May 6th, 2014
04:54 PM ET
4 years ago

Senator calls for U.S. special forces to rescue Nigerian girls

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Susan Collins told CNN in an interview that she wants the U.S. military to help rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.

“More can be done by this administration. I would like to see Special Forces deployed to help rescue these young girls. Some of these girls are as young as nine years old,” said Collins.

“They’re being sold into slavery, forced into marriages, required to convert. This is just horrible,” she said.

Collins joined Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski in writing a bipartisan letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama asking the administration to do more. It was signed by all 20 women senators.

But the letter focused on the diplomatic front, and urged Obama to press the United Nations to add Boko Haram to its al Qaeda Sanctions List.

Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings in April, is a militant group that has received assistance in the past from al Qaeda, according to the State Department. The United States has branded it a terror group.

“Every single woman immediately signed that letter, because she wanted to lend her voice to the international outrage,” said Mikulski.

“The women of the Senate won’t be quiet,” she said.

The comments came as word surfaced of even more abductions this week.

Mikulski, interviewed by CNN alongside Collins, was more circumspect on the idea of sending American troops on a rescue mission. Instead, she hopes regional governments take the lead.

“It has to start with the Nigerian President, using his resources, an African regional coalition, and then call upon the expertise of nations that have Special Forces, special intelligence data, satellites, etc.,” said Mikulski.

“Find the girls, rescue the girls, punish the bad guys and send a message: we won’t tolerate it. You try it again, we’ll come after you again,” Mikulski said emphatically.

But she voiced concern coming from others on Capitol Hill and elsewhere about the Nigerian government’s willingness to act.

“The Nigerian government, led by its President, has been tepid on its response at best,” said Mikulski.

Collins said she would think the Nigerian President “would welcome Special Forces coming in.”

“I don’t think the Nigerian President has the capabilities, obviously, that we have, so I would hope that he would encourage the United States to help him rescue these young citizens of his country, these girls who are being so exploited, kidnapped, taken from their homes. This is horrendous and it requires a global outrage in response to what’s happening,” said Collins.

Under mounting international pressure, Nigeria on Tuesday defended its response to the kidnappings. A senior Nigerian official has told CNN that the government there is in "hot pursuit" of those responsible. Specifically, the official said two special battalions have been devoted to the search and more troops would be involved.

So far, the State Department said that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan welcomes an offer of U.S. support and said the embassy in Nigeria is ready to create a "coordination cell" to provide intelligence, investigations and hostage negotiation expertise. It would include U.S. military personnel, agency spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Filed under: Congress • Senate • Susan Collins
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. pntrdav007

    Why do we have to go fix it? The regional governments should do more-– We can provide intelligence, drones, etc, and I agree we should help as much as we can, but lets keep our troops out of there. If needed, the special forces are an option, a last resort. The girls safety is mandatory, and these nuttjob radicals would just as soon blow them away if threatened. Sure, Allah told them to sell them to slavery, yeah right-this bunch of barbaric idiots need to be put in front of a firing squad.

    May 6, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. yuripelham

    Yes. And exterminate the entire terrorist band.

    May 6, 2014 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  3. quine90

    My nephew is in the Special Forces, so I admit to some bias here. However, I'd much prefer that our military–Special Forces or otherwise–be devoted to causes in which we have a vested interest. I fail to see how this problem in Nigeria–sad as it is–has much bearing on our country. Our senators–female and male–need to cut the hysteria and remember for whom they work–and it ain't the Nigerians.

    May 6, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. Mart

    Would any president of any country in the world realy welcome another countries special forces into their country.

    May 6, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. Spindreams

    I'm sorry to see three commenters who care little or nothing about the horrific fate that awaits those helpless young girls who have been kidnapped and are being sold as sexual pawns and slaves in Nigeria (or wherever they've been taken) by this outrageous terrorist group. I have phoned my more compassionate friend and Florida Senator, Bill Nelson, to ask his help in pressing for immediate aid from our government, military action if necessary, in aiding the rescue of these young innocents from the horrors they face. Sadly,many are, or will be, killed, injured or lost forever. Every female U.S.Senator has now signed a petition for our government to act and send aid for this. We cannot help their families to endure this anguish of their loss of a child and not knowing her fate. But... if we assist in a combined rescue effort with our allies, and move quickly, perhaps we can save many of them from the terror of this indescribable nightmare, and a dreadful future and life. My grandson is deployed right now with our special forces, and I know he is strong enough, brave enough, and caring enough to storm in there with his fellow warriors and rescue as many of these children as they can, as he has two little sisters he adores, who love him too, and he can well understand what a ghastly thing like this can mean to hapless little children. We are civilized human beings, I would hope, and we cannot, with any decent conscience, allow this mini-holocaust kind of activity to flourish and persist in our world today without making a powerful, unified, United Nations-backed effort by a group of nations to annihilate it, and also hold those who initiate and perpetrate such ghastly schemes against children to trial and justice for their acts.

