Saturday, May 10, 2014

A perfect trap: Hillary, Boko Haram and American intelligence

A few days ago, Josh Rogin published his much-discussed piece attacking Hillary Clinton for not placing Boko Haram on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

Boko Haram is the Nigerian group which has committed a wave of vicious bombings and assassinations, including the kidnapping of 276 girls. The actual name of this group is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad); "Boko Haram" is a shortened name in Hausa, as explained here. The founder of the group was a man named Muhammed Yussef; his aim was to impose "pure" Shariah law on the state.

Our mainstream reporters have pretty much ignored this group, just as they ignore nearly everything else that happens in Africa. But when Rogin came up with a way to use the mass kidnapping as a cudgel against Clinton, even CNN dropped its missing jet obsession and started talking about Nigeria. Here's Rogin:
What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate.
"Former senior U.S. official"? Given Rogin's ties to the right, my suspicions go to David Petraeus, the former CIA head ousted as a result of a (rather silly) sex scandal. Of course, former FBI Director Robert Mueller and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who also once headed the CIA) also fit the description.

Boko Haram certainly has a bloody history. So why didn't Hillary Clinton put it on the terrorist list?

The Nigerian government opposed that designation, even though Boko Haram seeks to overthrow that very government. Why? For one reason, placing the organization on the official terrorist list causes added stress to Nigerian passport holders traveling abroad. Moreover, some zealots regard the "Foreign Terrorist Organization" label as a sort of status symbol; thus, the group might attract more recruits.

There are other factors: Boko Haram, until recently, was a purely Nigerian problem, posing little threat outside the borders of that country. It's also a somewhat amorphous entity, without any clear structure; some claim that it is actually an umbrella term for a number of smaller groups. It also seems likely that unaffiliated murderers have used Boko Haram as cover for their crimes.

Think Progress has more:
Scholars on Twitter who focus on the region, terrorism broadly, and Islamist groups in particular were quick to point out that not only were there few benefits and many possible costs to designation, many of them had argued against listing Boko Haram several years ago. In a letter to the State Department dated May 2012, twenty prominent African studies scholars wrote Clinton to implore her to hold off on placing Boko Haram on the FTO list.
From the scholars' aforementioned letter to Clinton:
Should Boko Haram be designated an FTO through this regime, it would be illegal for non-governmental organizations to interact with members of Boko Haram – even if the purpose of such contact was to persuade them to renounce violence. The US Supreme Court upheld these restrictions in 2010, declaring that such contact would constitute providing “material support” to terrorist groups. Commenting on the threat this poses to the Carter Center, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said this legal restriction “threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence.”
But there's a deeper level to this story: Many Nigerians believe that Boko Haram itself has links to the CIA.

Since Nigeria has substantial oil deposits and is making deals with Russia and China, instability could serve American interests. If all-out war broke out between the Christians of the south of Nigeria and the Muslims of the north, those deals would end. A resource-rich country -- a nation on the edge of prosperity, a nation favoring the BRICS power bloc -- might soon become an ungovernable failed state.

Anyone who wanted such an outcome would, of course, want to make sure that Boko Haram was alive and kicking.

In 2012, the invaluable Global Research published an analysis by Nile Bowie:
Boko Haram receives funding from different groups from Saudi Arabia and the UK, specifically from the Al-Muntada Trust Fund, headquartered in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s Islamic World Society...

Moreover Boko Haram has ties to two Al-Qaeda affiliated organizations namely Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), both of which were supported covertly by Western intelligence and NATO (during the war on Libya).
Well, that brings us to the hidden history of the Libyan revolution -- too large a topic for this post. (But do recall what we said previously about the CIA-supported militias in Benghazi: They were helping the Agency to funnel Libyan weapons to the Syrian rebels, who also have Al Qaeda links. By the way, Corrente has a fascinating Benghazi piece up today.)

