tv Militant Islam in Africa CSPAN May 18, 2014 12:25pm-2:01pm EDT
proces.s we will do this as quickly as we are able to do. >> thank you. >> thank you. two questions. number one, you have heard serious problems about waiting times at various locations around the country. i think dr. petzel informed us the last few years we have seen two million additional veterans come into the system. million new patients have arrived since 2009, with a net increase of 1.4 million. >> i would the suspect that some of the patients are coming in with some serious problems in terms of ptsd,? >> yes, sir. >> let me ask you a civil question. to what degree does the v.a. not have the resources to address that increase in patients?
in a lot of patients coming in certain parts of this country, and are we seeing we think this is you do not have the resources? what is the answer? >> uh -- ability ton, the provide appropriate access to these group of veterans depends on several things rate one is the people. do we have enough people. are we using these people effectively. are we using all the other things available to us, telehealth, fe-basis program, etc.. one of the things we are going to do is we are to look at this place that are having access difficulties as a result of this and make a determination as to whether or not we have adequate resources there. do, but wenow is we need to look carefully at those
places where we are having access issues, to see if it is a resource problem. >> that may conclude, and -- >> may i add, this is not a once and done or whenever we have a crisis we do. this is an ongoing set of looks at ourselves. our patient load. grows each year complexity of the issues, as you describe. this is an ongoing assessment that we tried to get into the budget process so there is an orderly decision-making. >> at me thank you for being here. -- let me thank you for being here. i would like to call up our second panel. >> you can watch the rest of this testimony on our website.
>> the secretary, new have to take names and kick but when he needed to. that is the guy we need in there. not the guy who lets dr. petzel run everything. he was blindsided by multiple issues. i can only imagine what the discussion must have been like. the focus will get away from fixing the problem to who is the new secretary going to be. then you have a grace. because there is a new guy. the best bet is to keep the secretary on board, the president needs to keep him on a very short leash.
fox newsome of the sunday. you can listen to a rebroadcast on c-span radio starting at noon. next a look at a subcommittee hearing on the objection of nigerian schoolgirls. witnesses include the defense department, state department, and international development agency. the talk about the terrorist group responsible and what is being done. this is an hour and a half. >> good morning. i would like to call the subcommittee hearing to order. good morning. extremistsgo today,
objected 300 schoolgirls. the leaders of the group are selling the girls into marriages and forcibly converted them to islam. it is believed the girls are being held in a dense tropical forest the size of west virginia. it straddles three countries. despite being forewarned of an attack, the local and central government did nothing to protect them. no child should have to live through the horror that these girls experienced. these are not the only families that suffered. killed.people were more than 300 people were murdered.
columnist nick chris to have wrote last weekend the greatest threat isn't drones, firing missiles, but girls reading books. the schoolgirls from chibok in nigeria demonstrated great courage returning to their school to take their final exams in the face of an explicit terrorist threat. a group that targeted them simply because they sought an education. boko haram is trying to send a message, and the world, starting with theny jeern government, must respond by saying their crimes will not be tolerate and perpetrators held accountable. we're holding this hearing in part because of the outpouring of concern from many of my skon tich wents and millions of americans. the bring back our girls hashtag which some pundits have mocked has been mentioned more than 3 million times on twitter. and those tweets, posts on facebook, instagram and others were from people trying to get our attention. and trying to make sure the united states is doing everything it reasonably can to help the nigerians bring these abducted girls home.
those people deserve to know that we hear you and share your goals. every day these girms are missing, it becomes less likely they will be returned home safely. it took too long for the nigerian government to respond to these girls' abduction. it took too long for the nigerian government to accept offers of assistance from the united states, the united kingdom, france and china. and once accepted, it took too long for that assistance to be implemented. i'm glad a u.s. team is on the ground now and we need to make sure not another day is wasted. we cannot stand by while boko haram viciously attacks nigerian citizens, their freedom, their security and their right to an education. so in this hearing we will discuss the response of the nigerian government to boko haram both before and after the abduction. we will consider what the u.s. is doing and can do to help in response to the abductions. and in confronting boko haram. finally, we will consider the regional implications of those growing threat and what action can and should be taken by cameroon, chad and niger to ensure the schoolgirls are not
taken across borders and to minimize the growing regional threat. i'd like to invite an opening statement by my ranking member flake and then senator menendez. >> i appreciate the witnesses coming forward. look forward to their testimony. i won't take any time here. just to say i agree with the chairman's comments. we want to know what the u.s. government is doing, what -- what the nigerians have asked for. whether we can help them or not in this regard. i look forward to the testimony. thank you for calling the hearing. >> thank you, senator. i greatly appreciate your cooperation and real partnership in working on this subcommittee. to the full committee chairman, senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as i sit here in your chair i get the blue hand vibrations coming from delaware. so i appreciate your leadership and senator flake's on the africa subcommittee on a wide range of topics.
and today is a continuation of that leadership. and we are all thankful for the work that you do on behalf of all of us that serve on the committee. so thank you for your work and your leadership. we are -- it's very rare, i should say, that i come to a subcommittee hearing, as a matter of fact, i haven't done it in the 17 months that i've been the chairman. i remember senator lugar used to do it quite often. but this is one that i clearly feel compelled to be a part of. we are all appalled at the plight of nearly 300 young women abducted in nigeria by boko haram. which has been said many times, to me it's amazing that the phrase "education is forbidden" in the 21st century is still a reality. of course, it's a phrase that is counterintuitive to those of us
who care about the future of the next generation. right now these girls are separated from their families and no doubt are terrified. i've seen the video released by boko haram this week, and my thoughts as a father are with the missing girls and their parents. frankly, in my view, the fact that incidents like this are happening at all in the 21st century should be deeply troubling to every human being. we must reaffirm and recommit ourselves to the fundamental rule of law everywhere. as parents, as human beings, we must insist women and girls be treated with dignity and allowed to live and learn in safety from extremists everywhere. sadly, while the scale of this incident is staggering, the boko haram threat is not a new one. they have led an escalating campaign of atrocities against their own people for five years. they are extremists with a gangster mentality who represent no interest but their own, targeting young women, but also
young men, churches and schools. i believe they do not represent islam. and in my view, their actions cannot go unanswered. the mothers, activists and concerned citizens who have taken their outrage and grief to the streets of abuja, london and washington and the electronic highways of twitter and facebook deserve credit for focusing the world's attention on this crisis and insisting the nigerian government bring them home. just this past friday i joined outraged citizens in my own state of new jersey who added their voices to the chorus and took up the cause on social media. that said, despite offers of assistance from the united states and other international partners, the nigerian government's response to this crisis has been tragically and unacceptably slow. i've called on president jonathan to demonstrate the leadership his nation is demanding. my understanding is that our team of u.s. technical advisers is now on the ground supporting existing teams, conducting
aerial surveillance and sharing commercial satellite imagery with nigerian authorities. beyond what is happening on the ground as we speak, i look forward to hearing our witnesses discuss a plan of action for coordinating with nigeria over the coming days and weeks. finally, from a 30,000-foot view, the rise of groups like boko haram do not occur in a vacuum. nigeria has a long history of division along ethnic and religious lines. tensions that terrorists capitalize on creating more distrust and more tension. but as much as we are appalled by the actions of boko haram and their tactical effort to use societal fissures to create chaos and distress, we should also be troubled by a record of excessive force and human rights abuses by nigeria's military. i'm pleased to see, mr. chairman, you've added an additional witness. ms. atata abu dalahi who's worked in nigeria on interfaith
violence prevention and reconciliation issues. brought together civil society groups, government leaders and security forces to prevent human rights abuses in nigeria. we look forward to hearing her testimony. finally, let me close by emphasizing the intention of myself as the chairman the importance of elevating the issue of women's issues globally. sexual violence, violence against women in general to the international arena. i call on my colleagues in congress to pass the international violence against women's act we introduced last week. i believe the world is watching and the time is now. my thanks to you, mr. chairman, senator flake and to our witnesses i look forward to the testimony. >> thank you very much, chairman menendez. we all look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today. i'd like to welcome our first panel. ambassador robert jackson, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for african affairs, earl gast.
and ms. alice friend, principal director for african affairs at the department of defense make up our first satle. our second panel will be latana abdue lahi. this hearing will be joining us later via google hangout from nigeria. we look forward to ms. adulahi's testimony. i want to thank our first panel of witnesses for being here today. and welcome your opening statements. >> chairman coons, ranking member flake, chairman menendez, other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to update you about u.s. efforts to address the chilling threat that boko haram represents to nigeria. one of our most important partners in subsaharan africa.
-- she will be attending the regional summit organized by president hollande in paris on saturday. it has now been one month since boko haram kidnapped the 200 young women from the town of chibok in northeastern nigeria. at the time of the kidnapping, these brave young women had returned to their high school in order to complete examinations that would allow them to attend university. by seeking knowledge and opportunity, they represented a challenge to boko haram since it opposes democracy and formal education. indeed, boko haram has attempted to crush the kind of faith and the promise of education and prosperity that families in chibok showed. the attack is part of a long, terrible trend. boko haram fighters have repeatedly targeted schools. in february, boko haram massacred at least 29 people when it destroyed a rural boarding school in otamawa. boko haram has murdered police
officers, snatched children, destroyed churches, burned schools, attacked mosques, driven people from their homes, challenged the government's authority and kidnapped westerners in both nigeria and neighboring cameroon. since january 1st, boko haram has killed over 1,000 people. making nigeria's struggle against this group one of the deadliest conflicts in africa today. in addition to terrorizing the capital and other cities, boko haram attacks villages and military installations. the abductions in chibok fit into a larger pattern of violence. throughout northeastern nigeria, teachers and students have learned to fear the men who come in the night to kill young men and teachers and steal away young women. some of the young women from chibok daringly escaped their captors, but many more remain prisonerses of boko haram's
leader, abubakar shekau and his followers. this tragic kidnapping calls us to redouble our efforts to defeat a malicious terrorist organization that has troubled nigeria for more than a decade. world leaders including president obama have pledged their full support to the government and people of nigeria as they seek to safely recover and assist these courageous young women. we acted swiftly to carry out the president's pledge. by monday, may 12th, we had deployed an 18-member interagency team to advise the nigerian government as it works to bring back the young women. specifically, by advising on how to safely recover and assist these girls, offering specialized expertise on military and law enforcement best practices, hostage negotiation, intelligence gathering, strategic communications and how to mitigate the risk of future
kidnappings. usaid has mobilized resources to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by boko haram violence including through the provision of psycho, social and medical support and treatment. we are cooperating fully with our partners, the uk, france and a host of other countries who are also dedicating significant interagency manpower, resources and time to this effort. mr. chairman, a peaceful and stable nigeria is crucially important to the future of africa. and we cannot stay on the sidelines if it stumbles. nigeria has the largest economy and largest population. we look to nigeria as an ally in our quest to help africans lead lives free of violence and filled with possibility. as an engine of growth and a political giant, nigeria is vital to the success of president obama's 2012 strategy toward subsaharan africa. as we implement the strategy we
are looking at secure nigeria. since boko haram came to the world's attention with a massive uprising in 2009 we have been working to help nigeria counter this threat. we provide nigeria with security assistance which goes to our professionals in the nigerian military, investigating bomb sites and enhancing border security. we have increasingly placed our response to boko haram in a regional context. through our transs a,h,a,are an counterterrorism partnership the global counterterrorism forum and bilateral relationships with nigeria's neighbors we are encouraging greater information sharing and border security efforts. the importance of regional coordination is clear at a time like this as nigeria and its partners seek to prevent boko haram from smuggling young women across the border or using neighboring countries as safe havens. i must note, however, that our ability to encourage regional collaboration is made more difficult at this time as our highly qualified nominees to be the ambassadors to niger and cameroon continue to await
confirmation by the full senate. we have also joined the international effort to isolate boko haram. in june 2012 the state department designated boko haram's top commanders as specially designated global terrorists. in june 2013 the state department added abuick c-- abubakar shekau. in november 2013 the state department designated boko haram and ensaro as foreign terrorist organizations. last week our ambassador met president jonathan and they agreed on the importance of quick action on the u.n. designation of boko haram as a terrorist group. this week nigeria brought this question to the u.n. security council. at the same time, we have been urging nigeria to reform its approach to boko haram. from our own difficult experiences in afghanistan and
iraq, we know that turning the tide of an insurgency requires more than force. the state must demonstrate to its citizens that it can protect them and offer them opportunity. when soldiers destroy towns, kill civilians and detain innocent people with impunity, mistrust takes root. we share these lessons with our partners in nigeria, urging them to ensure that security services respect human rights and officials and a culture of impunity while people see the benefits of government and diverse voices are heard and represented in the capital. we have seen some signs of reform. national security adviser sambo dusuki's march announcement of a soft approach to countering violent extremism was encouraging. and we have worked through our counterterrorism and conflict stabilization operations bureaus to promote narratives of nonviolence in nigeria. as we strike a balance between counseling and empowering nigeria, we regularly send
high-level diplomats to nigeria. on may 12th and 13th our undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, dr. sarah sewell, and african commander general david rodriguez were in nigeria to discuss how to intensify our efforts against boko haram, reform human rights practices and pursue a comprehensive approach. all of these policy tools, our security actions -- constitute the framework in which we are working to help nigeria bring back these girls kidnapped by boko haram. resolving this crisis is now one of the highest priorities of the u.s. government. nevertheless, nigeria's conflict with boko haram will not end when these young women are brought home. consequently, throughout this crisis, our assistance is framed by our broader and long-term policy goal of helping the nigerians implement a comprehensive response to defeat boko haram that protects
civilians, respects human rights and addresses the underlying causes of conflict. we are sharing with the government of nigeria practices and strategies that will bolster its future efforts to defeat this deadly movement. nigeria's importance and the violent attacks committed by boko haram are both growing. we cannot ignore either trend. we welcome the committee's interest in these urgent matters and we look forward to continuing to work with you as we strive to bring these young women home and to address the broader threat. i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> thank you, ambassador jackson. assistant administrator gest. >> chairman coons, ranking member flake and chairman me mendes, thank you for the opportunity for me to speak before you today about the brutal kidnaps of more than 250 young girls from their school just one month ago. this late egs brutality was not an isolated incident. for years boko haram has terrorized the people of northern nigeria. they have attempted to exploit northern nigeria's low level of
infrastructure, development and security that affects all aspects o f life from economic growth to access to basic services, resulting in the north's growing isolation. this conflict has caused decreases in agricultural production, price spikes and serious concerns about food security, both in the north and also in neighboring states. for example, niger is import dependent and dependent on exports from nigeria. in nigeria, nearly 4.2 million persons are at risk of food insecurity and continued unrest will likely have long-term impacts on nutrition, agriculture and trade. it is projected that by 2015, nigeria will soon be home to the largest number of persons worldwide living in extreme poverty. in may 2013, due to an escalation of violence, the government of nigeria declared a state of emergency in adamawa,
