“Islamic State militants burned 45 people to death in the Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi … ISIS has been executing people in droves and using barbaric methods to do so, such as beheading and crucifixion, and publicizing some of the deaths in videos released on the Internet.” – New York Daily News, February 18, 2015
“Hundreds of bodies still litter the bushes of Baga, Nigeria—mostly women, children, and elderly victims too slow to outrun Boko Haram fighters who stormed the town with explosives and assault rifles … as many as 2,000 people have been killed.” – Fox News, January 12, 2015
On Saturday, a message allegedly from the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, pledged the organization’s allegiance to the Islamic State, which is commonly referred to as ISIS. The audio message purportedly stated, “We [Boko Haram] announce our allegiance to the caliph … and will hear and obey him in times of difficulty and prosperity …. We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph.” Notably, the recording was posted to Twitter just hours after Boko Haram was accused of killing at least 54 people through a series of suicide bombings in northeastern Nigeria.
Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sin,” has been initiating terror campaigns aimed at instituting its extreme version of Sharia law. Jacob Zenn, an expert on the terror group, observed that a public allegiance to ISIS “will help its recruiting, funding, and logistics as it expands propaganda.” While news of the allegiance should not come as a surprise, given that the two terror groups share parallel ideologies and practices, this publicized affiliation is still significant. While an amalgamation of forces seems impractical given the geographic distance between Nigeria and Syria/Iraq, both ISIS and Boko Haram become further legitimized through this allegiance, making their goal of establishing a permanent political state seem much more realistic. These terror groups, as BBC correspondent Jim Muir states, “look more like a global franchise”—a franchise that seeks to propagate the very terror the U.S. has struggled to destroy.
Yet despite the growing presence of these terrorist organizations that seek to eradicate even the most fundamental human rights, many people question whether the United States has any “right” to be involved, whether that be in the deployment of troops or unmanned airstrikes—a question that not only infuriates me but jeopardizes everything we boast the United States to represent.
As a nation that champions life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we must intervene on behalf of the women, children, and minorities that are being relentlessly persecuted by terrorist organizations. The entire foundation of North Africa and the Middle East is being radically dismantled as Boko Haram and ISIS jeopardize the integrity of centralized governments and the safety of countless villages. Terrorism is turning the world away from progress. It is tearing at the roots of equality and freedom, ushering in an era defined by violence and fear.
These countries need help. If they could eradicate terrorism with their own weaponry or manpower then they would have already accomplished such a task. Yet the alliance of Boko Haram with ISIS indicates the ever present threat of terrorism and the need for intervention.
As a nation so proud of its advancement, we must not let terror succeed in any situation, under any circumstances. The inhumanity and injustices of these people are the greatest evil facing the modern world—an evil clouded under the guise of a “religious war.”
I recognize that the United States cannot solve every problem the world faces, nor can we rightly impose our will on the rest of mankind. Yet the issue of ISIS (alongside Boko Haram) and U.S. involvement goes much deeper. ISIS has directly threatened our nation, claiming they will behead President of the United States Barack Obama and transform America into a Muslim province. This proposed assault on our homeland is a strong enough basis to effectively justify U.S. military campaigns against the group.
However, the conflicts of the world are never simple, and it is hard to preach both military intervention and the assertion of human rights. Likewise, I find it difficult to endorse military campaigns against ISIS while I sit in a Boston College dorm room and know I will never have to face the reality of sacrificing my life for another nation—a reality our soldiers abroad face every day. Although I am conflicted about the deployment of troops, stopping these terror groups must be a national priority and I can only thank and applaud the brave men and women who embrace the fight for human freedom by joining our armed forces.
John F. Kennedy said, “We must face up to the chance of war, if we are to maintain peace. We must work with certain countries lacking in freedom in order to strengthen the cause of freedom …. And as the most powerful defender of freedom on earth, we find ourselves unable to escape the responsibilities of freedom.” His words still hold true today as the U.S. must face a new generation, a new enemy, and a new call to restore freedom in the world.
Countries in North Africa and the Middle East are suffering under the oppression of terror. World peace is not an independent venture, but a global enterprise involving the effort of all nations. The United States, as a leader, must therefore rise to the call of duty and confront the evil that is terrorism.
Featured Image by The Associated Press