Sunday, 27 May 2012

U.S debates 'terrorist' sanctions for Boko Haram- Reuters

The America State Department is debating the wisdom of designating the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram a "foreign terrorist organization" despite entreaties from lawmakers and the Justice Department to do so.

President Obama
United States diplomats are giving serious consideration to the arguments of a group of academics who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week urging her department not to apply the "terrorist" label to the al Qaeda-linked group.
The professors said Boko Haram's violent tactics have "turned most Nigerians against them," and their reputation among other militants might be enhanced by a "terrorist" designation.

Reuters says U.S. action might also validate the position of more radical elements of Boko Haram, which is divided into factions, the professors said.

The academics also argued that any U.S. move to label Boko Haram as a terrorist group would "effectively endorse excessive use of force" against the group by Nigerian security forces "at a time when the rule of law in Nigeria is in the balance."

Abuses by Nigerian security forces already have "facilitated radical recruitment," the professors said.
A group of Republican senators led by Scott Brown of Massachusetts introduced legislation on Thursday that would require the State Department to determine whether Boko Haram should be formally labeled a "foreign terrorist" group.

The designation would subject it to economic sanctions, including the freezing of U.S. bank accounts, and would make it illegal for anyone in the country to provide support to the group.

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