President Barack Obama’s U.N. ambassador broadcast heart-rending testimony on Friday about the murder of Nigerian Christians by Boko Haram jihadis — despite the White House’s policy of downplaying Islam’s motivating role in many terrorist attacks.
“The men told my dad that he should deny his Christian faith. My dad told them that he would not deny his faith… After he told the men that, the men shot him three times in his chest,” said the testimony by the dead pastor’s daughter, Deborah Peter.
The three gunman — including a Muslim neighbor — then decided to kill her young brother, “because Caleb will only grow up to be a Christian pastor,” said Peter, who testified May 21 at a hearing held by the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“Caleb asked me to plead with them for his life but they told me to shut up or they would kill me too. The leader agreed that they should kill him and shot my brother two times. My dad had still been breathing but when he saw them shoot Caleb, he died,” said Peter.
For months, administration officials have insisted that Boko Haram is not fueled by Islamic ideology, despite the group’s repeated use of Islamic texts to justify its murders and bombing attacks against churches.
They’ve also adopted the same denial strategy towards jihadis who strike U.S. targets, such as the two Muslims who bombed the Boston marathon in April 2013.
“I respectfully suggest while anti-Christian sentiment is a strong motivator, the fact of the matter is that Boko Haram is trying to portray its philosophy as being a Muslim philosophy, and that’s just not accurate,” said Ambassador Robert Jackson, Obama’s principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
Instead of Islam, he said, the group is motivated by a “perverse ideology.” He did not describe the source or purpose of the unnamed “perverse ideology.”
But Power’s tweet of Peter’s testimony contradicts Jackson’s evasions.
“My family was targeted by Boko Haram because we are Christians. My dad was a pastor. We had to move from place to place because Boko Haram always attacked my father and told him that they would kill him. In November, they burned his church and threatened him. My dad refused to deny his faith and [he] rebuilt his church. That is why they killed him—because he is a Christian,” she said.
After he father and brother were murdered in front of her, she subsequently fled the town.
“Boko Haram decided later that they should have killed me because I am the daughter of an apostate Muslim mother who converted to Christianity. So [a] pastor paid for me to get out of that region,” and eventually found a home in the United States arranged by the Jubilee Campaign, she said
“On May 15, 2013, that pastor, Rev Faye Pama, was killed by Boko Haram in front of his kids,” she added.
The group’s enslavement of the 250 kidnapped girls has prompted much coverage by Western media, which previously ignored the group’s killing of Christians. That embarrassing and politically damaging coverage has prompted many Islamic leaders to criticize the group.
The group’s leaders have promised to sell the girls into sex slavery, and also paraded some of the girls in front of TV cameras after they declare themselves to be Muslims to escape slavery.
Because of the coverage over the girls’ enslavement, the administration has been pressured by liberal groups to act against Boko Haram. So far, Obama has provided modest aid, plus potentially critical intelligence information and a few surveillance drones which are to be based in neighboring Chad.
Like the White House, foreign and U.S.-based Islamic groups also trying to deny any link between the Islam’s commandments and the Islamic group’s actions.
“If you would like to follow the teachings of Islam, listen to the global chorus of voices that are enjoining you to do what is right: return these children to their families and replace the evil in your heart with peace and learning,” said a group of U.S. Muslim leaders, which included Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Andre Carson.
Their letter was co-signed by various Islamic leaders whose groups are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its jihad affiliates including HAMAS.
The U.S.-based Muslim leaders, however, have declined to engage in a formal religious debate that could allow Boko Haram to be declared a non-Islamic heretical group.
“There is a great reluctance to excommunicate someone by extension. … It would be like convicting someone in absentia,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the spokesman for the “Home of the Migrants” mosque, or Dar Al Hijrah mosque, told The Daily Caller.
If crimes have been committed, the Nigerian government should punish the individuals, he added.
Boko Haram’s formal name is the “Congregation of the People of the Sunnah for Dawah and Jihad.” The word “Sunnah” means that the group belongs to the Sunni branch of Islam. “Dawah” is the Islamic word for proselytization, and jihad is the Muslim term for divinely sanctioned war to expand or defend Islamic territories.
In the same hearing where Peter spoke, Sen. Marco Rubio quoted jihadi claims by Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.
“It is either you are with jahideen, or you’re with the Christians,” Shekau said.
“We know what is happening in this world. It is a jihad war [by Muslims] against Christians and Christianity… This is what I know in [the Islamic book, the] Quran. This is a war against Christians and democracy and their constitution. Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”