borno and yobay states. in early 2014 attacks carried out by boko haram militants killed more than 1,500 persons. according to the u.n., violence had displaced more than a quarter of a million persons to neighboring states by only a few months later in march. 70% of whom were women and children. in communities hosting internally displaced persons, the presence of additional families is straining local resources, including already stretched water systems and basic commodities. to determine the extent of this crisis, the u.n. along with key international ngos are currently conducting a multiagency, multisector needs assessment. and u.s. aid is a part of that assessment team. last week, a team of humanitarian professionals from the u.n. and the ngo community traveled to the areas that are now part of the state of emergency as well as three bordering states that have
received most of the idps, internally displaced persons. this team is meeting with state and local officials, with the displaced persons themselves, and other community members to establish the number of displaced persons, where they're living, their ability to access food, income, health care, education and water and hygiene. the team will also evaluate food security, nutrition and protection services along -- along with identifying actors who are on the ground and who can help develop the most effective approaches to deliver relief. we will use the results of this mission to shape the provision of humanitarian assistance in partnership with others to meet urgent humanitarian needs among affected families. assistance will include food, shelter, safe drinking water, emergency treatment of acute malnutrition, community-based
psychosocial support and programs targeted at preventing and treating sexual and gender-based violence. exacerbating this humanitarian crisis is boko haram's assaults on youth seeking education. a good education is a global public good and it's a necessary ingredient for economic development and poverty reduction. education enables people to live healthier lives, fulfill their potential and also contributes to open, inclusive and vibrant societies. these attacks undermine northern nigeria's already precarious educational system by destroys schools, forcing others to close, and keeps thousands of students and teachers out of the classroom. school attendance in the region already well below the national rate will continue to suffer. usaid has active programs in nearly all of nigeria's northern states with a particular focus on bochi and soboto.
through our education programs in the north we have increased access to basic education services for more than 15,000 orphans and vulnerable children. we've strengthened the capacity of some 24 education-related ngos. and we've also influenced nigeria's educational research and development council to include reading as a core objective of its curriculum. usaid's conflict mitigation program active in six states in the north including borno, the state most affected by the violence, has funded numerous community training programs on conflict mitigation. we've supported and trained conflict management and mitigation councils, and we have carried out in partnership with local organizations phone in interfaith dialogues on radio and television programs. today our thoughts are with the schoolgirls and their families and the millions of nigerians forced to live under the threat of boko haram's violence every
day. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. principal director friend, thank you for joining us today. we welcome your testimony. >> chairman coons, ranking member flake, members of the committee, thank you for calling us together to address the deeply disturbing abductions of over 270 schoolgirls in northern nigeria by the terrorist organization boko haram. people of goodwill across the globe have been horrified by this barbarous act and are rightly demanding nigerian authorities take immediate measures to recover the girls and are asking what those of us in the international community can do to support nigerian efforts. last friday the united states dispatched a multidisciplinary state-department led team of experts to abuja to provide the government of nigeria with the specialized advice and expertise it needs to respond to these abductions. dod has provided four subject matter experts from u.s. african command headquarters in stutgart
germany to augment ten dod personnel already assigned to our embassy in abuja as part of the interagency team. in addition two military officers with extensive experience supporting the counter lords resistance army mission in uganda also have been temporarily relocated to abuja to provide their advice and assistance. in total, 16 dod pesh knell with medical, intelligence, counterterrorism and communications expertise have been assigned exclusively to the mission of advising the nigerian security force's efforts to recover these girls. secretary jackson also mentioned the concurrent visit of the commander of africa command, general rodriguez, to engage with his nigerian counterparts alongside undersecretary sewell. their initial efforts have been to work with nigerian security personnel to analyze nigerian operations, identify gaps and short falls, and otherwise provide requested expeer tees
and information to the nigerian authorities including through the use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. we are also working closely with other international partners including the uk and france to coordinate multilateral actions and maximize our collective assistance efforts. mr. chairman, the threat to nigeria from boko haram has grown over the past five years and mutates day by day, extending its reach, increasing the sophistication and lee that willty of attacks and growing military capacity. these most recent attacks are especially unconsciousable because they were perpetrated against innocent girls. and because of the sheer scale of the attack in chibok. unfortunately these kidnappings are only the most recent outrages in a growing portfolio of attacks perpetrated by boko haram in its war against education. on july 6th, 2013, in an attack on the secondary school in
mamuto village 29 students were killed including reports that some were burned alive when their dormitory was deliberately set on fire. overnight between september 28th and 29th, 2013, upwards of 40 students were slaughtered in a nighttime attack on the yabay state college of agriculture. in yet another nighttime attack, this at the buniyadi federal government college in february of this year, at least 59 people including boys ranging in age from 11 to 18, were killed. the department has been deeply concerned for some time by how much the government of nigeria has struggled to keep pace with boko haram's growing lethality and capabilities. recognizing this threat and the need for nigeria to adopt a whole of government approach to defeating it, over the past several years, dod has undertaken a number of initiatives to assist nigeria in its counter-boko haram empts. for example, we have supported
the establishment of counter ied and civil military operations capacity within the nigerian army. we have also supported the establishment of an intelligence fusion center in an effort to promote information sharing among various national security entities. and overall to enable more effective and responsible intelligence driven counterterrorism operations. more recently, we have begun working with nigeria's newly reyited ranger battalion to impart the specialized skills and disciplines needed to mount effective counterterrorism operations. mr. chairman, as dedicated as the department of defense is to supporting nigeria in its fight against boko haram and in recovering these girls safely, we cannot ignore nigeria can be an extremely challenging partner to work with. in the face of this sophisticated threat nye jeer ja's security forces have been slow to adapt with new strategies, new doctrines and new tactics. even more troubling, nigeria's record of atrocities perpetrated by some of its security forces
during operations against boko haram have been widely documented. as we have advised the nigerians, consistent with u.s. law and policy, we review security force units who may receive assistance and we cannot and do not provide assistance when we have credible information that those units have committed gross violations of human rights. with this important consideration in mind, we have worked to engage where and how we are able to. in viewing our engagements and training efforts with human rights and law of armed conflict modules and emphasizing the importance of the broad counterinsurgency approach that we ourselves have spent so much blood and treasure fulfilling. indeed if this tragic episode is to end the way we all hope it will, nigeria's leaders must continue to match their public statements with a serious and focused response that draws on all elements of their government and makes maximum use of their resources international partners
are offering to them. this will not be an easy task. we are still seeking information on whether, where and how the girls may have been dispersed. but dod is committed to supporting nigeria in locating these girls and seeing them safely returned to their loved ones. thank you again for convening us here today and i look forward to your question skbls thank you, principal director friend. thank you so this panel for your testimony. i'd like to now begin questions in seven-minute rounds. i'll remind all of us we have a scheduled vote at 11:15 and following the second panel witness. if i might start, i'd just like to begin with a direct question to each of you. you've addressed this in longer form. but if i could just have in the interest of time concise and direct answer. when did your agency make its first offer of assistance after the kidnappings? what did that offer entail? what was the nigerian government's response? and what do you see as the real impediments towards the nigerians taking full advantage of the opportunities and resources we've offered? ambassador jackson? >> thank you, mr. chairman.
