Is there a chance of blowback as the U.S. helps Nigeria find kidnap victims?

As the U.S. sends military and law enforcement personnel to Nigeria to help that country search for the nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by terrorist group Boko haram, Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA and CBS News security contributor, said the U.S. must consider the unintended consequences.

"A high-profile U.S. support here could blowback on us in terms of having [Boko Haram] start focusing on Americans," Morell said.

However, he agreed with the president and said offering help was the "absolutely right thing to do."

The U.S. government will provide intelligence support and advisers who could help with the rescue operation, Morell said, in addition to dealing with the situation if the girls are found.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama called Boko Haram one of the worst regional terrorist organizations in the world. Morell said the larger threat of this Islamic extremist group is that they have been engaged in discussions with both al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb and al-Shabab in Somalia, both al Qaeda-affiliated groups.

"They have trained together," Morell said. "Those two al Qaeda groups have encouraged them to attack Western interests. They have done so inside Nigeria. My concern is that some day they may do it outside Nigeria."

Boko Haram is an insurgency in northern Nigeria that is fighting the Nigerian military for territory, Morell said. Over the last 10 years, al Qaeda ideology has taken root in the north, while the south is largely Christian.

"They don't want to take over all of Nigeria, just the northern part of Nigeria, and run it in a conservative, ideological, Islamic way."

While Nigeria is one of the richest countries in Africa, Morell said those in the northern region are frustrated that they are not reaping the benefits of the economic resources in the south.

As for whether or not the U.S. would use military forces to help the Nigerian government, Morell said it is unlikely.

"I don't think so because the group at the moment does not pose a direct threat to the United States."

However, Nigeria has not been able to shut down the terrorist group because their military does not have the reach into the northern region that it needs.

Morell said the longer this operation takes, the less likely the abducted girls will be found.

"I think some of them already have been sold into slavery, and every day that goes by, more will be sold into slavery."

  • Jean Song

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom