News / Africa

US Designates Boko Haram as Terrorists

Boko Haram Facts

  • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
  • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
  • Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
  • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
  • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
  • Says it will kidnap women and children as part of its campaign
  • Has taken over parts of northeastern Nigeria
STATE DEPARTMENT - The United States on Thursday designated as terrorists three members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram.  The Obama administration says it is working with the government in Abuja to address some of the social and economic problems underlying the violence in northern Nigeria.

The State Department says it is adding Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi to its list of terrorists.  That means they are not allowed to hold property or assets in the United States and that Americans are prohibited from dealing with them.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the three men will no longer be able to use the United States to raise funds for their group.

"It also sends a shot across the bow [a warning] to those who are considering taking up extreme violence to address grievances in the north [of Nigeria] that this is a course that is open to us with regard to them as well," said Nuland.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Nigeria, including the bombings of several church and the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, as well as a series of attacks in the city of Kano that killed more than 180 people.

The State Department says Kambar and al-Barnawi have close links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.  Shekau is Boko Haram's "most visible leader" in the push for an Islamic state in the north outside of Nigeria's federal constitution.

The terrorist designations stop short of naming Boko Haram a terrorist organization, something that is gaining support in the U.S. Congress and at the Justice Department.

The State Department's Victoria Nuland says the Obama administration is "continuing to look at that," but there is always the question of whether the terrorist designation of individuals within an organization is a more effective strategy.

"Boko Haram is, at the moment, a loosely constructed group attached to trying to address grievances in the north," she said. "There are different views within the group, and we are continuing to look at that."

Nuland says the United States is working with the Nigerian government to address some of the underlying causes of Boko Haram violence by promoting a unified, pluralistic nation where the rights of all people are protected, regardless of region or ethnicity.

"And that it begin a real dialogue about some of the roots of the dissatisfaction in the north, which are primarily economic, and that they have got to really engage the northern communities and thereby make them more resistant to some of these extremist-style tactics that these three [individuals] espouse," said Nuland.

Nuland says there has been discussion at the presidential level between the United States and Nigeria in recent few months about how best to address the Boko Haram problem.

"We are making some progress in terms of our security relationship with them, encouraging them to strengthen policing versus using the military in these cases," she said. "And we are working with them on the kinds of offers of dialogue, economic support, etc., that could be helpful."

Nuland says the United States is concerned about links between Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and that it is working with governments in the Sahel "to close space for terrorism" in the region.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More