Donald Trump has announced his appointment of Richard Grenell, the current US ambassador to Germany, as the acting director of national intelligence.
In a tweet on Thursday, February 20, 2020, Trump named Grenell, a staunch supporter of his policies, into the role which essentially oversees all the spy agencies of the United State.
I am pleased to announce that our highly respected Ambassador to Germany, @RichardGrenell, will become the Acting Director of National Intelligence. Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him. I would like to thank Joe Maguire….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020
In March 2015, Richard Grenell, a former spokesman for four United States Ambassadors to the United Nations, raised an alarm about the dangers of electing Major General Muhammadu Buhari presidency for Nigeria and the whole of Africa.
In an article titled “Nigeria on the brink” which was published in The Washington Times, a US-based publication, Grenell observed that the former military Head of State was working tirelessly to introduce the Sharia law across the country, which according to him would further pose a major challenge to the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and Africa in its entirety.
Grenell wrote in his piece:
“‘I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria,’ Mr. Buhari said. “God willing, we will not stop the agitation for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country.’
“Agitation? Is this an indication that Mr. Buhari supports violence because the end goal of the terrorist attacks throughout Nigeria and Africa is an Islamic state? It is a legitimate question that should be asked by leaders of the Obama administration.
“Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance and support to ISIS. The Northern Nigerian based Islamic terrorist group wants Sharia law throughout Nigeria and beyond. They are also actively terrorizing Chad, Niger and Cameroon with their goal of an Islamic state.
“Mr. Buhari has also spoken sympathetically about members of the terrorist group Boko Haram, has cautioned against a rush to judgement on its members and has personally been selected by the terrorist group to lead its negotiations with the Government of Nigeria. Mr. Buhari’s election as Nigeria’s head of state would be a disaster for Africa. It would also signal trouble for the West’s fight against ISIS and terrorism throughout the Middle East.”
In reaction to the publication, Buhari’s supporters issued death threats to Grenell on Twitter.
The Boko Haram Resurgence
Major General Buhari went on to win the tainted elections in 2015. Soon after, a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, ISIS, and rebranded to the Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP.
The incursion of ISIS into a Boko Haram ravaged was made evident when a fugitive ISIS leader, Ahmad Al-Assir, apprehended while attempting to travel with a fake Palestinian passport and a valid Nigerian visa at the Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport early Saturday, August 15, 2015 in Lebanon.
The Trent was the first newspaper in Nigeria to report that a radical Muslim cleric has been arrested en route Nigeria.
Ahmed al-Assir is the unofficial defacto IS Emir for Lebanon. Only reason he's unofficial is because Bay'ah has not been publicly accepted.
— Mr. Aye Dee (@MrAyeDee) August 16, 2015
The Buhari government reportedly launched an investigation into how the wanted terrorist was granted a visa to Nigeria and never published its findings.
Boko Haram and ISWAP attacks in Nigeria continue to increase since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015. ISWAP murdered 11 Christian hostages and released the video of their executions in December 2019.
Boko Haram murdered 30 travellers in Auno, a settlement near Maiduguri in February prompting a visit by the president in which he expressed surprise that Boko Haram still existed in the country. Immediately he departed Maiduguri, the terrorists launched an attack on the city.
Trump Departs From Tradition
By making Richard Grenell acting director of national intelligence (DNI), rather than nominating him for the permanent position, Trump would sidestep the need for Senate confirmation, a loophole the president has increasingly exploited as he has moved to replace career officials with those chosen for their personal loyalty.
The move, first reported by the New York Times, would also mark a radical break from past practice. Since the position was established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to coordinate the 17 intelligence agencies, the office of the director of national intelligence has been viewed as non-partisan, and generally occupied by career professionals. The current acting DNI, Joseph Maguire, is a retired vice-admiral and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Grenell, was a spokesperson for the US mission at the UN before becoming ambassador to Germany, does not have a background in intelligence or the armed services. Under Trump, he has distinguished himself as a Twitter warrior, taking on Trump’s critics with a ferocity that captured the president’s attention.
According to some reports, he would remain ambassador to Berlin and special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo peace negotiations while overseeing the US intelligence agencies.