U.S. urged to designate Boko Haram as terrorist group

Jihadist group tied to Al Qaeda has killed thousands in Nigeria
Monday, December 03, 2012

Attorney sound bite:  Benjamin Bull

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom and Jubilee Campaign, together with several other concerned organizations, are formally requesting that the U.S. State Department designate the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization.” Boko Haram is responsible for killing an estimated 3,000 Nigerians and citizens of 11 other countries—primarily Christians—in the last three years and has acknowledged it has ties to Somalian terrorist groups and Al Qaeda. The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague recently found probable cause that the group committed crimes against humanity.

Jubilee Campaign and Alliance Defending Freedom co-authored the formal report and petition submitted to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday. A shorter version of the petition is available on the White House website for any concerned citizen to sign.

“Those who wantonly commit genocide against Christians solely because of their faith should not be tolerated when available steps can be taken to thwart this kind of terror,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. “Few organizations are as qualified to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization as Boko Haram is, and we encourage the State Department to make that designation as quickly as possible.”

Earlier this year, Boko Haram called for the religious cleansing and genocide of Christians in northern Nigeria. Since then, the group’s indiscriminate bombings have killed Christians, moderate Muslims, and others it considers “infidels.” The victims have included men, women, and children as well as soldiers, police, and journalists.

Boko Haram has also threatened U.S. interests and attacked U.S. citizens. Two Americans, one a United Nations official and the other a U.S. official, survived a bombing in August 2011 at the U.N. headquarters in Nigeria. The U.S. embassy has continually warned of threats to Western targets and advised U.S. diplomats to be wary of attending religious services. The State Department is unable to open a consulate in Kano after years of planning because of the insecurity orchestrated by Boko Haram. Attacks that took place this year on Jan. 20 in Kano claimed more than 200 lives, making it the highest single-day death toll in any global conflict in 2012.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has been unable to effectively monitor programs and projects involving millions of American taxpayer dollars in northern Nigeria due to the difficulty of conducting site visits because of the dangerous conditions. Visiting U.S. officials have been restricted in their ability to travel within Nigeria as a result of the precarious security situation brought about by Boko Haram. The U.S. embassy has embargoed travel outside of the capital city to any points north.

The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 empowers the State Department to designate such groups as “foreign terrorist organizations.” Such a designation would have numerous effects, including the ability to freeze and seize bank accounts, arrest and deport Boko Haram members and associates, and impose sanctions on countries that fund the terrorist group.

“It is critical to note that Boko Haram launched its first violent offensive on Christmas Eve 2003,” said Emmanuel Ogebe, a legal expert on Nigeria who worked on the petition. “Nine years later, it has evolved into a highly sophisticated, globally linked, suicide-bombing terrorist entity with global aspirations. It is therefore imperative that the U.S. designate it for what it is--a foreign terrorist organization.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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