Recognition that an American was reportedly one of many targeted in Boko Haram’s bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria in August of 2011 could have lead the United States government to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization long before doing so in November of last year. Boko Haram has continued its campaign of terror, killing more than 1,700 Christians this year alone and declaring parts of Nigeria under its control for the Islamic caliphate.
09/17/2014 Nigeria (World) – Who is Vernice Guthrie, and where was she at 11 a.m. West Africa Time on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011?
On that day, terrorist group Boko Haram carried out a suicide bombing at the main UN building in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 24 persons and injuring more than 100. Since then Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and other lawmakers have three times during hearings asked State Department officials whether Americans were in that building. Three times those officials have hedged.
The question is an important one because in 2011 Boko Haram was carrying out almost-daily attacks in Nigeria’s north, but then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resisted calls to designate the group a foreign terrorist organization. The FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice pleaded for that designation, which would have made it harder for Boko Haram to gain funding and traction, but Clinton’s State Department said the organization did not pose a threat to Americans.
Now, Boko Haram’s rise has led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the destruction of hundreds of churches, and the kidnapping this year of 300 schoolgirls and many others. Boko Haram last month imitated Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) by declaring a caliphate, and early this month moved into positions around Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State. Jacob Zenn, a Jamestown Foundation expert on the terrorist group, says Boko Haram may within months have in northern Nigeria “control similar to what the Islamic State has achieved in Iraq and Syria.”