US Mulls Broader Designation For Boko Haram

United States has said it would continue to look at the question of a broader designation of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, (also known as Boko Haram), even after three of its leaders were designated global terrorists this week.

This is coming just as the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC appealed to the US government that whatever action that would be taken against the three designated Boko Haram leaders should not affect their immediate neighbours who had not only been the hardest hit, but had vehemently opposed the activities of the militant sect.

The three Boko Haram leaders labeled as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists”, are Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar, and Khalid al-Barnawi.

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Answering reporters question at a briefing at the State Department in Washington DC, the department’s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said, “More broadly, as you know, there is always this question of whether designating individuals within an organization is the most effective strategy or whether the designating (of) the whole organization is the most effective strategy. So, we’re continuing to look at the question of a broader designation.”

She however noted that Boko Haram was at the moment a loosely constructed group attached to trying to address grievances in the North.

Nuland said there were different views within the group, and US was looking at that, while also working with Nigerian authorities to encourage dialogue with forces in the North with a view to ensuring that, “a unified, multi – pluralistic Nigeria where the rights of all people, no matter their religion, no matter where they live, are protected in its own security efforts.”

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She added that Nigerian government needed to begin a real dialogue about some of the roots of the dissatisfaction in the North by engaging northern communities, thereby making them more resistant to some of the extremist-style tactics that the three designated Boko Haram leaders espouse.

“We are making some progress in terms of our security relationship with them (Nigeria), encouraging them to strengthen policing versus using the military in these cases. And we are working with them on the kinds of offers of dialogue, economic support, et cetera, that could be helpful”, she said in response to whether US believes Nigeria was taking a broader look at some of the roots of violent attacks in the North.

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