    May 6, 2014 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  6. Marty

    We been trying to help the Ugandans with our Special Forces find Joseph Kony for YEARS . There are lots of places in jungles to hide – plus they may have crossed borders to further complicate things. Plus, remember we'd be sending Americans into a country where perhaps millions of people would probably like to kill us. Let's think this one through real carefully.

    May 6, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. Dr. Hemlock

    And the V.A. will take great care of our wounded troops when they get home. Give me a break.

    May 6, 2014 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. jdinblankets

    Using force to secure the release of these girls is an appropriate use of our armed forces. More legitimate than Kosovo, Iraq Panama Granada Vietnam and Afghanistan. It is what the world's most enlightened democracy would do. Unfortunately I don't think we qualify anymore.

    May 6, 2014 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. quine90

    Mikulski and colleagues need to remember that they were elected to protect and advance our national interests. Let the Nigerians settle their own problems.

    May 6, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. steve Burleson

    The army navy airforce and marines should. Have been there yestetday. This can not happen 8 and 9 year old girls what if it was your daughter.americans can stand for this this requires action now!!!

    May 6, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. Kristine

    At least some female democrat politicians are FINALLY speaking out against the REAL war on women...not that fake U.S. war on women where you are called a woman hater if you feel women should be responsible for paying for their own birth control pills...and don't ask others to foot the bill for them.

    May 6, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  12. Jade

    Why does it always have to be the United States that acts? The world is outraged, why can't the world do something? Or work with us.. but why is it always us that does something about whatever, only to have it end up being used against us.

    May 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  13. Mike9

    It is not bad, but kind of strange that the female Senators are working together to push our foreign policy on this issue. I would think that Senators who are men, from both parties, many of whom are fathers, would be just as concerned. The "women of the Senate won't be quiet" makes them sounds a little silly as a group. This is not a female exclusive issue. It is a human issue. It is outrageous that this would happen to girls or boys anywhere. Boys have been kidnapped and pressed in to wars all around the world to do horrible things for a long time. I guess Collins is suggesting that the US Military become an international police force that is dispatched when radical muslims do bad things? She should probably think that through a little bit more before talking to the press. After they clean up Nigeria how about the Chinese Mafia? We have some pretty serious child trafficking issues in the US. How about dispatching some SEALS in New York City?

    May 6, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. bence

    it won't be that simple

    May 6, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  15. barb'sbarb

    Ah, yes, another group of terrorists - sadly they are evil - but why send in special forces? Why not let the UN do what it is suppose to do.... Oh, I forgot - America has to police the world and pay for it, of course.

    May 6, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. janelle

    I am as outraged by these kidnappings as anyone. I'm outraged at all atrocities that are taking place. If we are going to something, we have to go all the way with it. Diplomacy and negotiation isn't going to change anything. Sending special forces in to rescue the girls without wiping out the terrorists doing this will only result in more kidnappings. If we go in, we have to wipe them out and be prepared for the repercussions that will follow. If we can't stomach that, then we can't go in and get involved.

    May 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  17. Vence

    Don't bring Ebola home please!

    May 6, 2014 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  18. Bryan B

    I think its good thing she is requesting special forces, it pains me to see all the suffering around the world and no one doing anything except talking about it.

    May 6, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  19. Subnx

    I thought the Democrats wanted us out of Iraq and Afghanistan and other places where Muslim extremists treat women terribly.

    May 6, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  20. Someone

    The senators are thinking too small. They should really thing large. Why don't we start charging US residents a "World Policeman Tax" so that we can station and pay for US special forces for all 200 countries of the world

    May 6, 2014 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  21. Richard L Smith

    What in God's name do these politicians think? U.S. special forces are the answer to everything? Hello, ladies of the congress, this is a UN issue. We know where your heart is, where is your head? The US military is NOT the panacea of all world problems. Boots on the ground? No freakin' way. Is this situation reprehensible, yes it is. Let the countries of Africa deal with it.\, if they need help, ask the UN. Isn't that what United Nations means?

    May 6, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. CWT

    Make that female special ops. You wanted your chance, now you have chance.

    May 6, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  23. Dale

    Yes send military forces, as long as it's not my son or daughter or family member.

    May 6, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. Gabe

    Our representatives are so out of touch! Where are the special forces for exploited children in this country?

    May 6, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  25. paul

    Africa has done nothing to clean-up thier exported fraudulent practices, they even incourage it, spread it around the world by diplomatic privileges, We can not be expected to police the entire world, as the senator said it must start with the local goverment first before they ask for help from others, They are africans and there are other african nations that could help them,
    We have other alarming issues also, our oceans turning into garbage dumps, we are looseing our fresh water lakes, rivers, glaciers, aquifers, global warming, drying out the land and lack of water to irrigate it means we have to grow more fruit, vegaetables on smaller plots of land not desirious for houseing we have to irrigate our production land on a trickle of water, we are polluteing our oceans that give us oxygen and we are burning the oxygen up by military aircraft and space rockets WELCOME to our world gone mad, The universe has been here forevere, it recycles galaxy,s and solar systems, perhaps evolution could recycle our solar system and give us something improved to work with,

    May 6, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
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