May 6th, 2014
04:54 PM ET
6 months 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. Re: Sniffit

    So apparently what you're saying is that you can't start caring about a cause unless you cared since the beginning?

    May 6, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  2. Arvind Kukreja

    I DON't want a single $$ of my Tax payer money to go to Nigeria or any country until the problems in USA are fixed first.
    If our problems related to Jobs, education, medical, roads, infra are fixed then only one should think about this.

    If the senator/congress(wo)man wants to spend their own money and NOT taxpayer money I strongly encourage them to do so.
    We have enough of our problems/challenges to take take care of first before world problems

    May 6, 2014 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  3. JaJaCaCA

    Ummm, no. Hell no. No. They need to get there own special forces together.

    May 6, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. 1alien1

    did the nigerian government ask for our forces to enter their country or is this like iraq where we will get thousands of our serviceman killed and wounded for nothing? i have had enough of these senators that do not seem to learn from past mistakes of POLITICIANS

    May 6, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  5. Socalc

    > "And I think she should personally pay for those special forces."

    If it comes to that, she will not have to do so alone – because I for one would be happy to share the financial burden of rescuing these children and punishing those responsible for these criminal acts.

    May 6, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  6. Tony

    Methinks she should go herself, perhaps leading the special forces.....

    May 6, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. Cody

    Stay out of this America. Yes, it's heartbreakening, but those countries will have to learn to fight back unfortunately. We have our own slew of problems to deal with... or in Washington's case, ignore.

    May 6, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  8. Lighten up, Francis

    Why should American boys be shipped across the world to do a job Nigerian boys should be doing for themselves? Its sad and tragic but it's really not our problem. At some point lets do some nation building at HOME. We have roads, bridges & electrical / technical infrastructures that need repair. This would create jobs while investing in our future.

    But no lets waste more money on the military industrial complex in order to facilitate more wealth for the greedy pigs who've been gorging themselves at the trough since WWII ....

    May 6, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  9. Sharon

    I pray that the find the young girls alive and can get them home soon. As for sending in our troops, are you crazy? Guess you didn't see the movie "Black Hawk Down" and what happened to our people. Let the Nigerian government get off their butt and let them and the African Union and UN take care of it. We ARE NOT the world's policeman. We are the world's patsy. People in third world countries have been killing each other for centuries over nonsense and we won't change them now. If we were to get involved, just take them all out. As Obama touts that Islam is a peaceful religion, tell that to the families of the girls and others injured/killed by these people. Remember that he won't allow anyone in his administration to use the term Islamist radical or terrorist. History has shown us that politicians start a war, but its the military and civilians who die in it. Let the Senator(s) send their son/daughter into battle, won't last long.

    May 6, 2014 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Accountable

    Once again, a bunch of cowardly politicians want to send someone else's family members into harms way where neither they or their family have ever gone before. Viet Nam, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya ... all disasters for US foreign policy. Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria got to figure it out for themselves. Where's the EU in all this?

    May 6, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. Kevin

    All it would take is a minimal effort by us and we could see the end of these African militias. They only portray bombast because they know we won't.

    May 6, 2014 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Meanwhile why did know one call for any assistance back when thousands of young boys were kidnapped and raised to be terrorists?

    May 6, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Where was the outrage when the Nigerian army went into their neighbouring countries and raped and kidnapped their women and children? This is just revenge, maybe Nigeria won't be so anxious to intervene on behalf of the west next time.

    May 6, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  14. Lew Baba

    So the U.S. shouldn't be world police but it should...we should circumstantially shed our blood in foreign nations, especially when the media plays up the need. Then the same people who want us to act will forget about the issue soon and will have no desire to know the names of the servicemen and women who will bleed for it. And 20 years down the line, they'll make a movie about it and some of them will take their kids to see the movie and they'll say "oh yeah, I remember when that happened. Poor African girls. Poor American soldiers." And they'll go back to posting on Facebook and Snapchat.

    May 6, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Tim

    I agree we should help these people.
    America is a Christian nation and should help other Christians.
    However the Nigerian Christians need to form their own Military and Militia.
    These Muslim terrorist are only out to kill.

    May 6, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  16. OMEN

    yea.. lets not put our noses where we shouldn't

    May 6, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  17. Diggs

    Yeah we only fight wars for money, not morality. Sorry for the reality check.

    May 6, 2014 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  18. TomGI

    No American troops to Nigeria. This senators are insane and do not speak for Americans.

    May 7, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  19. Cert is Good

    Send this Senator to Nigeria..

    May 7, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  20. Shaneeka

    1. Glad female Senators are demanding action re. this detestable situation!
    2. Glad it is bi-partisan!
    2. Glad CNN is covering it!
    3. However even here, typical bias is evident from the start: how is it that Sen. Collins' party affiliation (Republican) is never once mentioned?!? Yet Mikulski's is. Plus the wording downplays Collins' leadership: ("Collins 'joined' Democratic Sen. Mikulski'.") It cd be inferred that Milkulski spearheaded & Collins merely followed. This may be true but from what I've read elsewhere, the letter/call to action was at least jointly done – they were co-leaders & Collins was vigorous. Makes me mad when I see snarky subtle bias – especially when the story concerns such massive evil.

    May 7, 2014 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  21. sigh

    When we we learn to stay out of peoples buisness.......if we have to go in with special forces, then lets not broadcast it on CNN or any other worthless news outlet!!!

    May 7, 2014 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  22. Jerrybill

    Mr Putin could easily fix this with his "men behind the masks". He is the greatest thing since canned worms.

    May 7, 2014 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  23. noname

    The special ops have been made more public than ever in the last few years than ever. To the point where it puts them in danger, So lets put a big articale on CNN about requesting special ops so everyone knows. When most/all of these men/ women would not do it for the glory, but only to help those who cant help themselves right now....rant

    May 7, 2014 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. Hadenuffyet

    Governments in Africa are largely incompetent...leaving this to them is as good as doing nothing at all...which is pretty much the status quo.

    May 7, 2014 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  25. Hmm...

    Don, If you're going to start complaining about military expenses used for other countries, don't even start unless you want to start with Israel. And this is putting it to good use too.

    May 7, 2014 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
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