"A Terrible Situation": US to Send Help to Nigeria

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A man stands next to debris after a suicide bombing in Abuja, Nigeria. (Getty)

The U.S. has offered the Nigerian government help with locating the roughly 276 kidnapped school girls. In the meantime, a car bomb exploded this week in the capital, Abuja, near the site of another deadly bombing last month. And, on Monday, 100-150 people were killed in a northeastern border town by Boko Haram. Comfort Ero, Africa program director for the International Crisis Group, talks about what the US team of specialists can do to help and what might end the violence in Nigeria.


Comfort Ero

Comments [34]

Some "self-promotion" from the I.C.G.

May. 09 2014 04:55 AM

Not to wallow in recriminations, however, maybe we should be including this article in the upcoming "Benghazi" hearings:

" . . . The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls. . . . "

May. 09 2014 04:18 AM

Map of Nigeria to be seen at Page 57 of

May. 09 2014 02:24 AM
Chike from New York

I would have liked to ask the guest how we can help.

What organizations can people channel their resources or efforts through?

May. 08 2014 01:54 PM

Waiting for the ultimate expression of affected emotion:

A group shot consisting of the First Lady, flanked by Malia and Sasha, flanked by Chirlane McCray, Chiara and Dante, flanked by Chelsea, flanked by Lindsay Graham -
all behind a simple sign that reads "Bring back our girls now."

Why didn't we use this means for Crimea?
[President Obama and Senator McCain behind a sign:
"Give back our Crimea"]

(BTW: We all know the approximate English meaning of "Boko Harum"

I'm wondering if "Comfort Ero" is a nom-de-guerre" translation from another language? )

Just askin'.

May. 08 2014 11:41 AM
Chris from Lower Manhattan

Hi Brian -- I think one important piece of this conversation that does not seem to get much mention is the impact of the toppling of Gaddafi mostly by NATO and Qatar (and less so by ragtag regional militias that run Libya now defacto). As is the case in Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and general Sahelian region, the flood of cheap weapons from Libya have helped to transform relatively minor, low-level insurgency groups into serious geopolitical terrorist threats. Unless and until there is a concerted effort by the "international community" to track down and remove those weapons/ammunition, it is just a matter of time before the next (previously minor) militant group is posing a significant threat to another western African country. We will just keep treating acute symptoms instead of preventing the disease -- which is almost always more costly.

May. 08 2014 10:42 AM
jeremy Kareken from Sunnyside, NY

Here's what you, Brian, can do to stop terrorist groups like this. Stop calling them by their name, because their name is a propaganda tool. Their name is Hausa for "western education is sinful," and like many terrorist groups who claim to operate under Islam, they use their names as propaganda tools. Like "Hizbullah" translates into Party of God.

So, at the very least, call this group "the group that calls itself Boko Haram" or better still, call it after its leaders. Don't give them an inch, because they would take away (and do, in Nigeria) press freedom in an instant.

May. 08 2014 10:32 AM
Gordon from Brooklyn

Just as horrifying as the mass kidnapping in Nigeria is the fact that there IS a thriving market for selling these girls into slavery, and presumably many eager buyers. This could be a good opportunity to remind listeners about that big picture.

May. 08 2014 10:31 AM
Marble Women's Ministry from Manhattan

We will not stand idle while our daughters are taken!
Please invite your networks, constituents, educational institutions for an interfaith prayer and call to action for the kidnapped Nigerian girls.

Tuesday, May 13th at Middle Collegiate Church 6:30pm. (7th St and 2nd Ave.) This brazen abduction is unacceptable, so we come together to pray across faith traditions and demand the immediate release of these girls! Wednesday, May 14th marks one month since they were stolen.

Please do join us!

May. 08 2014 10:30 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The "triple" problems of Nigeria are for Nigerians to figure out. The Nigerian Army is solid compared to the rest of Africa but they cannot carry out spec ops missions, they don't have the tech or the training. The government has INVITED us to help and this is one place where the US can make a difference as our operators have no tribal/political axe to grind (one of the reasons those Nigerian troops are so "heavy handed") and can focus on the mission of freeing these girls and killing their captors. The worst possible case is being played out right now, these girls are being raped and brutalized as we talk about this, that is what Boko Haram does... this is the time for action and Obama is sitting on his hands.