secretary kerry called president jonathan roughly two weeks ago today, made the offer, which president jonathan accepted with e lackrity. it involved intelligence collection and support. and other resources that i described in my testimony. >> assistant administrator gast. >> almost immediately after the incident the embassy and usa declared a state of emergency which allowed us to bring additional resources and assessment teams. that was one way. the second was our administrator almost immediately traveled after the incident, traveled to nigeria to meet with the government. as well as participate in other discussions. but certainly did focus on this issue. >> thank you. principal director friend? >> sir, the state department took the lead in making the initial offers. however, once the government of nigeria, in fact, accepted our offer of assistance, i believe that was on the 4th of may, the department had isr overflight by
the 9th of may. >> thank you. if i could, ambassador jackson, as you mentioned in your testimony in 2012 the state department deliberated over whether to designate boko haram as an organization, as a foreign terrorist organization or to designate top leaders, which indeed happened in 2012 and then the group as a whole as an fto the following year. what were the deimplications of designating those? why was -- why was there not initially unanimity around designating the whole organization? >> senator, the debate about whether to designate boko haram dates back many years. until at least 2011. and i think as former assistant secretary johnnie carson has explained in media interviews, the debate was really about the nigerian attitude toward
designation. the government of nigeria feared that designating these individuals and the organizations would bring them more attention, more publicity and be counterproductive. for some time, we accepted that point of view and the fact that the nigerians are only now asking the u.n. to designate them continues to reflect nigerian hesitancy over the impact of these designations. but we decided to move ahead in 2012, pre precisely because we were convinced they met the criteria for designation. >> if you would, assistant administrate gast, describe the strategy. the hearing that we conducted two years ago could almost literally be repeated today in terms of ongoing structural challenges that have led to this insurgency and have created the conditions and sustained -- in some ways accelerated the conditions for boko haram. >> as the principal deputy
assistant secretary mentioned in his testimony, there is a realization within the national security -- among the national security group, including the security adviser himself, that this is a major concern. and so there are two units within the national security adviser's office that are working on developing plans for the north. one, a massive, long, multiyear development program. another one that would help address the immediate concerns of security, community development. we're advising those two -- those two groups. and helping identify areas where we can assist in providing programming support. >> girls in nigeria and around the world are risking their lives every day just to get an education. usaid does deliver significant support for education opportunities and, in particular, for the inclusion of women and girls in education. but with a decline in usaid's
funding request for education programming, i'm concerned we may not have enough resources to do what we should and what we must in nigeria and elsewhere. usaid's support is predominantly focused in abow chi and sogota states. a small portion of the total north. please speak if you would for the strategy on how to continue to support education which really is the root cause for a lot of the violence. in this instance, the insistence on access to education for women. >> education has always been a robust element of our program support in nigeria. and if one were to look at the continent as a whole, the budget for education in nigeria represents about 10% of the entire education budget. so it is a significant contribution that we're making. the question is, are we placing the resources in the right areas? and certainly because of access issues, it's extremely difficult to program resources in the north.
we are working with the british development agency. and we believe we're very close to announcing a major effort to support education, primarily girls' education, secure education in the north. >> thank you. principal director friend, tell me more, if you would, about the counterterrorism partnership and what we've done regionally with other countries directly affected by boko haram, chad, niger, cameroon. if you would, just as a last question, you mentioned the gross human rights violations committed by some elements of the nigerian armed forces. we are still able to find units with which we can partner. and it is still possible for the nigerian military, police and security forces to take the lead in ensuring the return, the safe return of the nigerian schoolgirls. isn't that correct? >> yes, sir. i'll take those questions in reverse. that is correct. i mentioned in my testimony the ranger battalion that we will
begin training, in fact, this month. and pretraining programming has begun to laying the ground work for that. so we are able to find units inside the nigerian armed forces that, in fact, pass -- it is, however, a persistent and very troubling limitation on our ability to provide assistance, particularly training assistance, that the nigerians so badly need. this is one of the things that we've been talking to them about for quite some time. another recent engagement that was also interagency in nature was a counterinsurgency focused trip to nigeria, i believe, last fall, where we were urging them to take a more hoe list k approach up and down frankly much less brutal approach in the north against boko haram. to your question of the counterterrorism partnership, it is a state department-led effort. so i don't want to speak out of turn for mr. jackson. but i will say that in the
region, we have been working increasingly with the cameroonians and the nigerians and chadians to talk about the regional threat boko haram presents. some gi the border with cameroon and niger in particular is very pourous. we do know boko haram does operate back and forth across the international border particularly with cameroon. the cameroonian government and cameroonian president in particular have recently been taking boko haram even more seriously than previously. and we are working with them and with the nigerians and chadians to assist them and make sure these countries coordinate with each other. >> thank you very much. senator flake. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the testimony. ms. friend, with our cooperation or assistance to the military, to what extent is it complicated by some of the rules and
regulations we have about dealing with militaries that have human rights abuses lodged against them or have problems that way? what restrictions are we under and how does that limit our ability to work with them? >> so essentially, sir, under the leahy provision, any unit that we suspect of having committed gross human rights violations, we cannot provide military training or assistance to. the broader implications of your question, however, how much does it affect our engagement with nigeria, it affects it very much. we have struggled a great deal in the past to locate units that we can work with and, indeed, to convince the nigerians to change their tactics, techniques and procedures towards boko haram. another way that we are very, very careful to ensure that we are only providing assistance to those who will not use it in ways that may affect civilians or otherwise violate international human rights standards is our intel sharing.