The above-quoted article claims that none other than Zbigniew Brzezinski has set the goal of inflaming a civil war in Nigeria. I'm not exactly a big Zbig fan, as you know. But I still won't accept that assertion without verification.
Following the mass exodus of Chinese business interests during the Libyan conflict, a shattered Nigeria would ultimately create conditions where China’s growing cooperation with Abuja can be challenged and ultimately, disrupted. China has provided extensive economic, military and political support to Nigeria, an important source of oil and petroleum for Beijing.
I know what you're wondering right now: If CIA has had any interactions with Boko Haram, why did the Agency advise labeling the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (according to Rogin)? Well, if such a request was indeed made, perhaps we can file it under the heading "CYA." Or perhaps Boko is being aided not by CIA but by some other intelligence group located within the Defense Department.

I would also note that there is ample historical precedent proving that American intelligence operatives sometimes do business with very unsavory people and organizations.

The most obvious example would be the Iran-contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration covertly sold arms to the Iranians -- an action which nearly all Americans at the time would have considered unthinkable. (Imagine how much more difficult aid to the contras would have been if they had been put on the FTO list -- which is where, in my opinion, they damned well belonged.)

More recently, America has allowed the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen-e-Khalq -- which is on the official terrorist list -- to train in Nevada. It's obvious that the aid given to MEK has been substantially hampered by the fact that they have received the Foreign Terrorist Organization designation by the State Department.

A couple of days ago, Global Research published another look at Nigeria, titled "Humanitarian Intervention” in Nigeria: Is the Boko Haram Insurgency Another CIA Covert Operation? Wikileaks." The author belongs to a Nigerian citizen's group which calls itself the GreenWhite coalition. (The name derives from the colors of the Nigerian flag.)

To be honest, this report is amateurish, alarmist, and unpersuasive. Nevertheless, it deserves our attention, if only because it offers suggestions for further investigation. Caveat lector and all that, but do read:
We have already been regaled with reports provided by Wikileaks which identified the US embassy in Nigeria as a forward operating base for wide and far reaching acts of subversion against Nigeria which include but not limited to eavesdropping on Nigerian government communication, financial espionage on leading Nigerians, support and funding of subversive groups and insurgents, sponsoring of divisive propaganda among the disparate groups of Nigeria and the use of visa blackmail to induce and coerce high ranking Nigerians into acting in favour of US interests.

But beyond what we know from the Wikileaks report, what many Nigerians do not know is that the US embassy’s subversive activities in Nigeria fits into the long term US government’s well camouflaged policy of containment against Nigeria the ultimate goal of which is to eliminate Nigeria as a potential strategic rival to the US in the African continent.
I have not seen this Wikileaks report -- and I've looked for it. (Can you find it?)
In December 2011 an Algerian based CIA wing gave out 40 million Naira as a planned Long term partnership with Boko Haram with PLEDGE TO DO MORE.

On June 29, 2009 a United States cable leaked by wikileaks showed that the CIA public predicted the onslaught of deadly terrorist attack by Boko Haram, i.e even 2 months before boko haram started terrorist actions.

Disregarding advices from experts the us armed Saudi Arabia who in turned armed Libyan rebels that in turn armed Malian rebels and Boko Haram, a chain tactically predicted by the CIA.
Again, we need substantiation for these claims.
it is also important to note the “miraculous escape of Kabiru Sokoto” from a secret top security facility whose location was known to the CIA.
The well-educated Kabiru Sokoto, a key member of Boko Haram, has been accused of involvement in various bombings. His escape from custody has been attributed to Boko Haram sympathizers in the Nigerian security structure. (See here and here.)

Let's get back to the recent Global Research piece:
But how did a ragtag collection of largely half literate unsophisticated persons operating mostly on Okada transform literally overnight to being able to design, manufacture and deploy bombs in buildings and in vehicles costing in excess of a million naira and carry out attacks in several locations around the country???
A very fair question, I would say.
For some time now, the CIA has been running secret training and indoctrination camps along the porous and vulnerable borderlands of Niger, Chad and Cameroon. At these camps youths from poor, deprived and disoriented backgrounds are recruited and trained to serve as insurgents. The agents who supply these youth lure them with the promise of better life and work of Allah and further indoctrinated to believe they are working to install a just Islamic order from the ungodly one that currently holds sway in Nigeria.