May. 08 2014 10:29 AM
Robert from NYC

Hey Brian I think you should apologize to me on air as I did not intend this as a joke and you made light of it as if I said 'ha ha ha" which I did not. I am very serious about getting the girls out of there and you toatlly misrepresented what I said and the vain in which I said it. If you read posting you should read them as written. You are veey offensive and I am offended.

May. 08 2014 10:27 AM

Jack - so right. But let's not forget Ireland and other parts of the world where you could replace Islam in your statement with any number of other religions. I'm not saying that such extremism is always associated with a religion, but when group-think of any kind gets off track, bad things seem to happen.

May. 08 2014 10:26 AM

Once again Brian and NPR you are bigots defending Muslims, very rude to the woman who called in asking where was the outrage from Muslims. Yet you Brian and NPR/WNYC make bigoted comments toward the Catholic Church and your attack on Catholic values and traditions continue. Your disrespect and trying to set up Cardinal Kasper is just one example.

I pray for the safe return of all the girl's & peace and tolerance for all!

May. 08 2014 10:26 AM

Once again Brian and NPR you are bigots defending Muslims, very rude to the woman who called in asking where was the outrage from Muslims. Yet you Brian and NPR/WNYC make bigoted comments toward the Catholic Church and your attack on Catholic values and traditions continue. Your disrespect and trying to set up Cardinal Kasper is just one example.

I pray for the safe return of all the girl's & peace and tolerance for all!

May. 08 2014 10:26 AM
Joyce from NYC

Wow -- call the show and be critical of Islam, and get hung up on.

May. 08 2014 10:24 AM
roseellen from jackson heights

The leader sounds and looks like he's on drugs. Most likely this is a drug crazed cult, similar to Jim Jones, Waco, Kony; the Christian militia and other such delusional maniacal fanatics. This has nothing to do with Alquada who are not anti education but anti dictators whether Russian[Syria and in the past, Afghanistan],Iranian or US backed. This group are home grown fanatics like Kony albeit with a Muslim twisted bent ,rather then Christian. This is akin to the fanaticism of militia's in Congo, South Sudan, Mali ,Uganda, Ruanda etc. What I don't understand is why the Nigerian people are not themselves armed to defend themselves when these gangs show up! Africa and the world itself is awash with weapons; why do the Nigerian people, not have them to protect themselves? I'll tell you one thing -it makes me understand how people here value the 2nd amendment!

May. 08 2014 10:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I read awhile back that "Boko Haram" isn't the group's own name for itself & that they call themselves something else, but by now I don't remember what, or what it means. Does Ms. Ero know what it is, & does it tell us anything about how they think that might help?

And can anything be done to prevent groups like this from forming in the 1st place, or at least from getting so extreme that they become capable of carrying out horrible crimes like this?

May. 08 2014 10:24 AM
Hunter from Brooklyn

To the last caller's point: the Nigerian Army has also been a bad player in the North:

May. 08 2014 10:22 AM

These and other acts of terrorism are committed in the name of Islam and will continue until the Muslim community around the world acknowledges that their religion it used as justification. Only when the Islamic world openly condemns radical Islam, will they begin to decline by undermining radicalization.

May. 08 2014 10:21 AM
William Zeph Ginsberg AIA from Greenwich Village

Kidnapping these 276 girls is so awful that it may be like the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor which many people say was the act where Japan lost the war.

Let's hope that that the world gets so mad at this act that it spells the end of these fanatics

May. 08 2014 10:19 AM

"I see it more in pro-life terms"

Ed, you see everything in pro-life terms, and only in pro-life terms. That's why you've lost the ears and eyes of everyone who reads the BLS comments. Most folks just think you're a joke that some bored person is having fun with. I feel bad for you, buddy.

