the American green berets in Niger were similarly shrouded in deceit and secrecy as revealed in the film “3212 Un-redacted”.
A news report says, “Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed in the deadly Oct. 4, 2017, ambush. The Green Beret team and 30 Nigerien troops were returning from a village near the Malian border when they were overrun by scores of extremist… Islamic State-aligned militants that had been reportedly tracking the joint team’s movements for hours.
“The investigation found that while the team was authorised to perform key leader engagements and advising for local forces, they were not authorized to perform capture or kill missions.
“The concept of operations paperwork sent up through the chain of command reportedly mischaracterised the nature of the mission…
“The investigation determined that the commanders who filed the paperwork were not being intentionally deceptive.
“The paperwork that was submitted, the packet was identical to a previous [concept of operations]. So it was done hastily, and there was a lack of attention to detail,” Cloutier said. “It wasn’t a deliberate intent to deceive, it was lack of attention to detail.” https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2018/11/05/two-star-general-green-berets-punished-for-deadly-niger-ambush-that-killed-4-us-soldiers/
It is tragically ironic that more US lives were lost in Niger than in Nigeria which posed the greater threat to Americans. It should be clarified that apart from the US military rescue of the yet four unidentified Americans and Canadians, in 2018, most of the other Americans attacked by terrorists in Nigeria escaped by mere fate and luck – including those in whose home a bomb was found in Abuja just 10 months ago.
But since then the US continues to claim there’s no religious extremism, persecution that warrants relisting Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern.
Persistent falsehood has not helped but rather hurt and the US seems nowhere near honesty about the realities of Niger and Nigeria.
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell and 20 “Nigeria experts” in U.S. academia were instigated by the USG to write a letter to the Department of State opposing an FTO designation of Boko Haram which I championed. https://www.thedailybeast.com/hillarys-state-department-refused-to-brand-boko-haram-as-terrorists
There was no single Nigerian-American professor amongst them despite the fact that the Nigerian-American community is the most educated group in the US. Here’s what’s funny. When we researched the 20 signatories of those who supported the wrong side of history, we found out that some of them were experts on Niger masquerading as experts on “Nigeria.”
- •Emmanuel Ogebe, Esq, is a US-based international human rights lawyer and Nigerian pro-democracy advocate with the US NIGERIA LAW GROUP in Washington. His advocacy led to the naming of Kudirat corner by Nigeria house in New York, the US designation of Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organisation and International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s determination of crimes against humanity in Nigeria amongst others.