Tags: War on Terrorism | Boko Haram | Nigeria | terrorists | State Department

Report: US Unwilling to List Boko Haram as a Terror Group

Image: Report: US Unwilling to List Boko Haram as a Terror Group Nigerians protest in Abuja over the government's failure to rescue the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists.

Friday, 09 May 2014 09:28 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

The Obama administration was afraid to label Boko Haram a terrorist organization in 2012 because of concerns that it would result in the Islamic extremists becoming more powerful and more dangerous, U.S. officials told The Washington Times.

Sources told the newspaper that the government was reluctant to add the Nigerian-based group to its terror list over fears that it would enhance its reputation internationally, and therefore be able to recruit more members and carry out even more inhumane acts.

Now Boko Haram has exploded onto the world stage by kidnapping more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls — 276 are still missing — with plans to possibly sell them off as slaves in the name of Islam – and even al-Qaida appears to be horrified by the abductions.

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However, in June 2012 the State Department was only willing to designate just three of the group’s leaders as "global terrorists" with "close links" to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghrab (AQIM).

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sinful" in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, quickly became a major problem for the oil-rich African country as it obtained rocket-propelled grenades from jihadist smuggling networks in Mali and Libya, according to the Times.

But the Obama administration continued to delay listing the militants as a terror organization, the Times said, noting that the United States may have been willing to accept a program by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to give amnesty to members willing to lay down their arms.

It was only when the Human Rights Watch drew attention in 2013 to its violent atrocities, especially the "execution-style killings of detainees," did the State Department designate Boko Haram as an official terror organization.

Jonathan has vowed to find the abducted girls, although he admits that Nigerian authorities have no idea where they are.

"As a nation, we are facing attack from terrorism," said the president. "I believe that the kidnap of these girls will be the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria."

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