May. 08 2014 10:18 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

john from office - you are a complete mor0n.... it's everyday for you.... sad

May. 08 2014 10:15 AM
Ed from Larchmont

That's an interesting view about reporting on Africa, probably some truth to that. I see it more in pro-life terms - if abortion doesn't make us outraged, what does? It's interesting to see what finally reaches our hearts.

May. 08 2014 10:14 AM

Mark is right. China has no desire to be a world power.
'Not even sure why they're in this discussion except for wacko's here trying to pull out whatever they can to be contrary.
China is totally different than the US. Unlike us, China is not a country made up of people who come from all over the world.
The US is an exceptional country with exceptional responsibilities specifically because we are a mongrel country built on parts of every other country on the planet. It's how we were founded and it's how we've grown. So, we must play a role where ever bad news breaks out.

May. 08 2014 10:12 AM

Spot on Seth.

May. 08 2014 10:11 AM
Robert from NYC

LISTEN, as I tweeted and it sounds horrible but it's realistic and not so horrible. why don't we send in people to buy the girls just to get them out of there thus out of danger and then go in and take out these scum who kidnapped them to stop them from kidnapping other. I know that sounds terrible to purchase human beings but the purpose of these purchases would be to get them out of danger not to keep them. Does anyone get this? It's the girls' lives and well-being that's important and buying them would do that. Anyting else would put the girls' lives in danger whether military or other forceful attempt. Buying them is peaceful and better for the girls.

May. 08 2014 10:10 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Boko Haram are just begging to be made an example of. Whose going to cry over their bodies? We have this super secret "Black Ops" military now and we can't deploy them? What a waste of a great PR opportunity... They're hunkered down in the jungle without a lot of news people around...let's put the black helicopters to good use. I'm sure our satellites can track them down. This isn't about "hearts and minds", this is an operation against a criminal/terrorist gang. Your guest is way off base, she is talking her own book.

May. 08 2014 10:09 AM
Seth Pecksniff

John, your comment starts with a bad Straw Man, "Africa is some great place", and that so hurts your point. People stop listening right there. I tune into this show everyday, and get way too much media at night, and I've never, ever heard an AA say this. You put yourself in a class the Martin and Ed. I feel bad for you.

May. 08 2014 10:06 AM

Why would China want to be a world power? That's a fool's errand. As long as the Chinese Communist Party continues to deliver a rapidly improving standard of living for the Chinese people then what do they care about Islamic wars in Africa? America may be the best at dropping bombs on Muslim weddings but by any other imaginable metric the American standard of living is falling off a cliff. The American people can't pay their debts with dead Muslims.

May. 08 2014 09:42 AM
john from office

My comments are directly on point. This is a horrible situation, but it does not play well with African Americans, it is embarrassing.

May. 08 2014 09:24 AM
John from Staten Island

@john from office,

Your comments are so frightening and off base that they just make me sad.

May. 08 2014 09:14 AM
john from office

Notice that we don't hear anyone asking China for help here?? Nigeria just signed several contracts with China, why don't they ask them for help?? Answer is the China values human life even less then the government of Nigeria.

China will never be a true world power.

May. 08 2014 09:12 AM
john from office

This story does not play into the African American view that Africa is some great place, a paradise, so African Americans don't want to see it reported. Much like the issue of black on black crime, no the problem is the police.

Hence, we will not hear from Fuva, blacksocialist, or becky. Nor will Brian or the three mentioned above comment on the slavery issue and how it continues in africa today. Never hear much about that!

This story does not play into the "White Man did it to us" mind set.

Don't get me wrong, this is a terrible case, but maybe Nigeria should resolve it on it's own. Same goes for the various civil wars going on in Africa, mobs killing each other with Machetes, we don't belong there.

May. 08 2014 09:01 AM
Ed from Larchmont

These attacks have been going on across Africa for some time, I guess one got attention. It has really captured people's outrage. Evil for a time doesn't seem so bad, but it always moves forward, and eventually it shows itself for what it is, and everyone is appalled, and evil is rejected. (In stain glass windows in the Cathedrals of the Middle Ages there was often a small dog chasing it's tail - it symbolized the devil who in the end destroys himself.)

May. 08 2014 08:21 AM

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