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US Finally Designates Boko Haram as Official Terrorist Group

The US designated Boko Haram and an offshoot as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Boko Haram means "western education is forbidden."
Boko Haram members gunned down nearly 50 college students and teachers in an agricultural college in Nigeria in late September, 2013

Boko Haram members gunned down nearly 50 college students and teachers in an agricultural college in Nigeria in late September, 2013

The United States has finally designated two murderous organizations based in Nigeria as official terrorist organizations.

The consequences for the two groups, Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru, being placed on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations and becoming Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the Secretary of State, is that assets of those organizations are frozen.  In addition, it is a violation of U.S. law to provide material support to either organization.  It also makes it easier to pursue and prosecute entities which work with either Boko Haram or Ansaru.

The two newly designated terror organizations are aligned with al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), according to senior State Department officials.

Boko Haram is responsible for thousands of deaths since its creation in 2009, including large-scale attacks against Muslim and Christian religious communities, and women and children. It has attacked Nigerian military government and civilian targets, especially schools.

Boko Haram in the local Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden.” The group seeks to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state, though half the country’s 160 million citizens are Christian.

Ansaru splintered from Boko Haram in January of 2012.  Ansaru has committed multiple attacks of violence against civilians and Nigerian government officials and is responsible for the deaths of countless civilians and Nigerian security personnel. The name of the group stands for “vanguard for the protection of Muslims in black lands.” Ansaru is focused not only on Nigeria, but all of Africa.

Although neither Ansaru and Boko Haram are perceived to be threats to Americans outside of those in Nigeria and neighboring African states, the U.S. government took the step of listing the two as FTOs in order to ” help Nigeria succeed in adopting a comprehensive approach to address its domestic terrorist threat.”

Nigeria is both an ally of the United States and is a “crucial global supplier” of oil.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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