Expert: Terrorist Group Boko Haram Has Killed More Than 10,000 People in Nigeria

By Penny Starr | April 30, 2015 | 4:22 PM EDT

Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center Atlantic Council, spoke at a House Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism on April 29, 2015. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – The terrorist Group Boko Haram is responsible for the deaths of some 10,000 people in Nigeria “last year alone,” according to Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center Atlantic Council.

The reemergence of the terrorist group in 2010 has been a “cause for concern,” Pham said, “not least because its attacks last year alone left more than 10,000 people dead across northern and central Nigeria and displaced at least 1.5 million others.”

Speaking at a House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence hearing on Wednesday, Pham said in his sworn testimony that Boko Haram has transformed from a small militant group to a “major insurgency seizing and holding large swathes of territory.”

Boko Haram is the group responsible for the kidnapping of almost 300 girls from a Christian school in April 2014. The girls have reportedly been sold into sexual slavery or forced to marry.

“According to an April 13, 2015 UNICEF report, some 800,000 children have been displaced in Nigeria by the ongoing violence of Boko Haram and the battles between the Islamic terrorists and the Nigerian military.

Pham also cited Boko Haram’s recent claim of allegiance to the so-called Islamic State terrorist group that is waging attacks in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Although the impact of that claim is not yet clear, Pham said, according to the Islamic State’s magazine “Dabiq” the partnership will help reach the terrorists’ goal spelled out on the front page of the 8th issue, which was released in 2014: “Shari-ah Alone Will Rule Africa.”

According to the Clarion Project, the magazine’s aim is to recruit people from the West and thus is published in English.

“So whoever is stopped by the disbelieving rulers, and prevented from emigrating to Iraq, Shm, Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula, or Khursn, will not be prevented – by Allah’s permission – from emigrating to Africa,” the magazine states. “So come, O Muslims, to your State, for we call on you to mobilize for jihd and incite you and invite you to emigrate to your brothers in West Africa.

“And we specifically call upon the students of Islamic knowledge and the callers to Islam. Come forth, O Muslims, to the land of the Caliphate” [So They Kill and Are Killed],” the magazine states.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the subcommittee, said in his opening remarks that the Obama administration “has devoted comparatively little of its attention on fighting this growing threat.”

“As like-minded Islamist groups join forces and conquer new territory in Africa, it is time the leaders of the United States treat every source of terrorism as the sobering threat that it is,” King said.

In 2013, the U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram and another African terror group, Ansaru, as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).