Breaking down Boko Haram

Major terror organization remains unnoticed in the U.S.

After a quick survey around the school, only one out of forty students recognizes the words “Boko Haram.” That comes out to a grand total estimate of 2.5% of students being aware of the deadliest terrorist group in Africa.

So let’s start with a quick explanation. Boko Haram is a terrorist group based in Nigeria seeking to rid the country of any Western influence. The terrorist group proclaims that it seeks to recreate the Sokoto Caliphate that was taken over by Great Britain in 1903. These terrorists condemn any Western practices including voting, female education, secular education, Western-style pants or shirts and any other Western culture.

As of Feb. 18, Boko Haram was responsible for well over 13,000 deaths in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad in the last six years–refugees in the nations surrounding Nigeria have reached 214,000. As an added reason for awareness, recently, Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic terrorist coalition ISIS.

And despite these atrocities, no one at Texas High knows anything about the group. So why are Texas High students totally unaware of a terrorist organization that has destroyed so many lives?

Well, part of the issue is U. S. involvement. With a comparable group, specifically ISIS operating primarily in Syria and Iraq. The two groups have comparable values, both strictly opposing Western culture. They also both have reeked comparable havok, 13,000 deaths by Boko Haram and 17,000 deaths at the hands of ISIS.

But these similarities end when it comes to the awareness of this issue in the United States. There is no debate over American involvement with Boko Haram. There is no worldwide multi-national resistance to Boko Haram. As a whole, where ISIS is facing a massive resistance and just about everyone between here and Hooks has an opinion on how Obama should fix this problem. Meanwhile, Boko Haram harasses the region, opposed only by the small, underfunded national armies of Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

So why does everyone care about ISIS but not Boko Haram? For a simple answer it can be said that we as Americans are just “used to” worrying about terrorism in the Middle East. But the answer is really deeper than that. First of all, ISIS is occupying areas of key financial interest to the United States. In just 2013, the United States imported 124 million barrels of oil from Iraq, coming out to about $11 billion dollars in crude oil. On top of the financial obligation for the United States, there is also a residual resistance of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East after 9/11 and the resulting “war on terror.”

For Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon however, the history of American involvement is minimal by comparison. There is also no lingering American hate for terrorists in Africa the way there is in the Middle East. As a result, everyone listens when the news describes new ISIS movements but also ignores any reports about Boko Haram. No one in the U.S. seems to really care.

This is the problem. Just because the United States has no financial or historical reason to pay attention doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t. The atrocities occurring right now at the hands of Boko Haram are horrific. No one suffering in such ways deserves to be brushed aside and ignored. Everyone, from the news agencies all the way down to the average Texas High student, needs to be aware of what is happening in the world.

Compassion from Americans simply cannot be restricted to nations with things that we want. Everyone deserves education. Everyone deserves life. Everyone deserves safety. And when those rights are violated, regardless of where they are violated, people must speak up.