Aging South African Mercenaries Hitting Boko Haram Hard

About 100 South African mercenaries have been able to do in a matter of months what the U.S. and other nations have failed to do in years: Send Boko Haram running.

With little to no employment opportunities in their home country of South Africa, aging white apartheid-era soldiers are signing on with private armies to take on Boko Haram. And they’re making an impact. Dozens of villages have been liberated and hundreds of women and girls have been freed after years of forced slavery and subjugation as “bush wives” to terrorists.

One such squad is employed by Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), run by Colonel Eeben Barlow, a former commander in the South African Defense Force.

“The campaign gathered good momentum and wrested much of the initiative from the enemy,” Barlow, 62, said during a speech at the Royal Danish Defense College. “It was not uncommon for the strike force to be met by thousands of cheering locals once the enemy had been driven from an area.”

Barlow’s firm, hired in January by outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, was originally hired to recover 300 kidnapped schoolgirls, a task made harder due to U.S. President Obama’s refusal to provide weapons and intelligence to fight Boko Haram. President Jonathan’s support of Nigerian laws criminalizing homosexual acts and strictly forbidding same-sex marriage were opposed by Obama and, therefore, assistance was withheld. Jonathan was defeated in the March election by retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim who ruled as dictator there from 1983 until 1985, until ousted by a coup. His recent presidential campaign was run by the political firm founded by key Obama strategist David Axelrod.

Even as his Muslim opponent was bringing in outside help from Washington, Jonathan was bringing in Barlow’s STTEP team to stomp out Boko Haram. One pilot who flew into war zones decades ago says the mercenaries are giving Boko Haram “a hiding.”

“These guys are in their 50s, but for a pilot or tank driver it doesn’t really matter,” said Crause Steyl, 50. “There’s going to be no Boko Haram. It boggles the mind that Britain and America promised to help Nigeria but never did.”

Unfortunately, these unsung heroes who are freeing Nigeria from terrorists will not likely be welcomed home by their government.

“…the South African government doesn’t want them to exist. They wish them off the planet. When they come back from Nigeria, it will try to prosecute them and put them in jail,” continued Steyl. “Because the color of these men is white, it makes laws that stop them [from] earning money off shore.”

Why It Matters

The United State government’s politicization of the conflict in Nigeria is unconscionable. Thousands have been slaughtered and enslaved. And now, a meager 100 mercenaries have the terror group on the run? These mercenaries will be the unsung heroes of the war on terror.

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