Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic extremist group, has killed more people in the name of jihad than the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the findings of a new report. Since 2000, when twelve Northern Nigerian states began implementing or more fully enforcing Islamic sharia law, «between 9,000 to 11,500 Christians» have been killed. This is «a conservative estimate.»
In addition, «1.3 million Christians have become internally displaced or forced to relocate elsewhere,» and «13,000 churches have been closed or destroyed altogether.» Countless «thousands of Christian businesses, houses and other property have been destroyed.»
The report alludes to a number of other factors that connect the growth of the Nigerian jihad to the growth of the global jihad. The rise of anti-Christian, Islamic supremacism
«did not emerge in Northern Nigeria until the 1980s, when Nigerian scholars and students returned from Arabic countries influenced by Wahhabi and Salafist teaching. Each year, thousands of West African Muslims get free scholarships to pursue their studies in the Sunni Arab countries; this has had a major impact on Nigerian culture.»
This «major impact» is not limited to Nigeria. Saudi Arabia annually spends over $100 billion disseminating «Wahhabi and Salafist teaching» — or what growing numbers of Muslims refer to as «true Islam». They also do so through European mosques and those in the United States. Behind the radicalization of ISIS, Boko Haram, and Lone Wolf Muslims, stand America’s best Muslim friends and allies.
Another important finding from the report is that,
«Not just radical Islam, Boko Haram being the most notable example, but also Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen and the Northern Muslim political and religious elite are also major actors of targeted violence towards the Christian minority.»
Most recently, on March 2, Nigerian human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe sent an email saying: «I arrived Nigeria a few days ago to investigate what appears to be the worst massacre by Muslim [Hausa-Fulani] herdsmen… Over 500 Christian villagers were slain in one night.»
Similarly, according to a West African source, «Once Boko Haram is defeated, the problem will not be solved. Christians living under Sharia law are facing discrimination and marginalization and have limited to no access to federal rights.»
The report finally finds that much of the anti-Christian violence derives from the historical «migration of Muslims into non-Muslim territories in northern Nigeria to promote the Islamic religious and missionary agenda in all parts of northern Nigeria.» In other words, what Christians in Nigeria are experiencing is a live snapshot of what millions of Christians and other non-Muslims have experienced since the seventh century, when Islam «migrated» to their borders: violence, persecution, enslavement, and the destruction of churches.
All of these findings contradict the Obama Administration’s official narrative concerning the unrest in Nigeria. For years, the administration refused to list Boko Haram — which has slaughtered more Christians and «apostates» than even ISIS — as a terrorist organization. It finally did so in November 2013, after several years of pressure from lawmakers, human rights activists, and lobbyists.
Even so, the Obama Administration refuses to associate Boko Haram — an organization that defines itself in purely Islamic terms — with Islam, just as it refuses to associate the ISIS with Islam. Although Boko Haram and its allies have yet to miss a year when they do not bomb or burn several churches during the Christmas or Easter celebrations, on Easter Day, 2012, after the organization had murdered 39 Christian worshippers, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said: «I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence» in the Muslim-majority north.
So what is? The administration attributes to Boko Haram the same motivation it attributes to the Islamic State — or as President Bill Clinton once memorably put it in a reference to Boko Haram’s murder campaign: «inequality» and «poverty» are «what’s fueling all this stuff.»
That assessment is similar to the Obama Administration’s claim that «a lack of opportunity for jobs» is what created ISIS; or CIA John Brennan’s claim that the jihadi ideology the world over is «fed a lot of times by, you know, political repression, by economic, you know, disenfranchisement, by, you know, lack of education and ignorance, so there — there are a number of phenomena right now that I think are fueling the fires of, you know, this ideology.»
Appeasing the jihadis has been the administration’s policy, or in the words of Clinton’s advice to the Nigerian government: «[I]t is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence.» Countless decapitated Christian heads later, when Nigerian forces killed 30 Boko Haram members in a particularly powerful offensive carried out in May 2013, Reuters reported that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry «issued a strongly worded statement» to the Nigerian president: «We are … deeply concerned,» he said, «by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn, only escalate the violence and fuel extremism» from Boko Haram.
Christian life in Muslim-majority areas of Nigeria is merely a microcosm of Christian life in Muslim-majority nations around the world. Christians are being persecuted and killed, their churches banned, burned or bombed. Thanks to Saudi petrodollars, the men behind the persecution are almost always «influenced by Wahhabi and Salafist teaching,» and include not just «extremists,» but also the «political and religious elite.» In all cases, the Obama Administration looks the other way, while insisting that the jihad is a product of «inequality,» «poverty» and «a lack of opportunity for jobs» — never of Islamic teaching.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (a Gatestone Publication, published by Regnery, April 2013), is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.