though the sharing intelligence with a foreign government that is available -- intelligence that is available to dod would not normally be considered assistance subject to the leahy law, we are exceedingly cautious when it comes to sharing information with the nigerians because of their unfortunate record. in this case, for example, we have sought assurances from them that ambassador entwisle delivered a couple days ago that they will use any information we pass to them from this isr support in a manner consistent with international humanitarian and human rights law. >> so i understand it, we have a couple offish shoo us with the military. one, they've been using pretty brutal tactics and pretty brutal justice, if you will, with regard to boko haram in the north. but also there's some fear that some of its ranks are infiltrated with boko haram sympathizers. is that a concern as well? the latter? >> that's a concern, sir. i would say an even greater
concern is the incapacity of the nigerian military and the nigerian government's failure to provide leadership to the military in a way that changes these tactics. the division in the north that mainly is engaging with boko haram, the seventh division, has recently shown signs of real fear. they do not have the capabilities, the training or the equipment that boko haram does. and boko haram is exceptionally brutal and indiscriminate in their attacks. and so as heavy handed as the forces on the nigerian side have been, boko haram has been even more brutal. and so we're now looking at a military force that's quite frankly becoming afraid to even engage. and that's one of the things that we're talking to the military leadership in abuja about right now. about how to get the training and also the orientation of the forces under control so that they will feel more competent to face the threat.
>> the -- the military has declined in effectiveness in nigeria is really traced to fear that the political leadership has to military coup. that's been the pattern that's been followed around other countries as well. is that what you trace the decline to? and how -- is this political leadership now, this president and those around him, do they fear strengthening the military for that purpose fearing a coup later? what is the relationship right now between political leadership and the military? >> the relationship between the political leadership and the military itself is reasonably healthy. i do -- my understanding is that the weakening of the nigerian military does trace back a couple of decades, at least, to concerns about capability for a coup. at this point, that isn't a concern in nigeria.
another concern which my colleagues can also speak to is that the nigerian military has the same challenges with corruption that every other institution in nigeria does. much of the funding that goes to the nigerian military is skimmed off the top, if you will. >> assistant administrator gast, reports have been around for a while about kidnappings and whatnot in the north. let me just read from one report. for much of the past year boko haram's fighters have stocked the rugged hills of northeastern nigeria forcing teenage boys into their trucks as recruits and snatching teenage girls as sex slaves, said nigerian officials and analysts. villages and small towns in the northeast are dotted with parents who haven't seen their children in months. how aware has the state department been of this activity, and should we have been more aware of the events that might have told us that a kidnapping of this kind was
coming? >> so from a.i.d.'s perspective, i'll led deputy assistant secretary jackson address it from state, yes, we're very and individuals that can help promote dialogue between communities. unfortunately, the capacity of them to expand and go into more areas and reach more deeply into pockets of so side is somewhat limited. >> a.i.d. usually learns of these things because of the program you do with the local population there. mr. jackson, can you speak from state's perspective how aware
were we of these kind of kidnappings and this activity going on long before the school kidnapping? >> senator, we've been very aware. as ambassador of cameroon the last three years, i was witness to the kidnappings of french citizens there starting early last year and then that has expanded. we just had a third kidnapping earlier this year. the kidnappings are part of this larger strategy of terror and consistent with what the lord's resistance army has done in uganda. i think they are copying the tactics in some respects, which is why it's useful to have people with our military familiar with the lra's actics and attempt to apply that in nigeria. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to you and ranking member flake for holding the
hearing today. as i think we would all agree this kidnapping of these young girls in nigeria is horrible. it's outrageous. we are all in sympathy with their families and the community they came from. it's been interesting to me to see the outcry around the world as a result of these kidnappings. it sadly reminds us there are too many girls and women around the world who are threatened, who are, for young girls who are trying to get an education and better themselves. they are victims of violence. too many children are given as child brides, too many women are kidnapped and sold into slavery, sex trafficking, and we have got to do a better job, not only in
the united states but in the world in combatting these crimes. i know this week the international violence against women act was filed. again, i'm certainly hopeful that the full committee will take up this legislation and pass it because we can either allow women to continue to be victims of violence and ignorance and repression or we can act on behalf of our wives, our daughters, our granddaughters and make a change in the world that will benefit everyone. i wonder, and i'm not sure who to direct this question to. i understand that there have been a number of offers of assistance to nigeria, from france, from britain. i understand that israel and china have also offered to help. can someone describe the extent to which those offers are being
taken up and how the coordination is happening? >> senator, i would be happy to take that question. in fact, we have a fusion cell in the nigerian capital where the british, french, americans and nigerians are working together to develop the information that we have been able to gather through our various activities. we are also in touch with the israelis and the chinese to much lesser extent, but we are talking with them to find out what is being provided. i spoke with our team leader just before coming to this hearing. he's very satisfied with the cooperation and he's looking forward to expanding it this weekend when the regional leaders meet in paris. >> are there any muslim countries that have offered
assistance? >> a number of muslim countries have spoken out. certainly niger which is predominantly muslim offered its assistance as has chad. >> when you say a number have spoken out, to condemn what has happened? >> absolutely. the message that all the muslim leaders who have spoken out, whether religious leaders or political leaders have passed is that this is not about islam. i think that's a very important point. boko haram's philosophy is not an islamic philosophy. >> i agree and i'm glad you made that point. clearly, we need to make sure islam is not confused with some of these horrible terrorist acts that have been and continue to be perpetrated by terrorists
groups. mr. gast, can i ask you to elaborate on a question senator coons posed about what we are doing to help address women and girls in nigeria where 2/3 of women in northern nigeria receive no education, only one out of 20 women has a high school education, and where half of nigerianian women are reportedly married at age 15. can you talk to what more we can do to address the circumstances there and cooperate with those organizations in nigeria who share the values of trying to support getting an education for women? >> senator, i would be pleased to take your question. if one were to look at the development indicators between the north and south, it's almost looking at two different countries. that is one of the reasons why we are targeting a lot of our
assistance in health. a lot is targeted to the north, northwest as well as northeast, and for education, as well. education access freights are very low. in fact in comparison with the rest of the continent, also near the bottom. part of the problem is that educators themselves do not meet standards. less than 50% of the teachers in the north do not meet the federal standards. so we're helping the ministry with teachers training. we are also helping with access to education. the problem is there are many problems and impediments along the way. one is security. we don't want to do harm. we don't want to, in a very insecure environment which we know boko haram is operating and they are targeting girls, we don't want to encourage girls to don't want to encourage girls to
... l alternative ways. at-home education, radio education, things of that sort. we are also very focused and we are supporting the government's program of saving one million lives which is targeted toward maternal mortality and child mortality. again, both of those programs are in the north. >> and i guess this is probably for mr. jackson, but do you expect or do we expect either state or d.o.d. to request additional funding to help the situation in nigeria? >> senator, that is an excellent question. i think we'll have to see how the operation evolves and how quickly we are able to develop good intelligence based on our overflights and we'll get back to you. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator shaheen. before i turn to senator rubio, i want to remind all of us we
have a scheduled 11:15 vote. we have a second witness waiting to participate live from nigeria and we'll do what questions we can of her after hearing her opening statement. senator rubio. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all for being here today and for your attention to this horrifying crime that's been committed. ambassador jackson, from your testimony, from much of the media reporting on this, the perception is being created and i wanted to ask you, is the prime motivator here of this instance in your opinion, is the prime motivator the desire to deny young womac saccess to education and empowerment? >> i think the prime motivator is to raise more funds for boko haram through a ransom. the fact boko haram.
