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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 16, 2014 2:00am-4:01am EDT

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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ thro' the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ were so gallantly streaming ♪ and the rocket's red glare ♪ ♪ the bombs bursting in air
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♪ gave proof thro' the night ♪ ♪ that our flag ♪ was still there ♪ o say does that star-spangled ♪ banner yet wave ♪ o'er the land of the free ♪ and the home of the brave
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good morning. i'd like to call to order this hearing. the subcommittee of the senate foreign relations committee.
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good morning. exactly one month ago today, extremists in northern nigeria abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in an unconsciousable act of terror. the leaders of the group responsible, boko haram, are selling the girls into marriages, forcibly converting them to islam and using them as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the nigerian government. it's believed the girls are today being held in a dense tropical forest area roughly the size of west virginia that straddles a porous and ungoverned border with three countries. despite being forewarned of a possible attack, reports indicate the loek and central government did nothing to protect them when told an attack was imminent. parents should not have to be afraid to send their children to school. no child should live through the horror these girls have experienced. and no family should have to confront these threats alone. unfortunately, these are not the only families who've suffered at the hands of boko haram p p the same day as these abductions 75 more consider willed and 100 wounded at a bombing in a bus
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station in the nigerian capital city of abuja. more than 300 people were murdered in a boko haram attack last week. boko haram has killed over 1,500 people in the last year alone. i want to welcome my partner in the africa subcommittee, senator flake, as well as chairman me men does, ranking member corker and other members, as we look at these kidnappings and the growing threat by boko haram. when we looked at the persistent divides between the north and south and economic potential, governance, education and social services and the very real security challenges created by these differences. nigeria is an important partner in the region, but boko haram has capitalized on pervasive corruption, poor governance and growing poverty in the north to undermine domestic and regional stability. boko haram whose name means western education is sinful targets public institutions, churches and schools.
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and children are the frequent victims of its vicious attacks. as new york times 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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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-- 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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,
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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 go to schools. so we are looking at alternative
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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
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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.
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>> 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
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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
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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.
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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
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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


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