US Drones May Aid Search for Abducted Nigerian Girls

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:13 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The United States has deployed a team composed of intelligence, military, law enforcement, and diplomatic specialists to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to help find more than 250 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist extremists, The Washington Post reported.

The United States is already conducting reconnaissance flights over Nigeria and weighing whether to add drones, already stationed in nearby countries, into the hunt for the hostages, according to the Post. Washington will likely also use satellite and electronic intercepts in combing the area, which is the size of New England.

Drones based in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Niger are currently searching for al-Qaida terrorists, as well as Lord's Resistance Army chief Joseph Kony. Some of those drones may be diverted to the Nigerian investigation.

The girls are being held for ransom by Boko Haram, which claims to have converted some of them to Islam. Nigerian authorities have been criticized for waiting three weeks before making the girls' fate much of an issue.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. It is about 50 percent Muslim, according to the CIA's World Fact Book. It has the largest economy in Africa and is a global oil exporter supplying the United States with about 5 percent of its foreign oil imports. Despite immense oil wealth, 60 percent of the people subsist on less than a dollar a day, according to the Center for Research on Globalization.

Al-Qaida affiliated groups, including Boko Haram, are believed to receive financial support from backers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, the Post reported.

On Tuesday, Kuwait Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Nayef al-Ajmi resigned following U.S. allegations that he had raised money for al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Syria, according to  the Post.

Britain and Israel are also aiding in the search for the abducted girls.

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