>> this is motivated by an anti-christian attitude of this group. i want to read you comments from the leader of boko haram. i'm sure you're aware of it because the whole world has seen it, a gloatesque statement. it concludes by saying, "to the people of the world, everybody should know his tat yus. you are with mujahadin or with the christians. it's a jihad war against christians and christianity, a war against western education, democracy and constitution. we have not started. next time we are going inside and to a refinery and town of christians. do you know me? i have no problem with jonathan. this is a war against christians and democracy and their constitution. allah says we should finish them when we get them." i don't think there is any doubt one of their leading motivators here. there is no doubt this is a part of it, but this is not just
about girls going to school around raising money. there is a strong anti-chris tin element of this organization. >> there is a strong anti-christian element. i would offer that more the thousands of people who died as a result of boko haram's activities are muslim than christian. >> again, i think when you commit these horrifying atrocities you're going to target numerous people. from the various statement he said we should not ignore the fact there is a religious persecution aspect of this that is very significant and deserves attention, especially in light of what we are seeing, not just in this part of the world but multiple areas of the world where we are seeing horrifying instances of religious persecution against christians, which in my opinion has been underreported. would you agree this is one such instance which anti-christian motivations are strong component of what drives this organization to target? for example, my understanding is
according to one pastor, nigerian evangelist, most of the 200 plus school girls kidnapped are christians. anti-christianity is a strong motivators in this effort. >> senator, i respectfully suggest while anti-christian sentiment is a strong motivator, the fact of the matter is boko haram is trying to portray its philosophy as being a muslim philosophy, and that's just not accurate. >> officely it is a radical philosophy dressed up in a perversion of the tenets of a faith they claim to adhere to. i'm not claiming this is somehow driven by legitimate teachings of islam. i'm arguing there is a strong anti-christian element to this and it is part of a broader anti-christian persecution that we are seeing repeatedly
throughout the world. would you disagree with that statement? >> i do not disagree, but i continue to want to emphasize that boko haram terrorizes all people. >> i don't think that's in dispute. my question is just from the very statement i have read here to you today, clearly he has featured christianity as a key component that motivates who they are targeting and why they are targeting them. >> they are. if i may take the example of the school girls. 85% of the school girls kidnapped were christian. the other 15% were muslim, but they are all hostages. >> okay. i think we would stipulate there are nonchristians being impacted by this and its horrifying just as well. a crime against muslim is is no worse than -- it is no less worse or less bad than a crime against christians. what i'm trying to put forward here is we cannot continue to ignore that persecution of
christians is a leading motivators not just of what's happening in boko haram and other parts of the world, but in this instance they are clearly motivated by anti-christian attitudes and ante christian beliefs. i don't think that is debatable given their own statement. in your opinion in hindsight, i know hindsight is 20/20, was it a mistake not to designate this organization as a terrorist organization earlier? >> senator, as i explained, i think we had a healthy debate. we are respectful of the nigerian attitude. boko haram and the fear of designating the organization would bring it more publicity, in retrospect, we might have done it earlier. i think the important thing is we have done it and we've offered a reward for the leadership of boko haram's rockies. >> for future reference, do you think there is a lesson here when we make decisions about designating groups as terrorists, it shouldn't simply
be -- either you're a terrorist group or not and in the future we should not so heavily rely upon some government's input with regards to whether an organization that happens to be operating within their territory should be designated or no. >> i think there is definitely a lesson here. i think we will be quicker to act to make designations based on our own assessments earlier on based on this. >> my last question has to do with a broader theme regard to the risks of global jihadists and terrorists at-large. there was a narrative not long ago al qaeda was on the run. it was dissipating. in fact a new risk has emerged. want to rely on the testimony of director clapper before the senate committee of intelligence where i sit. decentralization of al qaeda movement led to new power centers and increase in threats by networks of like-minded
extremists to multiple groups to which it's clear aqm, there appears to be some links and ties or some elements with boko haram. my question is what do we know at this point about that? do we have any indications we can reveal in a setting of this magnitude this type that this is a group whose aspirations potentially involve attacks outside of nigerian territory against western interests, either elsewhere in africa or potentially in europe in the western world? what do we know about that at this stage? >> we definitely determined there are links between al qaeda and boko haram. they probably provided at least training, perhaps financial support. more importantly to the second part of your question, boko haram has become a regional threat. it's kidnapped a french family in cameroon. it's most recently kidnapped a
canadian priest, a canadian nun and two italian priest and kidnapped a french priest several months ago who was liberated. this is an organization that is becoming an international threat and needs to be dealt with through international cooperation. >> i have a 15-second follow-up, mr. chairman. is it fair to begin to hold -- is it fair to hold this group up as yet another example of what secretary clapper was talking about when he said the decentralization of al qaeda and emergence of these different groups and regions poses the new face of the al qaeda threat in the 21st century. this is one more example of those types of groups popping up in different parts of the world and pose a different challenge in nature from the al qaeda we confronted during the 9/11 pierce? >> senator, yes. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator rubio.
