When the U.S. State Department was presented with hard evidence identifying Boko Haram as a growing terrorist threat in Nigeria, the agency failed to take action for several years. Why the delay despite the evidence? That’s a fair question for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since she headed the agency at the time and is now seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Boko Haram is the same group that kidnapped over 200 female students from Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria just over a year ago. Clinton, the self-described champion of women’s rights, was first presented with reports highlighting Boko Haram’s aggressive posture back in 2010. Yet, the State Department did not officially designate the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) until December 2013. During that time, Boko Haram gained significant footing at the expense of vulnerable populations.
Was a Nigerian land developer, who has donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation, a factor in delaying Boko Haram’s FTO designation? U.S. Senator David Vitter is exploring this possibility by examining the relationship between the Clintons and the developer, Gilbert Chagoury. His background is checkered to say the least. Chagoury plead guilty in British court to bribery, but avoided prison by returning portions of the money involved in his scheme. He also obtained immunity from prosecution in a looted assets case in Nigeria in exchange for returning money held in Swiss bank accounts. A list of all Clinton Foundation donations that includes Chagoury is available here. He has contributed about $5 million to the Foundation in recent years, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal that details Chagoury’s long and complicated relationship with the Clintons.
Vitter, one of two U.S. Senators to vote against Clinton’s confirmation as secretary of state, has also produced evidence that shows Clinton Foundation employees who worked for the State Department were directly involved with the decision to avoid labeling Boko Haram a terrorist group. During the confirmation hearings, Vitter cited potential conflicts of interest between the Clinton Foundation and foreign entities seeking favorable treatment from the State Department.
In a March 17, 2015 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Vitter asked for records pertaining to the State Department’s decision to delay designating Boko Haram as a terrorist group between 2011 and 2013. In his letter, Vitter cited requirements under the Code of Federal Regulations that require federal agencies to make and preserve records that document certain activities and public policy decisions. The State Department’s refusal to designate Boko Haram as an FTO despite the evidence that was presented would fall into this category. Vitter reminded Kerry that he previously challenged Clinton’s unwillingness to confront Boko Haram.
Boko Haram found its way back into the news just a few days ago when the Nigerian military rescued hundreds of its captives. News of the operation broke just as new allegations surfaced involving the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and its foreign donors. It’s not clear if the Chibok school girls were among the rescued, but it is evident that Clinton was beset with numerous conflicts of interest during her time as secretary of state. A new book written by a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, claims that foreigners who made donations to the Clinton Foundation received favorable treatment from the State Department.
Bill Clinton told NBC News during his recent tour of Africa that his charity has not done anything “knowingly inappropriate.” The former president also suggested in other media interviews that he and his wife were the victims of a concerted political attack aimed at bringing the Foundation down and damaging his wife’s presidential run. But the Clinton Foundation continued receiving foreign donations while Clinton served as secretary of state in violation of an ethics agreement with the Obama administration.
Furthermore, Clinton used a secret email account to conduct official government business during her entire tenure as secretary of state. Those emails now loom very large as they could provide insight into the rationale behind Clinton’s reticence to press ahead with the FTO designation for Boko Haram. Vitter is asking the State Department to produce emails that involve discussions of the Islamist group. In an earlier letter to Kerry the Louisiana senator called attention to the State Department’s own Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) and statistics from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which confirmed Boko Haram was engaged in terrorist activity and improving its capacity to coordinate with other groups. But the weight of evidence suggests “Secretary Hillary Clinton and the State Department not only knew of the extent, but also deliberately attempted to obfuscate the issue in order to avoid having to make the designation of Boko Haram as a FTO…” Vitter wrote.
Boko Haram translates into “Western Education is a Sin.”