On Friday, November 2, the Nigerian Army shared a tweet containing a video of Donald Trump recommending that American troops should open fire on migrants that throw rocks at them. The impetus behind the sharing of Trump’s video was suggested to be a means of justification for the Nigerian Army’s actions in killing Shia protesters earlier in the week, according to reports from Business Insider.
On Monday, the Nigerian army fired upon a group of about 1000 Shia protesters, leaving 40 dead, according to reports from Amnesty International and witnesses from the protest. Nigeria’s military has long come under fire for its human rights abuses, but continues to be a partner with the United States. Nigeria regularly purchases warplanes and other military equipment from the U.S.
Trump made the remarks on Thursday in response to a question about the migrant caravan that has been making its way from Central America to the border between Mexico and the United States, revealing that he had made it clear that a thrown rock should be treated in the same way as being fired upon. Trump has approved the deployment of about 15,000 troops to be stationed at the border in order to confront the caravan.
Trump said in his remark, “We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle.”
Wow, that was fast.
The Nigerian army is using a video of Trump’s speech yesterday – where he said US troops should “consider it a rifle” if migrants throw rocks – to justify its shooting 45 unarmed protesters https://t.co/qnflMuoE5H
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) November 2, 2018
The official account of the Nigerian Army shared a tweet — which has now been deleted — with a video clip of Trump bearing the caption, “Please Watch and Make your Deductions.”
John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, elaborated upon the tweet on Friday. Agim said that it was released in response to condemnation by international organizations such as Amnesty International regarding Monday’s incident.
Agim said in his explanation, “We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International? What are they then saying? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.”
Trump’s comments caused a backlash from veterans, including Paul Szoldra — a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan and is now editor-in-chief at Task and Purpose. Szoldra gave his perspective via social media, writing on Twitter that, “This is absolutely not part of the military’s Rules of Engagement, though this comment will certainly be used at court-martial if DoD personnel fire at immigrants.”
In another Twitter comment, Szoldra criticized Trump for encouraging troops to commit “war crimes” — something he described as unprecedented behavior from a sitting president.