The American CIA programme officers of this project prudently remain in the background, living the day to day running of the camps to supervisors of Middle Eastern origin specially recruited for this purpose. After several months of indoctrination and training on weapons handling, survival tactics, surveillance and evasion techniques, the insurgents are now put on stand by for the next phase of the operation.
The next phase of the operations involves the identification and selection of the targets which had already been mapped out by the American Embassy. If buildings are the targets for attack, the weapons and technical equipment to be used are kept in safe houses.

The countdown to the attack involves ferrying of the insurgents and quarantine at safe houses for the H hour. After the attack, in the ensuing panic, the insurgents make their escape into safe houses to dispose the weapons and disappear and dissolve later into the local population. The technical angle of sending out e-mails and messages of responsibility for the attack to the media in the name of Boko Haram is done through secure telecoms equipment by the American programmers of the operation which can hardly be traced.
These are large and important claims. No, I don't see any proof. Yes, I think that the writer may be motivated by a desire to fix blame for an internal problem on an external source.

Then again...
It is neither a coincidence nor guesswork that the National Intelligence Council of the United States Government estimated that Nigeria will disintegrate by the year 2015. The whole report actually is a coded statement of intentions on how using destabilization plots the US plans to eventually dismember Nigeria.
That report does exist. I can certainly understand why a Nigerian would worry that a CIA "prediction" might actually signify a goal.
The whole goal of the destabilization campaign is to ensure that Nigeria is weakened internally by intractable crises leading up to 2015 when the next general elections are expected to come up. By that year there will be so much mutual suspicion among Nigerians that the elections itself might not hold or if they did at all will set the stage for a full rapture of the Nigerian state. By its calculation and design, the Nigerian state will be so fractious by then; it will be fully ripe for intervention and break up. It is in actualization of this plan that the US strategic planners on Nigeria have devised a three stage plan of implementation.
Perhaps you're saying: "I see smoke here, but where's the fire? How do we know these claims are valid?" I can sympathize.

On the other hand, American intelligence has worked with some very bizarre figures lately. Who would have thought, for example, that our government would be aiding Al Qaeda sympathizers in Syria? Yet that is precisely what has happened.

Even if we discount most of the allegations offered by the GreenWhite coalition, I can easily visualize a situation in which some segment of our intelligence apparat quietly asked the State Department to hold off on the FTO designation in order not to jeopardize a covert operation. And now, Hillary cannot mention that fact without disclosing classified information. If my suspicions are correct, she has no way of explaining a situation which strikes many Americans as inexplicable.

A perfect trap!

Added note. Here's another possibility: Perhaps Saudi Arabia (a known sponsor of Boko Haram) asked Hillary to hold off on the "terrorist" label. Hmm! That idea seems pretty compelling, the more I mull it over...


Joseph, I think you'll find the MEK has been removed from the terrorist list as of Sep 2012. Remember, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani and others were paid money to sell the idea that the MEK were not really terrorists but a bunch of good guys, protestors against an oppressive Iranian leadership. So how much of those speaking fees came from Israel?
I don't think this story is about Hillary, Joseph: you're beginning to sound like a conspiracy theorist. To me what it's about is that agencies of the US government are implementing deliberate policies of destabilization around the world, and arm, fund, and train some of the worst scum on the face of the earth in order to further their plans. The Ukrainian Nazis, the Liver Eaters of Syria, the trash that overthrew the government of Quaddafi and destroyed the country, the murderous jihadists of Iran, and now the black criminals of Nigeria, masquerading as religious fanatics are all prime examples.
There are powerful people in D.C. who are among the most dangerous criminals on earth. They should be prosecuted and brought to justice, but it will never happen. Everywhere the US projects its power, people die, infrastructure is destroyed, and the lives of innocents are disrupted or destroyed. What kind of psychopaths have seized control of our country? Perhaps Hillary should have asked that question of her friends the Rothschilds when she was having tea with them this last week. I would bet the topic never came up.
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