US News and World Report quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on what the United States is doing in Nigeria to help rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the terrorist organization Boko Haram:
After a decade of directing most military resources toward the Middle East, the U.S. still doesn’t know much about the threat it faces in West Africa or even the environment in which it operates. Blanket approval from the Nigerian government to conduct surveillance over its land has allowed the U.S. to learn more about Boko Haram’s activities and the benign environments it could later try to penetrate.
“Nigeria’s giving us permission to overfly, to try to look for data, has also allowed us to gather some baseline information we didn’t have previously on Boko Haram’s movement,” says J. Peter Pham, an Africa expert with the Atlantic Council and frequent adviser to Congress, the White House and the U.N.
As a result, the mission has sent a message to extremists worldwide, Pham says, that the U.S. will not necessarily wait until its own interests are attacked before probing the strengths of this kind of threat.