Hillary Clinton’s State Department Would Not Label Nigerian Boko Haram as Terrorists

Hillary Clinton photo
Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State of the United States received assessments and urging from the CIA, FBI, the Justice Department, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, General Ham, and some members of Congress … to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

Opponents to designating Boko Haram were concerned that adding the group to the FTO list would make the United States and Western interest more of a target and would enhance Boko Haram’s status among extremist groups. The opponents were  21 U.S. based African studies academics, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell, some members of the State Department, the Nigerian government, and Scholars on Twitter.

As Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Clinton’s leadership is open to  question. Secretary Hillary Clinton seems to have disregarded the assessments and urging from the CIA, FBI, the Justice Department, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, General Ham, and some members of Congress.

Instead Sec. Hillary Clinton’s State Department designated three Boko Haram members as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Then the U.S. State Department called on the Nigerian government to change their strategy toward Boko Haram from a military response to address the grievances felt by many in northern Nigeria. To change the heavy-handed response to the violence and killings by Boko Haram that might fuel radical recruitment. Nigerian President Jonathan replaced his National Security Advisor and Minister of Defense in 2012, citing needs for new tactics against Boko Haram.

Long-standing and still neglected political and socio-economic grievances are some of the drivers feeding the violence in the North. Eliminating this threat requires us to address these issues. U.S. counterterrorism strategy is closely linked to the broader strategy of support for the Nigerian government’s reform efforts, and increased respect for human rights. Through high-level engagement, including through the established U.S.- Nigeria Bi-national Commission, we are working to strengthen the Nigerian government’s resolve and capacity to address the broader issues and to press for a change to its heavy-handed approach to the security threats in the north.
Testimony of Daniel Benjamin, State Department Coordinator of Counterterrorism in U.S. Congress, House
Foreign Affairs Committee

Assessments of Boko Haram Threat

November 20, 2011 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security:Subcommittee on Conterterrorism and Intelligence–Congressman Patrick Meehan and his Democratic counterpart Jackie Speier
Findings 1. “Boko Haram has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to the U.S. interests and the U.S. homeland.”

On January 31, 2012, in testimony before Congress, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper included Boko Haram in his worldwide threat assessment, stating, “There are also fears that Boko Haram—elements of which have engaged al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—is interested in hitting Western targets, such as the U.S. Embassy and hotels frequented by Westerners.”

In January 2012, Lisa Monaco, head of the Justice Department’s national security division sent a letter to the State Department requesting that Boko Haram be put on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.

On February 23, 2012, United States Ambassador to Nigeria Terrence P. McCulley indicated Boko Haram’s danger was expanding. He said, “We’ve seen an increase in sophistication, we’ve seen increased lethality. We saw at last a part of the group has decided it’s in their interest to attack the international community.”

In March 2012, General Carter Ham (U.S. Africa Command) testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee identifying Boko Haram as a “threat to Western interest.”

Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are all increasingly making common cause with each other and exploiting weak governments in Africa to facilitate their operations. That’s why AFRICOM’s efforts to build the capacity of our African partners to disrupt these terrorist groups and deny them safe haven and freedom of movement is so critical.

The last year, as the chairman and ranking member have indicated, has been a year of significant change that has swept across the African continent. The broad wave of democratic movements that began in Tunisia has spread faster and more broadly than many have forecasted. The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation. In Nigeria, Boko Haram emerged as an increasingly violent extremist group and a threat to Western interests.
General Carter Ham TRANSCRIPT: U.S. AFRICOM, EUCOM Commanders Testify Before Senate Armed Services Committee, March 2012

March 30, 2012, Congressman Patrick Meehan, Chairman Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, and Congressman Peter T. King, Chairman Committee on Homeland Security, sent  a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

In January 2013, Sen. James Risch and seven other GOP Senators introduced Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013.  The bill was assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations committee, it is still sitting in committee.  The State Department lobbied against the legislation at the time, according to internal State Department emails obtained by The Daily Beast.

Boko Haram Designated A Terrorist Organization

In July 2012, the British government designated Ansaru, the purported splinter group from Boko Haram, a “Proscribed International Terrorist Group” aligned with al Qaeda. Boko Haram was designated a ” Proscribed International Terrorist Group” in November 2013 by the British government.

The State Department in November 2013, under the leadership of John Kerry,  designated Boko Haram and Ansaru  as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
“Boko Haram has also conducted attacks against international targets, including a suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja on August 26, 2011, that killed 21 people and injured dozens more, many of them aid workers supporting development projects across Nigeria.”

Photo by marcn

Enter your comment here.