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Boko Haram and Ansaru Receive FTO Designation for Brutal Campaign of Religious Cleansing

Washington, DC (November 15, 2013) – International Christian Concern celebrates the official designation of Boko Haram and Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) by the United States Government. Earlier this week, both the White House and the State Department issued statements announcing the designation and the imposition of sanctions against both Islamist groups, who are waging campaigns of religious cleansing against Christians and moderate Muslims in an effort to establish Sharia rule in Northern Nigeria. The FTO designation enables U.S. law enforcement and the Treasury department to better combat the organizations’ support and financing networks.
The designations are seen as a victory for a broad coalition of religious and human rights groups, including International Christian Concern (ICC), who have advocated this action. As an integral part of this coalition, ICC held 27 meetings with government officials, facilitated a letter to the Secretary of State from the Congress demanding these groups be classified as terrorist organizations, and regularly advocated for action at the State Department. The FTO designations were announced just before a Congressional hearing was to take place which would have graphically highlighted the abuses and security threats posed by the two Islamist groups.
ICC recognizes and expresses gratitude for the contributions of our volunteers, partner organizations, and the Members of Congress which actively supported this effort. However, as  Nigeria expert Emmanuel Ogebe highlights, there is still much more to be done in order for the United States to effectively assist Nigeria in combatting the threat posed by these organizations. In his Congressional testimony, Ogebe stated that:
The U.S. State Department in its official reports and statements has denied the religious motivation of Boko Haram, despite its repeatedly declared goal of overthrowing the State and establishing a radical Muslim theocracy. To claim that religion is not the core issue in the extreme violence  perpetrated  by this terrorist group is disingenuous, deeply insensitive to victims, and impairs U.S. threat analysis.
Prior to today’s designation, the State Department has downplayed the fact that Boko Haram has attacked U.S. citizens which  places more Americans, including diplomats, at risk.
The U.S. has lagged behind in providing humanitarian assistance, and has failed to encourage the Nigerian government to assist or provide compensation to victims.
Nigeria is a strategic security partner both regionally and globally, and currently participates in nine U.N. peacekeeping operations worldwide.
Cameron Thomas, ICC’s Africa Regional Manager, added that “The designation of Boko Haram and it’s Ansaru splinter as FTO’s is certainly a long-overdue first step in attuning American policy to combat religious cleansing  of Christians in Nigeria. However, much more remains to be done if the Obama administration is truly serious about ending the religicide there. We applaud this proclamation, but will continue to advocate for further action.”