chairman mendez has returned. >> thank you very much. what is in a banking mark-up, but appreciate the opportunity. let me ask you, mr. secretary, it is my understanding that nigeria has not been cooperative with us in our efforts to designate boko haram as a terrorist group at the united nations. is that the case? >> until very recently, they were reluctant to designate them at the united nations. this week, their permanent representative did consult with the security council about designation. i expect that will happen imminently. >> we finally got them to see the light. it's a shame that it took the abduction of 300 girls to get them to understand they should have joined us at the united nations. you said consulted. does that mean they are going to support us in our designation of
the united nations? >> yes, senator. we have been informed they will work with us and other security council to designate boko haram with the united nations. >> that is good all around. even though the day i fear may cause challenges to getting each and every one of these girls back, that's our goal. that's why i sent a letter to president jonathan calling him on demonstrating leadership. what is your level of confidence that that the nigerian government after an indefensible delay now has the political will and military capacity to ensure a swift and effective response that utilizes international support to the fullest and is in line with human right standards? >> i'll answer the political will department and defer to our
colleague. we do believe that the political will now exists. president jonathan seized with the issue. i just learned this morning he is on his way to visit the school and meet with the families of the kidnapped girls. >> mr. senator, if i may, after the social media campaign was under way in earnest, we found in our engagements with the nigerian military an unprecedented level of access and frankness with them. our impression from the department of defense is that they are quite certainly for the first time in recent memory taking this threat very seriously and engaging with us very seriously. >> i see we are spending a significant amount of money engaging them in terms of creating a capacity. i also see what happened at the school and notice they had and lack of response. the question is what is their
capacity? i accept president jonathan has now seized because of international outrage and is willing to do something, if we were to share at some point intelligence, assuming we had it and came upon it and could have actionable intelligence, what is their capacity to execute such an effort? >> senator, we don't know what kind of situation we are facing. we can't isolate particular courses of military actions that might be appropriate for the rescue of the girls because we don't know where they are. there are two anxious as to your question. one is their capacity overall to handle the threat from boko haram to take defensive measures as you alluded to, at the school. there was also a recent prison break equivalent. that was virtually undefended by the nigerian military. again, as i spoke of earlier,
the nigerian military in the north has significant capacity challenges. our aim right now is to support them as much as possible to get them training in assistance where possible. >> here's my problem. we are going to support them as much as possible, but if we found actionable intelligence that identified where a large part where all the girls are, and we do not believe or we don't know if they have the capacity to act on it what good will that be? >> i can't speculate on that, senator. i don't want to give you speculative information. >> i need you to go back to the department and bring back a better answer than that. it is impossible to fathom we may have actionable intelligence and we may not have the wherewithal, either by the nigerians themselves or by other entities helping the nigerians
to be able to conduct a rescue mission. so all of this would be worthless unless we know the nigerians are capable of executing or in the absence of their ability to execute, then we have some other efforts of support to be able to effectuate an effective rescue. i would like you to go back to the department at whatever level is necessary to give the committee a better answer than that. otherwise some of us will question all of our efforts if they cannot be executed. >> sir, as we gather more information with the nigerians, we would be happy to come back and talk to you. >> i would like, yes, from the nigerians, but i want to know our own assessment. i want to have the department of defense's assessment as to what would be the capacity of the nigerian military and/or security to effectuate a rescue mission assuming that opportunity unveils itself. we are not going to wait until
finding out we have actionable intelligence and find out we don't have the capacity to do this. >> i would be happy to come back to with you that information, sir. >> we are trying to work out the logistics of a vote that is about to be called and second panel witness, senator cardin has questions of this panel. i'm going to invite senator cardin to question this panel. senator flake and i are going to go to the floor, cast our votes and come promptly back. senator cardin will transition to the introduction of our witness if we are not back within seven minutes. >> i don't expect to take seven minutes. i'll keep moving. >> we'll keep it as quickly as we can. >> i understand the challenges as the chair pointed out. the floor has a series of votes
starting at 11:15. i will do my best to keep things moving along. i was following the hearing from the broadcast, had some conflicts in my office. this is a matter of urgency globally, as i think has been expressed here. these nigerian girls were not in the wrong place at the wrong time. they were in the right place at the right time what happened there is beyond description. this is not a u.s. interest, this is a humanitarian global interest. united states has certain unique capabilities. the international community has capabilities. we are not yet clear as to the capacity of what the nigerian government can do. we do believe that the international focus on this issue has given greater strength to the nigerian government to
take the appropriate steps for the safe return of the girls. i was listening to the comments of my colleagues, and i know it's frustrating when we know how long these girls have been under captive. i guess my only observation, not so much as a question, this is not about what we read in the paper. this is about getting the girls back safely. this is not about u.s. or the u.s. being visible or invisible. it's about getting the girls home safely. we want to do everything we possibly can in that regard. there's also the issue generally in nigeria how they handle opposition, how they handle stability in their own country, which is of a concern to the united states. what i think most of us are concerned about is we don't want
the safety of these girls confused with the outrageous terrorist acts and that there is any legitimacy to this whatsoever. i think that is a point that is not just u.s. interest but humanitarian global interest around the world. it's that balance that we're seeking. how can we be constructive and how can we be forceful in helping bring back these girls safely? i thank you all for your testimonies today. we know these are difficult, anxious moments, but we want to be as constructive as we possibly can. we want to be very clear about the outrageous conduct of the terrorists that go beyond the pale of anything any of us can imagine. and we recognize that this is a global matter that the nigerians must handle, but they should seek help from the international community and we are available
with the international community. thank you very much. i now invite up miss natanh aa.n >> hello? members of the senate, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. hello. >> we hear you fine. can you hear us? >> oh, good. good morning. chairman coons, ranking member flake, members of the committee, thank you for convening this important and timely meeting and for giving me the opportunity to speak today. i thank honorable mr. jackson
and honorable ms. friend for your testimonies. i thank you for your commitment and effort to help respond to the crisis in our country. my name is lantana abdullah. i work with violence prevention in nigeria. the testimony reflects my own views and informed by my experiences first as a mother with five children, a nigerian and peace builder. i will speak of the evidence that brought us today because of the crisis and practical recommendations. you will all recall that today marks the 30th day that is over 200 christian and muslim girls were abducted from their school in north nigeria. this means a whole generation
is, frankly, at risk. this is only one of many attacks which boko haram claimed responsibility. the group was created in 2002 with the sole proposal of imposing islamic law throughout nigeria. so far the attack s have claime more than 2,000 people to date and displaced tens of thousands of people, and more than 10 million people are currently at risk if you combine the population. in addition to one of the comments made about the goal of boko haram, about their anti-christianity stance, i want to say of course it is a reply to pit christians and muslims against each other, and of course seek sympathy amongst muslims.
