World News

US Names 2 Nigerian-Based Groups Terrorist Organizations

The United States has named Nigerian-based militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. counterterrorism official Lisa Monaco said the two groups have been responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria in recent years.

She said the groups have carried out dozens of attacks on churches and mosques, as well as targeted killings of civilians. U.S. officials blame Boko Haram for a 2011 attack on a U.N. building in Abuja that killed 21 people.

The designation cuts off Boko Haram and Ansaru from U.S. financial institutions and allows banks to freeze their assets held in the United States.

The announcement came as a U.S. Congressional subcommittee holds a hearing on the threat posed by Boko Haram, Nigeria's most prominent militant organization.

Earlier this year, Ansaru declared itself a splinter group independent of Boko Haram. U.S. officials say Ansaru's attacks have focused mostly on Nigerian military and Western targets.



Before Wednesday's hearing, committee chairman Christopher Smith said Boko Haram fits the definition of a terrorist group and should be designated as such.

Boko Haram's name in the Hausa language means "Western education is a sin." The group has battled the Nigerian government since 2009, with frequent attacks on police stations, jails, and government officials, as well as civilian targets like churches and mosques.

The group is believed to be fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, although much about its membership, leadership and structure remains unclear.

Last year, the U.S. State Department designated Boko Haram's most visible leader, Abubakar Shekau, a terrorist, along with two other men who allegedly have ties to Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

Nigeria's government declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in May and has sent thousands of troops to battle the group. But attacks continue, amid accusations the military has killed hundreds of civilians through indiscriminate and heavy-handed violence.

The State Department said Wednesday that the designations are "only one tool" in what must be a comprehensive approach by Nigeria's government to counter the groups through law enforcement, political and development efforts, as well as military engagement.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs