The US Department of State today designated two Nigerian groups, Boko Haram and Ansaru, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and also Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” is linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an organization responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria. Their aim is to set up an Islamic State. Ansaru was once part of Boko Haram that split off and went their own way. Earlier this year, they kidnapped and executed seven international construction workers.
Boko Haram Militants Killed 50 Students in Nigeria’s Agricultural College when they stormed the school’s dormitories and classrooms. Nigerian soldiers recovered 50 bodies and transported dozens of wounded students to Damaturu Specialist Hospital. All of the students were muslims. In July the militants killed 29 pupils and a teacher, some burned alive.
Speaking about their designation today, the Department of State said “These designations are an important and appropriate step, but only one tool in what must be a comprehensive approach by the Nigerian government to counter these groups through a combination of law enforcement, political, and development efforts, as well as military engagement, to help root out violent extremism while also addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of northern Nigeria.”
Boko Haram is a brutal group that targets Nigerian military, government, and civilians. Recent lethal actions by the group include an attack on Benisheikh, that killed more than 160 civilians, including women and children. Justifying the “Global Terrorist” designation, Boko Haram attacked international targets, including a suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja two years ago, on August 26, 2011, that killed 21 people and injured dozens, including aid workers.
Ansaru mainly attacks Nigerian military and Western targets. One year ago, an Ansaru raid at an Abuja police station, to free detained terrorists, killed a number of Nigerian police officers. Two months after that, Ansaru ambushed a convoy of Nigerian peacekeepers. They also kidnapped several foreigners who live or work in Nigeria.
The new designation, arranged jointly by the Departments of State, Justice and Treasury, freezes all property and interests in property of those two organizations that are in the United States, come within the United States or the control of any U.S. persons. Specifically, there is a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with the two groups, Boko Haram and Ansaru.