this abduction just serves as a sad reminder of the long-standing challenges at play in nigeria that may also produce a negative impact throughout the greater region. currently, the lack of information on the current level of response from the government and forces is a great source of worry for many nigerians. nigerians are also very much frustrated by the history and current level of corruption in the government associated, of course, with bad governors and impunity. boko haram, corruption is the result of democracy. western import that has failed. this description is in the group efforts. another nigeria asked me has been historically disadvantaged. in comparison to the south, boko
haram took advantage of this to make heroes with the population by offering food, shelter and education. we must also acknowledge the nature of our borders, where violence has originated and allowed boko haram to traffic victims as well as escape persecution by seeking refuge abroad. we have all been deeply torched by the attention of the girls' kidnapping. i think there is still more to be done to end this crisis. there is an underground response. it will be a short-term gain ensuring lasting peace in the region requires the issue to be addressed from multiple angles and engagement of all stake holders to prevent future atrocities. despite the escalation of boko
haram violent actions, there are few reasons for hopeful. we have witnessed a decrease in attacks, especially coming from regions like central nigeria and particularly where i come from. during periods of insurgency, victims appeal to own communitys to regain retribution. we've seen more and more christians and muslims working together as seen by the "bring back our girls" movement. and driven of course by nigerians. in the past there has been international cooperation. the world economy for africa hosted in nigeria have created an opportunity for u.s. and foreign technical assistance. with this in mind, i would want to make four recommendations. there is a need for humanitarian assistance and support to
prevent further marginalization of the populations who are at ri risk. there is urgent need for support to victims of violence in northeast nigeria. other recommendations support regional approach like all weaknesses have said, there is a need to have regional collaboration between nigeria and its neighbors. particularly cameroon. securing the borders will limit illegal activities. we need also to support a robust community for improving human security. how do we ensure communities also engaged in this? we also need to prevent a monetary humanitarian abuse is by security forces. more importantly, we know that the level and presence of military in locations have also
increased the level of violations of human rights of citizens. we need to build this effort. nass much as we want to concentrate on the current crisis, particularly on the boko haram terrorist activities, we shouldn't also forget the issue s of the upcoming elections. i would like to close with a personal story. three years ago i was at a wedding. boko haram. soon as i arrived, i heard multiple explosions, serving as a painful reminder of the violence affecting the residents. you could not move freely even with the current celebrations was made because of the lack of security. it is warm to my heart to see how resilient my family were as well as friends and neighbors.
despite the terror, women still went to the market and children went to school. i strengthen my commitment as a peace builder to ensure all nigerians, christians and muslims can walk together and live free of fear. i tell you this story to remind you that my experience is not unique. millions of other people throughout north eastern nigeria are affected by this violence. i hope my testimony today represents them all. i also want to thank the senate for this opportunity to speak and showing interest and support to overcome these challenges. in particular, i also wish to appreciate and thank the american people for joining the global movement to bring back our girls and end terrorism. we must continue in this spirit until the war is won.
thank you and i await your questions. >> thank you very much for your testimony. lantana abdullah, we are grateful for you joining us today. you experienced so much as someone from the north and advocate for peace-building. advocate for peace-building. ... life, the community around you in the north, and what message would you like to send to the perpetrators of these vicious attacks? >> i think i want to talk first as a muslim. i want to say the activities of boko haram mostly affected those in nigeria. we've been left to talk about defending our faith and educating us as boko haram do not present islam and do not represent interests of muslims in nigeria.
of course, coming from where we are, we are dealing with other conflicts in other locations like the north central region where we are dealing with ethnic and religious conflict. boko haram has also taken advantage of trying to perpetrate some of the terrorist activities in some of these locations. it is taking a lot of our efforts to make sure we localize the contacts and not allow boko haram to hijack the process and work we are doing in nigeria. >> thank you. as you know, many americans have taken to the internet to express their outrage to boko haram and their support for safely returning for bringing back the girls. today's hearing is an expression in part of american concern and solidarity and commitment to support the families and the girls. what message do you have for us, for the u.s. government and the
american people, as we consider what more we could do to support peace and security in nigeria? >> i think very importantly we want to acknowledge the american people and government for coming to our rescue at this moment. we know of the military in america and nigerian government. of course the support from the nigerian government for such support, but we still believe the time is now to act. we need to look at nonmilitary support from the american government, particularly when looking at economy-driven, peace-building strategies and approach to also consolidate. we need to do that, but more importantly, we need to acknowledge that the region is one of the most backwards region
in nigeria. there is a weak media presence, a weak society presence. we need to actually push to empower communities to speak their voice, not to allow some people or institutions to speak for them. that's where we are actually pushing to see how we can have community level driven radio stations. at this moment, there is actually no license, the government is not issuing such license, but we think the time has come to have community regions to walk with young girls and women. >> thank you for those comments. >> if you could tell us what others in addition to the radio conversation that your organization, the organization for which your work search common ground has taken, and as a peace-builder, what are the most important steps you have taken to encourage reconciliation and dialogue
amongst the communities in the north. what are the most positive steps you have seen so far? and what recommendations do you have for us about how we can best support peace-building efforts in the north. >> as you know, common ground is an organization that is very innovative. it needs peace-building efforts around the world that. innovation and uniqueness is what we have to do with conflicts in many parts of nigeria. currently, we are working basically more in the middle belt region trying to bring ethnic groups together to look at their common grounds values and to work on their differences. we are also of course supporting the federal government to work on the military problem and stability in the niger delta region. we would be supporting communities to seek dialogue over their differences, using their own local initiatives.
also empowering more skills and knowledge particularly on conflict transmission to deal with those issues constructively. >> thank you, lantana. i'm going to yield to senator flake so he also has an opportunity to ask questions before we must return for our next vote. thank you so much for your testimony today. senator flake? >> thank you. i'm sorry if i'm asking questions already answered. with regard to the government's response to what's going on in the north, have there been any initiatives by the government that have been effective in diminishing the attractiveness of boko haram for recruiting or for their activities? is the government winning this battle or not at this point? >> over 200 young girls can actually be abducted right in
the presence of the nigerian government and remain missing for 30 days, it means we have lost in some way. it's obvious there is still lack of capacity to actually deal with the problem. it also seems at the advent of the boko haram in 2002, the government were not actually prepared to actually deal with the issue. of course, they have for us most nigerians, there have been many allies, many arguments about the position of government on using just being military offensive to deal with the boko haram is to suggest instead of trying to address some of the root causes brought about boko haram in the first instance. we had some announcements by the government to try to provide sustainable and you know, address some of the life and
concerns of the region, to address widespread poverty and the low educational level and political marginalization of the region. of course, we've also not seen anything happening in regard to the money meant for that. >> one other question. i think we were struck here at the international community was struck with how slow the nigerian government reacted to these kidnappings. does that suggest they simply aren't ready and willing to address the issues, whether the root causes or more immediate concerns? and are they only acting because the international community is putting pressure on them now? >> i think they are slow
responding to the crisis and have knowledge of nigerians that have been coming out to actually push and talk about the current crisis. of course there have been many push by the international community to come in and support. the government were very skeptical. they are very slow in accepting these offers. i think nigerians have actually pushed for that. we've seen it happening now and we hope apart from just wanting the girls released and work beyond the abduction to address the root causes. >> thank you. i turn it back to the chairman. >> thank you for your participation. we really appreciate you doing this. >> thank you so much. >> ms. abdullah, if you have closing comments you would like to make us to, we have to go back to the senate floor in just a moment for another vote. i